Brown to seek May 6 for Britain’s election

By David Stringer
Associated Press / April 6, 2010

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LONDON — Prime Minister Gordon Brown will pay a visit today to Queen Elizabeth II to seek permission to dissolve Parliament and designate May 6 as the date for the first national vote since 2005, the Labor Party confirmed.

For Brown, appreciated by some but widely unloved, election day could mark the ignominious end of a three-year term beset by division within his party, relentless media sniping, and the near-collapse of the British economy.

Defeat would end a political era begun with Tony Blair’s landslide 1997 election victory, which returned the Labor Party to office and brought an unprecedented three successive election triumphs for the center-left party.

Britain’s Conservatives — the party of Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill — hope to win a national election for the first time since 1992.

Brown’s Labor Party is as much as 10 points behind the Conservatives and their articulate but untested leader, David Cameron, in opinion polls. But an unusual electoral map means the outcome is still uncertain, and some cracks are beginning to show in the Conservatives’ modern facade.

“The Conservative Party and its supporters really must understand the scale of the battle they have to fight,’’ former Conservative deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine told BBC radio.

Whoever ends up running the debt-plagued nation will face restive unions and a population that will be asked to contribute more and receive less.

Britain’s recession-wracked economy and enormous debt are likely to dominate the election campaign. Both Labor and Conservatives say they will trim spending and slash the country’s $250 billion deficit, but they differ on how deep, and how soon, to make cuts.