Cameron: General election now

David Cameron is calling on the prime minister to call a general election in the wake of Labour’s Glasgow East by-election defeat.

The Scottish National party (SNP) overturned Labour’s 13,000-plus majority last night to win the Westminster seat by 365 votes.

Speaking this morning Mr Cameron said it was time for a general election following recent by-election defeats for Labour in Crewe and Nantwich and Henley.

“I think the prime minister should have his holiday but then I think we need an election,” the Conservative leader said.

“I think we need change in this country, and that’s how change should come about.

“But what I wonder is whether we can put up with this for another 18 months.”

Mr Brown has already brushed aside the idea, saying he will be “getting on with the job”.

Last night the Tories pulled off a minor coup of their own by beating the Liberal Democrats to third place.

But the night belonged to John Mason, who has become the seventh SNP MP at Westminster after taking 11,277 votes, compared to the 10,912 won by Labour candidate Margaret Curran.

“The east end of Glasgow must never be taken for granted again, as it has been in the past,” Mr Mason said.

“This is a new start for the east end. Three weeks ago the SNP predicted a political earthquake. This SNP victory is not just a political earthquake, it is off the Richter scale. It is an epic win and the tremors have been felt all the way to Westminster.”

His victory is being seen as a major blow to prime minister Gordon Brown’s leadership of the Labour party, which is increasingly under threat after a humiliating loss in Crewe and Nantwich and a lost deposit in Henley earlier this summer.

Mr Mason added: “Tonight’s vote is a vote of confidence in Scotland, in the Scottish government and in the progress the SNP is making.”

In further comment on Friday Mr Cameron pointed to a succession of poll setbacks for Labour as evidence for the electorate’s hunger for change.

“I think whenever people have had a chance to speak about this government, whether at the local elections, whether in Crewe, whether in Henley, whether in the London mayor elections and now in Glasgow, they have said ‘Look, we think you’re failing and we want change’,” he claimed.

“I think it’s the Conservative party over the last few months that’s really been setting the agenda on things like how we combat knife crime, how we deal with the cost of living, how we clean up politics.

“And so I look forward to going on and setting that agenda and fighting that election whenever the prime minister calls it.”

Mr Brown is due to address Labour’s National Policy Forum on Friday morning.

The SNP took 43.1 per cent of the 26,219 votes cast, just 1.6 per cent more than Labour’s 41.7 per cent. Turnout was lower than the 48 per cent seen in 2005, at 42.25 per cent.

The Glasgow East by-election was triggered when its sitting MP, David Marshall, resigned on grounds of ill health.