Gordon Brown dissolves Parliament, calls Britain general election
Prime Minister Gordon Brown asked Queen Elizabeth to dissolve parliament today, setting the stage for a general election in Britain in which the rival Tories are the front-runners.
Long-anticipated general elections in Britain, now set for May 6, kicked off today as Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrived at Buckingham Palace mid-morning to ask Queen Elizabeth to dissolve parliament, the final step before campaigning begins. It is the first time the queen has intervened since the early 1990s.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The outcome is by no means certain. In early winter, with fresh-faced Conservative Party leader David Cameron promising “change” after the term of the more dour incumbent, Mr. Brown of the Labour Party, it looked to be a blowout for Mr. Cameron. But the race has tightened to about 8 points, with a Guardian poll this morning describing only a 4-point difference between the two, making it the tightest race in some 20 years, some analysts say.
But in the eyes of most British pundits, the race remains Cameron's to lose. Prof. Steven Fielding of the School of Politics at Nottingham University says that today’s appearance by Gordon Brown outside No. 10 Downing Street, when he announced the election date while flanked by members of his cabinet, was indicative of his unpopularity.
“What we heard him emphasize was that he is part of a team. And that is what you do when you are not very popular,” he says. “It contrasts with the election in 1997, when it was all about Tony Blair rather than the party and those around him."
As helicopters buzzed above Central London tracking the departure of Brown’s car from the pro forma meeting with the queen, Cameron was speaking from the south bank of the River Thames: "It is the most important election for a generation and it comes down to this: You don't have to put up with another five years of Gordon Brown,” he said. Cameron, apparently taking a page from the Obama campaign, spoke of “hope," and "the fresh start this country needs.”