Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Contest Begins: Change V Continuity

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Contest Begins: Change V Continuity

Article excerpt

AT LAST, it's official. The election campaign, which has been unofficially under way for what seems like months, has been formally launched. Gordon Brown has presented himself and his Cabinet to the people for what he calls the "big choice", pointedly remarking that he, at least, is not a "team of one". Meanwhile, David Cameron, in a spirited speech reminiscent of Tony Blair at his best, said that the election "is about the future of our economy, it's about the future of our society, it's about the future of our country". Indeed, he roundly declared: "It's the most important General Election for a generation." He has set the tone for the Tories: optimism and vigour.

We have, then, the outline of the campaign: change versus continuity. Whatever else it is, this contest will be close. The outcome really could go either way. Today, two polls produced two quite separate results. One, by ICM, gives the Tories a two-point lead and could translate into a Labour lead. The other, for YouGov, gives the Tories a 10-point lead and would give them a potential majority. The parties have everything to play for, including, for once, the Lib-Dems. Our votes count.

The London Evening Standard is a paper with the capital's interests at heart. And our manifesto for London will bring into focus the city's needs. Obviously, like the rest of Britain, Londoners care about the quality of public services, law and order, public transport. But London is also the engine for the entire economy; the City generates the lion's share of the revenue that the Government uses to fund those services. This paper is in favour of measures to protect the City, to ensure that wealth creators remain here and that overseas investors want to come here.

But as our reports on poverty in London demonstrate, the capital also includes areas of severe social deprivation. The parties must be held to account for the way their policies will impact on the poorest families.

The campaign has opened with a spat about tax: in particular about Alistair Darling's plans for an increase in National Insurance contributions. …

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