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August 15, 2015

Scottish Labour elect Kezia Dugdale new leader

Scottish Labour elect Kezia Dugdale new leader

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

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Kezia Dugdale MSP, new leader of Scottish Labour.
Image: Scottish Labour.

Kezia Dugdale MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament) has been elected as the new leader for Scottish Labour, it was announced today in Stirling. Dugdale replaces former MP Jim Murphy who resigned in June following Labour losing 40 of its 41 Scottish seats in the UK general elections. Dugdale received 72.1% of the vote, beating out Ken Macintosh who got 27.9% of the vote. Alex Rowley MSP was elected deputy leader.

Dugdale — the youngest Scottish Labour leader at age 33, and the third woman to take the role — said she will now work “night and day” to try and restore Labour’s position in Scottish politics. In a statement to voters, she tried to appeal to Labour’s lost supporters: “Take another look at the Scottish Labour party. I am not so presumptuous to ask instantly for your vote. But at the recent election 700,000 of you stuck with us but many chose someone else. All I ask is that you take a fresh look at the Scottish Labour party under my leadership.”

Harriet Harman, who is acting leader while the leadership elections for the national party are underway, welcomed Dugdale’s election: “I would like to congratulate Kezia Dugdale on being elected as the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, and Alex Rowley on being elected as Deputy Leader. They will be leading the historic task of rebuilding our Party in Scotland, reconnecting Labour with the people of Scotland and re-energising the links between our party in Scotland, Wales and England, and I know they will lead the party in Scotland forward with energy and commitment to Labour values and principles and will have the full support of the whole of the Labour Party.”

Derek Mackay from the Scottish National Party said a change of leadership won’t fix “the deep, deep problems which the Labour Party in Scotland now faces”.

During the election campaign, Dugdale criticised the length of time it was taking to select a new national party leader, both for UK Labour and for the Scottish party, and expressed concern UK candidate Jeremy Corbyn would not be electable as Prime Minister, telling The Guardian: “I want there to be a Labour government; otherwise I’m wasting my time. I don’t want to spend my whole life just carping from the sidelines. […] Here’s a guy that’s broken the whip 500 times. So how can the leader of the party enforce discipline with that record?”

This week, she said on BBC Good Morning Scotland: “That is hardly the most critical thing that anybody has said about his campaign. I am excited about his campaign and many people across the country are.”

Deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives Jackson Carlaw described her change of tune on Corbyn’s leadership bid as a “spectacular flip-flop”: “Only last week she was attacking Mr Corbyn by warning that a Labour party led by him would be ‘carping from the sidelines’. Now she says that they ‘share the same views’. What appears to have changed her mind is the dawning realisation that Mr Corbyn is heading for a landslide victory and she needs to get on board if she’s going to win her own election campaign.”



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June 26, 2015

Former Scottish Conservatives leader Annabel Goldie to stand down as MSP

Former Scottish Conservatives leader Annabel Goldie to stand down as MSP

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Friday, June 26, 2015

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Annabel Goldie, Scottish leader from 2005 to 2011, has announced she will stand down as an MSP at the next elections in 2016. Goldie, who has been an MSP for the West Scotland (previously West of Scotland) electoral region since the Scottish Parliament’s formation in 1999, said she intends to focus on her role in the House of Lords, where she has been a peer since 2013.

File photo of Annabel Goldie.
Image: Wsdouglas.

In a statement today, Goldie said leading the party was an “enormous honour” for her. She also said: “It has afforded me both satisfaction and pleasure to serve my constituents and to serve the parliament and I will look back with great happiness at my time as an MSP. I am grateful to friends and colleagues from all parties for their support. Sometimes we found common ground, sometimes we disagreed but never I hope with rancour nor disrespect. Politics is a rough trade but we have built a strong parliament in Scotland of which we can all be rightly proud.” She said because of Ruth Davidson, her successor as Scottish Conservative leader, the party is now “in fine fettle and stands a great chance of making real progress in the years ahead,” concluding by saying: “I look forward to continuing to work as part of that effort in the House of Lords in the years to come.”

Davidson responded to the news by calling Goldie an “unstoppable force”, adding: “She has been an inspiration to a whole generation of Scottish Conservatives, and she has been a tremendous mentor, support and friend to me. In Holyrood, she has fostered both affection and respect from all members – regardless of their political affiliation – and her retirement from the Scottish Parliament will leave an Annabel-sized hole which won’t ever quite be filled. She is unique.” Meanwhile, David Cameron, leader and UK Prime Minister, said: “Annabel is one of those rare breeds in Scottish politics, somebody known by her first name alone. When she was Scottish Conservative leader, I valued her sage advice. She has been a towering strength to our party in Scotland, a doughty debater in the TV studios and Scottish Parliament and has one of the sharpest wits around. I wish her a long and happy retirement after 17 years unstinting service at Holyrood – but look forward to seeing her on the red benches of the Lords for years to come.”

Cquote1.svg In Holyrood, she has fostered both affection and respect from all members – regardless of their political affiliation – and her retirement from the Scottish Parliament will leave an Annabel-sized hole which won’t ever quite be filled. She is unique. Cquote2.svg

Ruth Davidson, Scottish Conservative Party leader

Goldie, the Scottish Conservatives’ first ever female leader, was elected unopposed. She took up the role in the aftermath of David McLetchie‘s resignation from the role in an expenses usage controversy and subsequent resignation of Brian Monteith from his Conservative whip role in the Scottish Parliament for briefing the media against him. Meanwhile, as Scottish Conservatives won 18 seats in the Scottish Parliament in 1999 and 2003, the party had been less successful in UK general elections in Scotland; Conservatives went up from zero out of a possible 72 UK MPs in Scotland in 1997 to one in 2001. This led to Goldie remarking in her inaugural speech in 2005 that: “The wheels are back on the wagon – and I’m the nag hitched up to tow it.” She also said: “The party is still way ahead of where it was in 1997. And my first task is to take it forward to 2007.” However, under Goldie’s leadership, the number of seats the Scottish Conservatives won in the Scottish Parliament slightly decreased from 18 in 2003 to 17 in 2007 and to 15 in 2011. At the same time, the number of Conservative MPs stood at one out of a possible 59 after the 2010 UK general election.

In the aforementioned 2005 speech, she also said the party could be trusted with devolution in Scotland, adding: “making devolution work better means real devolution: not the lumbering and cripplingly expensive array of government departments, government advisers, consultants, quangos, quasi-quangos and agencies with all their expensive appendages, but devolving down to people and their communities, their right to make their own decisions about their lives, how for example they procure healthcare and how they educate their children.” Goldie would go on to sit on the advisory board for the Smith Commission, which was set up to examine which further political powers should be devolved to Scotland following the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. More recently, Goldie supported a reduction in the voting age for Scottish Parliament elections from 18 to 16 in a vote earlier this month, commenting: “I think it is an opportunity for them to continue their high level of engagement in topical affairs that we saw with the independence referendum.”

Goldie, a member of the Salvation Army‘s West of Scotland Advisory Board and a Church of Scotland elder, is not the only Scottish Conservative MSP intending to stand down in 2016. Mary Scanlon, Gavin Brown, Alex Fergusson and Nanette Milne all reportedly intend to leave the Scottish Parliament next year.



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November 21, 2013

Scottish legislature gives green light to same-sex marriage

Scottish legislature gives green light to same-sex marriage

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Alex Neil introduced the legislation on behalf of the Scottish Government.
Image: The Scottish Government.

Members of the Scottish Parliament voted 98–15 in a free vote yesterday to approve the Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Bill, which seeks to legalise marriage between partners of the same sex. If the legislation is passed, Scotland may start allowing same-sex couples to marry in 2015.

Scottish government ministers have attempted to reassure religious groups who oppose same-sex marriage they will not be required by law to conduct them, but may “opt in” to conduct ceremonies for same-sex partners. The law also contains provisions that would protect individuals from being required to perform marriages if their congregation has opted-in but they disagree with same-sex marriage.

Alex Neil, the Scottish government health secretary, said the bill “will create a more tolerant society in Scotland and will mean that, in respect of marriage, there is genuinely equal rights right across the entire community”.

Support for the bill crossed party lines. Jim Hume from the Liberal Democrats said the vote was “a demonstration that our Scottish society values everyone — no matter their sexuality”.

Conservative MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament) Ruth Davidson — who is herself a lesbian — argued in Parliament that the bill “matters to the future nature of our country. We have an opportunity today to tell our nation’s children that, no matter where they live and no matter who they love, there is nothing that they cannot do. We will wipe away the last legal barrier that says that they are something less than their peers. We can help them to walk taller into the playground tomorrow and to face their accuser down knowing that the Parliament of their country has stood up for them and said that they are every bit as good as every one of their classmates.”

From the Labour party, Mary Fee argued against the claim that existing civil partnership legislation was satisfactory: “I ask the opponents of the bill who comment that civil partnerships were introduced for LGBT people whether the suffragettes were happy when the Representation of the People Act 1918 was introduced, allowing women over 30 to vote. No, they were not. They fought for a further decade to enfranchise all women and equalise the voting ages of men and women.”

Elaine Smith, also a Labour MSP, said she feared MSPs opposing same-sex marriage were being “bounced” into supporting the bill for fear of being branded homophobic. “Since indicating that I did not intend to support the redefinition of marriage, my religion’s been disparaged, I’ve been branded homophobic and bigoted, I’ve been likened to the Ku Klux Klan and it was suggested that I be burnt at the stake as a witch”, Smith claimed.

John Mason from the Scottish National Party said “Parliament is not reflecting public opinion on this issue” and the public was more divided on the issue than the parliamentarians in Holyrood were.

Outside the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, a demonstration was held by the LGBT rights group Equality Network supporting the bill. Tom French from the Equality Network said of the vote: “Tonight the Scottish Parliament voted by an overwhelming majority to back same-sex marriage and uphold the principle that we should all be equal under the law.”

Colin Macfarlane from the gay rights group Stonewall Scotland also welcomed the vote: “This is a truly historic step forward. We’re absolutely delighted that MSPs have demonstrated overwhelmingly that they’re in touch with the twenty-first century.”

The Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland both oppose the Bill. Reverend Dr William Hamilton from the Church of Scotland said while the Church opposes same-sex marriage, they stand against homophobia and “will continue to be a constructive voice in the national debate” about the bill.

In July, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill passed into law in Westminster and will allow same-sex couples to marry in England and Wales.



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October 18, 2012

Cameron, Salmond sign deal for referendum on Scottish independence

Cameron, Salmond sign deal for referendum on Scottish independence

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

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United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond have signed a deal for a referendum on Scottish independence to be held in the autumn of 2014. The deal, signed in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, gives the Scottish Government clear legal power to hold a referendum. The deal lapses if a referendum is not held before the end of 2014.

The deal, signed on Monday, achieves a compromise between the proposals of Mr Cameron and Mr Salmond. Sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds are to be allowed to vote in the referendum. Mr Salmond favoured this. However, there is to be only one question on the ballot paper, a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question on whether Scotland should be independent. Mr Salmond had proposed a second question on the ballot paper, on so-called ‘devo-max’. This would have given Scotland full tax-raising powers while still remaining inside the United Kingdom if voters rejected independence.

The pro- and anti-independence campaigns have been setting out their positions. The pro-independence campaign, which is led by former BBC Scotland news chief Blair Jenkins and supported by Mr Salmond’s Scottish National Party and the Scottish Green Party, seeks to convince voters of the benefits of independence. Mr Salmond said: “The agreement will see Scotland take an important step toward independence, and the means to create a fairer and more prosperous Scotland. I look forward to working positively for a yes vote in 2014.” The anti-independence campaign Better Together is headed up by former U.K. chancellor Alistair Darling and is supported by the Scottish Labour Party, the Scottish Conservatives, and the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Mr Darling suggested Scotland leaving the union would mean a pointlessly “uncertain future”.

Currently, Scotland is run through devolution. The Scottish Parliament can make laws on ‘devolved’ issues, which include health, education, and policing. However, the U.K. parliament still has power over ‘reserved’ issues like defence, foreign affairs, and taxation.



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July 7, 2008

Candidates begin campaigning for Glasgow East by-election

Candidates begin campaigning for Glasgow East by-election

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Monday, July 7, 2008

In Scotland, candidates have begun campaigning for the Labour-held constituency of Glasgow East, at which a by-election is due to be held on July 24 on account of former MP David Marshall’s resignation due to stress-related health problems. There are currently 7 candidates in the running to be elected for the Westminster seat. The deadline for nominations is on Wednesday, July 9.

The SNP, who lead a minority administration in the devolved Scottish Parliament, has attacked Labour for Glasgow East’s citizens’ average life expectancy being lower than the Gaza Strip’s.

At the last general election in 2005, Labour won with 60.7% of the vote, holding a 13,507-vote majority over runners up the Scottish National Party (SNP), who gained 17%. However there were delays in their candidate selection process when the frontrunner, George Ryan, dropped out for family reasons. Their nomination consequently went to Margaret Curran, MSP for the Scottish Parliament seat of Glasgow Baillieston and health and wellbeing spokeswoman for the Labour Party’s Scottish arm. Set to start campaigning on Tuesday, she said she is determined to fight poverty and expressed her confidence in the party, claiming that “Labour’s fightback starts right here, right now.”

UK newspaper The Independent has claimed that it has information from MPs and a senior member of the Labour government, which states that they will seek to replace prime minister Gordon Brown if the party do not win the by-election. Labour MP Ian Gibson, who held a majority of over 5,000 votes in his constituency of Norwich North told the paper that “the by-election in Glasgow is crucial. If he cannot win in his own backyard, things are desperate. I think he might go voluntarily.”

Glasgow East by-election
Party Candidate
Scottish Socialists Frances Curran
Labour Margaret Curran
Scottish Greens Dr. Eileen Duke
Solidarity Tricia McLeish
Scottish Nationals John Mason
Conservative Davena Rankin
Liberal Democrat Ian Robertson

Scottish first minister and SNP party leader Alex Salmond began the party’s campaign today alongside candidate John Mason, who is a councillor in the city. “There’s a political earthquake on the way in Glasgow East,” Mr. Salmond told reporters at a community centre in the constituency earlier, claiming that the area’s below-average statistics were a “condemnation of 50 years of Labour Party representation and Labour Party failure”. Mr. Mason also attacked Labour, saying that “Labour MPs are so out of touch they voted to increase tax by another 10p.” He is basing the SNP campaign around acting on rising energy costs.

Scottish newspaper The Herald reported that the by-election is “expected to be a two-horse race between the Nationalists and Labour,” but other parties have also been out campaigning:

The Liberal Democrat Party, third-place in 2005, have selected mathematics teacher Ian Robertson as their candidate. He will begin campaigning on Tuesday. Meanwhile the Conservatives, who came fourth at the general election with 6.7%, are aiming high, party leader David Cameron visiting the constituency today to launch his campaign which is themed on “social decay”, and trying to “repair the damage” of Britain’s “broken society”. He said the party would solve problems like knife crime and poverty by “treating not just the symptoms, but the causes too.”

Also vying for the seat are Solidarity, who selected council worker Tricia McLeish, the Scottish Socialist Party, with former MSP Frances Curran, whose campaign begins on Tuesday, and the Scottish Green Party whose Eileen Duke, a retired GP, will fight the election.



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May 4, 2007

Party supporting Scottish independence from UK wins elections

Party supporting Scottish independence from UK wins elections

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Friday, May 4, 2007

Debating chamber in Scottish Parliament building
Image: Pschemp.

The Scottish National Party (SNP), which supports Scottish independence from the UK, has pulled off a historic, albeit narrow, victory in yesterday’s Scottish elections.

In the third Scottish election since the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, the left of centre SNP beat the ruling Labour Party by a single seat. It won 47 seats, while Labour won 46, down from the current 50.

It is the first time since the parliament opened that Labour has been beaten, and the first time in fifty years that they have not had a majority of Scottish constituency seats in any election.

SNP leader Alex Salmond declared: “Scotland has changed for good and forever.” He added that the Labour Party had “lost the moral authority to govern Scotland.”

The current First Minister of Scotland, Jack McConnell of Labour said: “While I recognise that the SNP are the largest party by the narrowest of margins, Alex Salmond must himself recognise that he does not have a majority in the Scottish Parliament or anywhere near a majority of the vote.”

It is believed that many factors caused the Labour vote to slump and the SNP vote to rise, including the war in Iraq and the renewal of Trident, which are both unpopular in Scotland.

The election also raises a serious dilemma for the Labour party’s Gordon Brown, a Scotsman widely tipped to succeed Tony Blair as the next prime minister of the United Kingdom. Brown is vehement in his support of the Union, and is a Westminster (London parliament) MP for Kirkcaldy. An SNP government in Scotland will find itself facing the very Labour party it beat in power in London.

Turnout was up 2% on the last Scottish election.

Controversy

The election was highly controversial, not least for having three separate systems, running in tandem –

  • A constituency vote, which was “first past the post”, and for a candidate.
  • A regional list vote, which was additional member system, and was for a party.
  • A local authority (council) vote, which was Single Transferable Vote, and in which parties could field more than one candidate in a ward.

The three systems, along with difficulties with electronic counting meant that maybe as many as one hundred thousand ballot papers were “spoiled”. In addition, there was also huge problems with the postal vote.

Due to the extensive computer problems, votes had to be cancelled early on Friday morning, and postponed to later in the day.

Many other problems beset the election, with a helicopter from the Western Isles constituency being held up by fog, and a boat carrying ballot papers from the Isle of Arran, breaking down in the Firth of Clyde.

Other parties

In addition to the SNP and Labour, the other parties results’ were as follows –

  • Conservative and Unionist – 17 members.
  • Liberal Democrats – 16 members.
  • Scottish Greens – 2 members.
  • Independent – 1 (Margo MacDonald, formerly of the SNP)

The Scottish Socialist Party, Solidarity and the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party were all wiped out.

In order to establish a majority in the Scottish Parliament, the SNP must form a coalition with one or more of these parties. The Liberal Democrats, who were in coalition with the Labour party in the first two terms of the Scottish parliament, are a possibility.

Other parties that campaigned for seats in Holyrood included the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), the British National Party (BNP), the Scottish Unionist Party, the Scottish Socialist Labour Party, the Christian Peoples Alliance and the Scottish Christian Party.

Gains and losses

The Scottish National Party, while not gaining the landslide it had wished for, made breakthroughs in Glasgow (Govan), Edinburgh (Edinburgh East) and also took both seats in Dundee.

The Liberal Democrats gained seats in Dunfermline West, but their losses mean the number of seats they hold is unchanged.

Wales and England

While the Scottish election was going on, the Welsh were also having their election for the Welsh Assembly. Plaid Cymru gained a seat from Labour at Llanelli. The Conservatives had their best showing since the Assembly began.

The final results show that the membership for the new assembly will be:-

Labour 26 -4 Plaid Cymru 15 +3 Conservatives 12 +1 Liberal Democrats 6 – Independent 1 –

In England, the elections were more minor, dealing only with local authorities. However they can be an important indicator of how battleground seats might go in the General Election, expected in 2-3 years time. The Conservatives made the greatest gains, but did not make the breakthrough in Northern England that they would have hoped. The Liberal Democrats did not make the advances that they had hoped, and stayed at more or less the same level. Elsewhere, Cornish regionalists Mebyon Kernow gained an extra seat bringing their total to seven, and the Eurosceptic United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and Liberal Party (not to be confused with the Liberal Democrats) gained seats in several areas of England.

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Wikinews Shorts: May 4, 2007

Wikinews Shorts: May 4, 2007 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: May 4, 2007

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A compilation of brief news reports for Friday, May 4, 2007.

Newspaper accuses Ahmadinejad of indecency

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been accused of “indecency and violating religious values” for embracing and kissing the hand of an elderly woman – his former schoolteacher – to express his gratitude.

The Iranian Hezbollah newspaper issued a statement saying, “The Muslim Iranian people have no recollection of such acts contrary to Shariah law during Islamic rule.” The Iranian government instituted Shariah law soon after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Ahmadinejad has been criticised in the past for his objections to the enforcement of hijab and for permitting women to attend soccer matches.

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Campaigning drawing to a close for French presidential candidates

Logo of the French Republic

Ségolène Royal (Socialist Party) and Nicolas Sarkozy (UMP) made their final appeals to voters today.

Campaigning is not allowed tomorrow or on the day of voting, which will take place on Sunday, May 6.

Royal, who has been falling behind in the polls, said, “It is my responsibility today to alert people to the risk of [his] candidature with regards to the violence and brutality that would be unleashed in the country [if he won],” specifically referring to the type of violence seen in the 2005 civil unrest.

Sarkozy responded in a radio interview with Europe 1: “She’s not in a good mood this morning. It must be the opinion polls… She’s finishing in violence, in a certain state of feverishness. When I hear her remarks, I wonder why a woman of her qualities carries such violent feelings. It adds nothing to the debate.”

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Scottish elections: SNP gains 20 seats

Scottish Parliament Building
Please also see a full article at: Party supporting Scottish independence from UK wins elections

Following yesterday’s parliamentary election, the Scottish National Party (SNP), led by Alex Salmond, became the largest party in the new Scottish Parliament. The SNP is committed to hold a referendum on Scottish independence by 2010.

After a confusing day, in an election marred by many thousands of rejected ballot papers, the party has a 1 seat advantage over the Scottish Labour Party (SLP) who have controlled the Executive for the last 8 years.

For Salmond to become take the position of First Minister from SLP’s Jack McConnell he needs to gain the support of another party. Only the Scottish Conservative Party and the Scottish Liberal Democrats (the current junior partner of the SLP) are large enough.

The parliament election was held on a combined ‘first past the post’ and Party List system, at the same time as local council elections, (which do not have the same constituencies) and used, for the first time, a Single Transferable Vote system. This appears to have confused many voters and led to a high number of spoilt papers.

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April 5, 2005

UK Prime Minister sets 2005 General Election date

UK Prime Minister sets 2005 General Election date

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Tuesday, April 5, 2005

There are only two days left for all remaining legislation to be passed.

The United Kingdom Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Tony Blair PC MP, at 09:00 UTC today formally requested the Queen to dissolve Parliament on April 11, thereby confirming May 5 to be the date for the next General Election.

Mr Blair had delayed the formal request for the dissolution of Parliament for 1 day, as a mark of respect for Pope John Paul II, who died on Saturday April 2. All political parties had suspended campaiging for two days; and Mr Blair and other politicians had been attending services to mourn the death of the Pope.

Timetable for the dissolution of Parliament

The wedding of His Royal Highness Prince Charles had previously been scheduled for Friday April 8, and hence Members of Parliament (Lords and Commons) would have not sat on that day and would have stopped sitting on Thursday April 7. However, because of that subsequently being the date set for the funeral of Pope John Paul II, the wedding has been postponed to Saturday April 9.

Members of Parliament (Lords and Commons) will thus stop sitting on Friday April 8. This leaves just four days for all remaining legislation to be passed. It is expected that some government bills will be simply dropped, to be reintroduced in the next Parliament if the Labour Party wins the General Election.

The last Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons is scheduled to be tomorrow, Wednesday April 6 at 11:00 UTC.

After the election, the new Parliament is scheduled to be summoned on Wednesday May 11. Its first business will be the election of the Speaker and the swearing-in of members. The State Opening of Parliament is scheduled to then be on Tuesday May 17.

General Election campaigns start

The calling of the General Election marks the formal beginning of the general election campaigns by the U.K. political parties, although in practice all three major parties have been actively campaigining for several weeks. The Conservative Party election slogan “Are you thinking what we’re thinking?” was, for example, used by the party leader Michael Howard in his response to the Budget report on March 16, 2005 and was launched by the Scottish Conservatives on March 10.

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Full election 2005 coverage.

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