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British report British report
by Euro Reporter
2010-04-07 07:49:44
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Election race begins

Political leaders have headed off on the campaign trail after Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the UK general election would be held on 6 May. He said he would seek a "clear" mandate to continue the "road to recovery", as Labour bids for a fourth term.

David Cameron, whose Conservative Party has been ahead in the polls, said they offered "hope" and a "fresh start".  Nick Clegg, leader of the UK's third biggest party the Liberal Democrats, said only they offered "real change".  Shortly after announcing the date at Downing Street, Mr Brown boarded a train and headed to Kent to meet voters at a supermarket in Rochester, Mr Cameron headed to a hospital in Edgbaston, Birmingham while Mr Clegg met young people in Watford.

All three are leading their parties into a general election for the first time.  Announcing the widely-predicted 6 May election date after meeting the Queen, Mr Brown said he wanted a "clear and straightforward mandate" to continue the work of economic recovery.  He said he would be travelling the country telling voters: "Britain is on the road to recovery and nothing we do should put that recovery at risk." He added: "We will not allow 13 years of investment and reform in our public services, to build up the future of these great services, to be put at risk."

Mr Brown also said he would produce a plan to make politics more transparent and accountable. Stressing his "ordinary middle-class background", he said Labour would "fight for fairness at all times".  Mr Brown said: "We will say to the British people: 'Our cause is your cause'," before adding: "Let's go to it."  But Mr Cameron said he offered a "modern Conservative alternative" and his party offered "hope, optimism and change" and a "fresh start".  "It's the most important general election for a generation. It comes down to this. You don't have to put up with another five years of Gordon Brown."  He criticised 13 years of Labour's "big government" and said it was time for the Tories' "big society" instead. He pledged to work for the "great ignored", who he described as "honest hard-working people" who "do the right thing"


The fight for decent people

David Cameron stole a march on Gordon Brown today by beating him to the starting line and delivering the first speech of the election campaign. The Tory leader took first blood after the Prime Minister visited the Queen to ask for Parliament to be dissolved and her permission for a general election to go ahead on May 6. Mr Cameron delivered an off-the-cuff address before Mr Brown could draw breath and appear outside Number Ten to formally announce he was going to the country.

The party leader, watched by his pregnant wife Samantha, declared that the election would be the 'most important for a generation' as he spoke on London's South Bank opposite Parliament. Surrounded by minority and women candidates, he declared that the Tories offered voters a future of 'hope, optimism and change'. Stressing the importance of the poll, he said: 'It is about the future of our economy, it's about the future of our society, and it’s about the future of our country.'

He vowed to stand up for the 'great ignored' who 'work hard, pay their taxes and obey the law' as he pledge to mend Britain's broken economy, society and politics.  'They may be black or white. They may be rich or poor. They may live in the town or the country,' he said - although he was criticised for leaving out 'gay or straight'. The words had been added in to the written version of his address, but he forgot to say them - an omission that was quickly spotted by commentators. It comes just two days after the party was embroiled in a row about homosexuality sparked by shadow home secretary Chris Grayling saying B&B owners should be allowed to turn away gay couples.


Green party fields highest-ever number of election candidates

The Green party is fielding a record number of candidates at the general election amid hopes it will win its first parliamentary seat. The party is hoping to gain from voter disaffection with mainstream parties following the expenses scandal, campaigning under the slogan: "Fair is worth fighting for." More than 300 Green candidates will contest seats throughout the country – including a full slate in London, where the party is represented on the capital's assembly by Darren Johnson and Jenny Jones.

All eyes are on the top target seat of Brighton Pavilion, where the party's leader, Caroline Lucas, is standing – although the Greens only came third in the constituency in 2005, nearly 6,000 votes behind Labour, which took the seat. Johnson, one of the most recognisable members of the Green party due to being a thrice-elected member of the assembly as well as a Lewisham councillor of eight years, is fighting the Lewisham Deptford seat.

"We go into this general election with a real chance of getting Green MPs elected for the first time ever," he said. "Here in Lewisham Deptford, we have transformed what was once a safe Labour seat into a key Green battleground.”We have overturned large Labour majorities in the council elections and now it's time to do it in the general election."

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