SHAFAQNA – In a closely contested poll, British voters go on Thursday, May 7, to pick the leader of the government, as Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives and Ed Miliband’s opposition Labour Party go neck and neck in opinion polls. “This race is going to be the closest we have ever seen,” Miliband told supporters in Pendle, in northern England, on the eve of the vote, Reuters reported.
“It is going to go down to the wire.”
Cameron said only his Conservatives could deliver strong, stable government: “All other options will end in chaos.”
The voting process went on as each party put the final touches on its manifesto,
Wooing Britons to vote for them, the incumbent Conservatives have portrayed themselves as the party of jobs and economic recovery, promising to reduce income tax for 30 million people while forcing through further spending cuts to eliminate a budget deficit still running at 5 percent of GDP.
Labour says it would cut the deficit each year, raise income tax for the highest 1 percent of earners and defend the interests of hard-pressed working families and Britain’s treasured but financially stretched National Health Service.
“I think Labour is best for the good of the whole country. The Conservatives have cut spending too much,” said student Abi Samuel at a polling station in Edinburgh’s well-heeled New Town.
“What disappoints me is that there was too much on the National Health Service, hospitals and schools but not enough on the deficit – no one showed us the figures,” he said.
Polls open at 0600 GMT for the United Kingdom’s 48 million voters and close at 2100 GMT.
An exit poll will be published as soon as polls close, and most results are expected in the early hours of Friday.
Of seven opinion polls released on the last day before voting, three showed the two main parties tied. Three put the Conservatives ahead by a single percentage point, and one gave Labour a two-point lead.
Leading pollster Peter Kellner of YouGov predicted the Conservatives would end up with 284 seats to Labour’s 263, with the Scottish Nationalists on 48, Liberal Democrats 31, the anti-European Union UK Independence Party (UKIP) two, Greens one, and Welsh and Northern Irish parties 21.
If that proved correct, either of the two big parties would need support from at least two smaller ones in order to get laws through parliament.
If a durable government could not be formed, Britain could face political instability and even possibly a second election.
On the other hand, marginal parties in Scotland and England appeared to steal millions of votes from established parties.
Scottish nationalists, who lost an independence vote last September, are likely to win the lion’s share of seats in Scotland, capturing dozens from Labour, and making Miliband’s chances of winning an overall majority much slimmer.
In England, UKIP has courted Conservative and Labour voters, but is likely to do most damage to Cameron’s chances of a majority.