LONDON, Mar 30 : Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday announced the start of the campaign for Britain's May 7 election after meeting Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace to formalise the dissolution of parliament.
In a speech in front of his residence at 10 Downing Street following his royal audience, Cameron said that voters faced a "stark choice" between him and his main centre-left challenger, Labour's Ed Miliband.
Both Conservative leader Cameron and opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband have already set out their battle lines for May 7, focusing respectively on the economy and the state-run National Health Service (NHS). Campaign buses will criss-cross the country and candidates with colourful rosettes from their respective parties will go door-to-door in an election in which every last ballot could be key.
The two main parties concede there is still everything to play for, and much is at stake -- not least because Cameron has promised a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union if he is elected for a second term.
The Conservatives and Labour have been neck and neck in opinion polls for months, and two new surveys published on Sunday indicate the race remains incredibly tight.
A ComRes poll for ITV News and the Daily Mail put the Tories four points ahead on 36 percent, to Labour's 32 percent -- their biggest advantage since September 2010.
However, a YouGov poll for the Sunday Times gave the exact opposite result, putting Labour four points ahead on 36 percent.
The surveys were conducted after the first major election event, a live televised question and answer session on Thursday, in which neither Cameron nor Miliband delivered a knock-out blow.
Neither the Tories or Labour however look likely to win a majority in the 650-seat House of Commons, and would have to seek the support of smaller parties to form a stable government.
Meanwhile the Scottish National Party (SNP) has emerged as a new force in national politics, despite losing last year's independence referendum, and looks set to take most of the seats north of the border. Most of these are at Labour's expense, raising the prospect of an alliance with the SNP.
The Tories have their own challenge from the anti-EU, anti-immigration UK Independence Party (UKIP), which is expected to take a handful of their seats and leech away support in others. ?AFP