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Blair Calls for May 5 Parliamentary Election


British Prime Minister Tony Blair Tuesday has called the parliamentary election for May 5. The anticipated announcement starts a four-week campaign to inspire the increasingly apathetic British voting public.

The date of the election in one month came as no surprise, but it was not official until the Prime Minister met with the Queen.

Tony Blair then broke the news outside of his official London residence at 10 Downing Street.

"I have just been to Buckingham Palace to ask the Queen to dissolve parliament, which she has graciously consented to do. And, there will now be a general election in Britain on May the 5," said Mr. Blair.

Mr. Blair hopes to put Britain's strong economy at the center of his election campaign. He believes high employment figures and low inflation will translate into a third consecutive election victory for his Labor Party.

"It is also going to be about a big and positive vision for the future of our country,” Mr. Blair added. “We are proud of what we have achieved over the last eight years but we should never stand still and over these coming weeks, we want to set out that vision."

The Conservative Party, which lost the last two general elections by a large margin, promised to make the campaign a bruising fight. Party leader Michael Howard said the campaign will be personal and rough.

"The choice before voters on May the 5 is very clear. They can either reward Mr. Blair for eight years of broken promises and vote for another five years of talk or they can vote Conservative," said Mr. Howard.

Charles Kennedy, the leader of the third political party in Britain, the Liberal Democrats, promised to offer an alternative to the increasingly apathetic British voters.

"I am going to be addressing peoples' hopes, not playing on peoples' fears. And that is going to be the positive message of the Liberal Democrats in this campaign," said Mr. Kennedy.

The Labor Party hopes to retain a majority in Parliament, despite a series of setbacks for Mr. Blair and his party over the past four years. The Prime Minister lost a great deal of credibility leading Britain into an unpopular war in Iraq based on what turned out to be faulty intelligence. The rival Conservatives say they will make his trustworthiness a key issue in the campaign.

Mr. Blair, however, sounded undaunted.

"It is a big choice. It is a big decision. The British people are the boss and they are the one that will make it. I look forward to seeing you all on the campaign trail," said Mr. Blair.

Although Labor remains the favorite to win, early polls anticipate a much closer race than the previous two.

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