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UK's Brown meeting queen ahead of election

 Britain's Conservative Party leader David Cameron arrives at the Teenage Cancer trust unit at University College Hospital in London, Monday April 5, ...
 FILE - In this Wednesday March 24, 2010 file photo Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown attends the Budget Cabinet at 10 Downing Street in central L...

BRITAIN ELECTION

Britain's Conservative Party leader David Cameron arrives at the Teenage Cancer trust unit at University College Hospital in London, Monday April 5, ...

BRITAIN ELECTION

FILE - In this Wednesday March 24, 2010 file photo Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown attends the Budget Cabinet at 10 Downing Street in central L...

Prime Minister Gordon Brown left 10 Downing Street Tuesday to meet with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace to ask her to dissolve Parliament so a national election can be held May 6.
The symbolic act marks the start of the general election campaign as Brown fights for his political future with the Labour Party trailing in opinion polls after 13 years in power.
Brown says his success at managing the economic recession means he should be returned to power. Opposition Conservative Party leader David Cameron has also launched his campaign with an ambitious three-city tour.
For Brown, appreciated by some but widely unloved, election day could end a three-year tenure as prime minister marked by the near-collapse of the British economy and beset by division within his party.
Defeat would bring to a close a British political era that began with Tony Blair's landslide 1997 election victory, which returned the Labour Party to power and brought an unprecedented three successive electoral triumphs for the center-left organization. Britain's Conservatives _ the party of Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill _ hope to win a national election for the first time since 1992.
Brown _ who has never contested a national election as party leader _ is seeking to woo voters stung by the impact of the financial crisis, weary of the war in Afghanistan and furious at a scandal over lawmakers' inflated and fraudulent expense claims.
The 59-year-old, who succeeded Blair in 2007, said he'll stake his chances on his record in guiding Britain through the global economic meltdown.
"I have not spent the last two years taking this economy through the worst financial recession to sit back and allow a Conservative Party which has no idea about how to run the economy to put it all at risk," Brown told the Tuesday edition of Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper in an interview to announce his plans.
Brown's Labour Party is as much as 10 points behind the Conservatives and their articulate but untested leader, David Cameron, in some opinion polls. But an unusual electoral map means the outcome of the election is still uncertain.
An ICM poll published late Sunday by The Guardian newspaper showed Labour closing in on its main rival _ climbing four points to 33 percent with the opposition Tories down one point with 37 percent. Other polls, however, showed larger Tory leads.
Britain's recession-wracked economy and enormous debt will dominate the election campaign. Both Labour and the Conservatives say they will trim spending and slash the country's 167 billion pound ($250 billion) deficit _ but they differ on how deep, and how soon, to make cuts.
Cameron said his task was to convince ordinary Britons he can lead an economic revival, and offer an upbeat message about the country's future.
"We have the right big idea for the future of our country _ which is Labour's big government has failed," Cameron said outside his home on Tuesday. "And it's time for the Big Society."
The 43-year-old Cameron has sought to replace his party's fusty, right-wing image with a more modern brand of "compassionate Conservatism," and drawn more women and members of ethnic minorities to a party long dominated by affluent white men like himself.
His party has pledged to reverse Labour's planned hike to national insurance, a payroll tax, and implement about 6 billion pounds in spending cuts this year. Labour says major cuts should be deferred until 2011 to give the economy more time to recover.
Cameron's party also plans to cut the number of lawmakers, offer tax breaks to married couples and overhaul Britain's education system. Brown promises a public referendum on changing Britain's voting system, improved cancer treatment and a new high speed national rail network.
The major parties agree on international issues _ both would keep British troops in Afghanistan and seek to preserve the so-called "special relationship" with the U.S.
Disillusionment at mainstream politics following an expense claims scandal could benefit small and fringe parties in the election, including the Greens and the racist British National Party _ neither of whom currently hold a House of Commons seat.
Brown's Labour Party, conscious of voter cynicism, said the leader planned to visit people in their homes and workplace canteens _ following advice from strategists who worked with U.S. President Barack Obama.
The campaign will also include the first-ever televised debates between the leaders of Labour, the Conservatives and the third-placed Liberal Democrats.
With his bicycle riding, informal "call me Dave" manner and young family _ his wife Samantha is expecting their fourth child in September _ Cameron appears best placed to benefit from a personality-centered contest. Some see a parallel with Labour's former savior Blair, whose confident but easy style helped sweep his party to power in 1997.
Because of the quirks of Britain's electoral system, the Conservatives will need a significant margin to ensure a majority of House of Commons seats and oust Brown.
Many recent opinion polls suggest the election could result in a hung Parliament _ in which no party has an absolute majority _ for the first time since 1974. Those results could spell a second national election later this year.


Updated : 2021-04-16 23:37 GMT+08:00