London: Britain on Tuesday announced it would hold
general elections on May 6 in what is being billed as one of
the most hotly-contested fights between the ruling Labour led
by Gordon Brown and opposition Conservatives, with opinion
polls saying the verdict might throw up a hung Parliament.
"The Queen has kindly agreed to the dissolution of
Parliament and the general election will take place on May 6,"
Prime Minister Brown, accompanied by his Cabinet members,
announced on the footsteps of 10, Downing Street.
He stated this after his 22-minute meeting with Queen
Elizabeth at the Buckingham Palace, amidst intense speculation
that the ruling Labour party would bow out after a record 13
years in power.
The announcement sparked hectic activity across the
political spectrum and corridors of power in Westminster.
Brown, whose Labour is seeking a historic fourth term in
office, goes to the election with the claim that he is best
suited to take Britain out of recession, while Conservative
leader David Cameron promises change and undoing of the
alleged mistakes made by the government.
Opinion polls have thrown up two alternatives: a clear
Conservative victory or a hung Parliament. No poll in recent
times has suggested a Labour victory under Brown.
In the event of Labour or Conservative not winning a
majority, the Liberal Democrats will have a key say in the
formation of the next government - a nightmare scenario feared
by economists and financial observers.
Economy remains the number one election issue while the
Brown government has also made some tough announcements in
recent months on the sensitive issue of immigration.
For the first time in Britain, leaders of the three main
parties - Brown (Labour), Cameron (Conservative) and Nick
Clegg (Liberal Democrats) - will hold three live US-style
television debates before the elections.
Cameron, who promised `real change` and a `whole new
economic model`, said today: "You don`t have to put up with
another five years of Gordon Brown".
Insisting that the Conservative party did not have what
it takes to pull Britain out of recession, Brown said: "The
people have fought too hard to get Britain on the road to
recovery to allow anybody to take us back to the road to
According to Clegg, the election will be the "beginning
of the end for Gordon Brown", and claimed Brown was "directly
and personally responsible for the biggest mistakes of the
last 13 years".
In his speech, Brown noted that the election date had
been probably the worst-kept secret of recent years.
Over the last few months, he said, government at every
time fought hard, facing the biggest world recession, to fight
on behalf of hardworking families of middle and modest income.
"Over the new few weeks, I will go round the country,
the lengths and breadths of the land and I will talk to the
people, a very straight forward clear message: `Britain is on
the road to recovery and nothing we do should put back that
recovery at risk`."
"Many big challenges and many big decisions to make over
the next few months upon which our future success depends.
Get the big decisions right as we did in the last 18 months,
facing the world recession and jobs prosperity and better
standards of living will result.
"Get big decisions wrong and lives of hundreds of
thousands of people are diminished as a result. Our economy is
now moving forward but to withdraw billions of pounds from the
economy will put recovery at risk," the Prime Minister said.
Brown said "unemployment has now been falling but the
government that does not care to implement our plans, to help
the unemployed will see unemployment rise faster again, small
businesses are starting to grow but a double digit recession
will hit thousands of them."
He asked the British people for "a clear and straight
forward mandate" to continue the urgent and hard work of
securing the recovery, building the industry for the future
and creating a million skill jobs over the next five years.
"I`m also asking the British people for a mandate as we
cut the deficit by half over four years through fair taxes and
reduction in public expenditure."
"We will maintain and improve our frontline public
services; our police, our schools and our hospitals," he said,
adding he wanted to give direct guarantee to every single
person of Britain - "when you need the police, when you need
help for cancer care, when you need doctors at evening or
weekends, when you need children to have personal tuition at
school, then these public services will be there."
"We will not allow 13 years of investment and reform in
our public service achievements to be put at risk," he said.
Asserting that he was not a team of one but one of the
team, Brown said "we will fight for fairness at all levels.
The future is within our grasp and its for a future for all.
All of us, let us go for it."
"I come from an ordinary middle class family in an
ordinary time and I know from where I come from and I will
never forget the values, doing the right thing, doing the
duty, taking responsibility, telling the truth, working hard
that my parents instilled in me," he said.
Praising soldiers who have been fighting al Qaeda in
Afghanistan, he said his government would support them in
"The mandate is also to improve public trust in our
democracy and in our public life. Politics has been scarred by
recent events and in the next few days I will put forward a
comprehensive plan so that people of this country can be sure
that there is transparent, accountable, open democratic
politics pursued in our country at every stage accountable to
them in the future."