THE Prime Minister today defended the timing of a crunch by-election after Nationalist taunts that Labour is running scared of the battle.
MPs yesterday defeated an attempt by the SNP to move the writ for an early by-election in Glasgow North East – the contest cannot now take place before late autumn.
At his monthly press conference Gordon Brown was asked why Glasgow voters should have to wait for five months to choose an MP when voters in the Norwich North by-election go to the polls tomorrow.
Mr Brown said the Glasgow contest will take place "in the normal way of by-elections".
"By-elections can happen early, or they can happen a bit later," he said.
"Under the manner in which the Speaker resigned his seat, it's not possible to move the writ during the summer vacation.
"So it will be moved as we come back."
The by-election was caused by the resignation of Speaker Michael Martin.
In a short Westminster debate yesterday on the SNP's move, Commons Leader Harriet Harman said the Government will move the writ "as soon as possible" after MPs return to the Commons in October.
To move the writ now and hold a by-election in August would mean a campaign before the end of the school holidays in Glasgow, which would "disenfranchise" voters, according to Ms Harman.
But SNP chief whip Stewart Hosie said the Government had "contempt" for voters, who deserved to be represented by an MP "as quickly as possible".
The Tories accused Labour of "arrogance."