340 MPs voted against the joint Plaid and SNP bid to try and force Gordon Brown into calling an ‘early’ election; with 268 in support. Watching the debate today it was plain to see that it had come a few days too late. Despite the presence of some big hitting backbenchers there was a distinct lack of any party leaders - leaving Peter Hain, William Hague and Lembit Opik as the foremost members from each of the major parties at the debate.
Had convention allowed for the debate to be held in the midst of the reshuffle and the not so coup d’etat then perhaps it’s significance would have been greater, but as it was - with Gordon Brown now on a surer footing and the rebels putting away their knifes, the appetite for cross bench voting had diminished.
When the debate focused on the issues (and not descending into pot-shots between Labour and the nationalists) it was interesting to hear the arguments from both sides of the commons. Peter Hain insisting that the lesson from the European election debacle was to focus on governing, the opposition claiming that not calling an election was pure selfishness.
It now looks like Gordon is safe until at least October, I also get the feeling that he’s going to cling on as long as humanly possible in the hope that an economic recovery saves his job. The 29 Welsh MPs will be praying along with him, hoping that an upturn stops the electoral catastrophe that's staring them in the face after Sunday's results.
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