Page last updated at 08:22 GMT, Tuesday, 6 April 2010 09:22 UK

As it happened: 6 April (part one)

Gordon Brown announces general election

This page covers events on 6 April 2010 up to and shortly after Gordon Brown's announcement of an election on 6 May. For coverage of the rest of the day see The Full Election Story: 6 April or for an overview of the whole day see UK election at-a-glance: 6 April .

By Justin Parkinson

1115 Our live coverage continues over on our special general election site.

Ben Wright
1111The BBC's Ben Wright says: Hope, optimism and change. David Cameron promises to repaint Britain, not just give it a lick of paint. His speech is meant to cut through the post-expenses, post-recession wariness that many voters have about politics. He promises real political and economic change and an end to big government is the cornerstone his claim to change. The Conservatives' National Insurance cut gets a big mention. It will be a key policy dividing line of the campaign.

1109 After the election, Parliament will not return until 18 May, a full 12 days after polling. This gap has been left to deal with the possibility of a hung Parliament, where no party gains an overall Commons majority. It is normally closer to a week.

1100 Spectator magazine editor Fraser Nelson says the prime minister wants to stress that Labour's campaign is "collective". The Daily Mirror's Kevin Maguire says David Cameron's approach will be more "presidential", focusing on the leader.

Nick Robinson
1056 BBC political editor Nick Robinson says things are "different" with the election campaign proper under way. Ministers and advisers will leave their offices and the action will "move into the country".

1054 Mr Brown says he will not allow 13 years of investment in public services to be put at risk. He promises to improve public trust in politics, following the MPs' expenses saga. Democracy has been "scarred" by recent events, Mr Brown says. He is "not a team of one" but "one of a team", he says, as his ministerial colleagues look on. "Let's go to it," the prime minister says in conclusion. He spoke for six minutes.

1051 Mr Brown says Britain is on the road to recovery and that it is important to get the "big decisions right". There are some very poor acoustics - the microphones seem to be picking up passing air traffic. The prime minister asks voters for a clear mandate to build industries for the future and to create jobs. The microphones are sorted now.

Gordon Brown
1049 The prime minister, flanked by the cabinet, appears in Downing Street. He says the Queen has agreed to the dissolution of Parliament and the election will take place on 6 May.

Nick Robinson
1047 BBC political editor Nick Robinson says all of the party leaders "want to look like they're not part of the Westminster village", hence Mr Cameron's decision to head off to Birmingham later today, while Mr Brown will be going to meet voters in Kent.

1041 The Conservative leader says the country needs more than a "lick of paint", calling for a "whole new change".

1039 Mr Cameron tells his audience that it is time for the government to support the "Big Society", outlining the differences between his party and Labour over public services. Expect to hear this much more over the next four weeks or so. Mr Cameron also promises to campaign on behalf of the "great ignored".

David Cameron
1035 David Cameron is at the Conservatives' campaign launch in central London. Plenty of applause from his supporters. He says the election is the "most important for a generation". The Tories offer a "fresh start", while there is a "real choice" between the parties, he adds.

1032 Quick as a flash, faster than a speeding bullet (almost), the prime minister is back in Downing Street.

1031 The motorcade is making rapid progress. The BBC's Huw Edwards suggests the central London traffic has been "manipulated" for the occasion.

1029 The prime minister is leaving for Downing Street. He gives the assembled photographers a big smile.

1028 Gordon Brown is still at the Palace, his car waiting outside. That's about 20 minutes so far.

comment from blogger
After three years of ifs, buts and maybes since the "election that never was" debacle in 2007, we're going to be put out of our misery this week. The phoney war that has been fought out by the political class, to the bemusement of the electorate, is one of the least appealing aspects of our elitist political culture.

1021 The Guardian's political sketch-writer, Simon Hoggart, reminds us that events beyond the control of politicians can have a major bearing on election campaigns. With important economic figures due out soon, we should take nothing for granted, he adds.

1018 On his Twitter feed, Gordon Brown's special adviser Justin Forsyth says the prime minister is looking "calm and determined" and is "making us all laugh".

1015 Gordon Brown's former spin doctor, Charlie Whelan, now at the Unite union, says his old boss is a "man of substance", whereas David Cameron "is all PR".

Nick Robinson
1011 Nick Robinson says Mr Brown faces a "very different" challenge to any he has faced before, having to go before the electorate as Labour leader. He must make the argument that his "skills are still needed now", as the UK attempts to recover from the effects of the recession.

1007 Gordon Brown has arrived at the Palace to meet the Queen. He should re-emerge shortly, having been granted a dissolution of Parliament.

1005 Mr Brown's cavalcade makes its way to Buckingham Palace. A Tory activist holds up a placard visible to the news helicopter bearing the party's slogan "Vote for Change". Incidentally, it is only when one gets an aerial view of London that the true length of a "bendy bus" becomes apparent. The PM's car is dwarfed.

Gordon Brown
1002 Gordon Brown has left 10 Downing Street for the Palace.

1000 The media helicopter is hovering above Downing Street, with crowds milling on Whitehall. How does a cameraperson get a good vantage point from up there? Do they lean out of the chopper? Surely not.

David Cameron
0957 Tory leader David Cameron says he is "delighted" the campaign is finally starting. Will the country share his enthusiasm?

0955 The cabinet is still in session in Downing Street. Not long to go.

comment from blogger
By a curious quirk of fate, the Conservatives will hold their press conferences between now and the general election in precisely the same Millbank Tower room that Labour used in 1997. Instead of red roses on the walls there will be blue sky covering the backdrop. But as he hits the campaign trail today, David Cameron's message will be the same as Tony Blair's: Vote for Change.

0950 The Queen is arriving by helicopter at Buckingham Palace for her meeting with the prime minister.

Nick Robinson
0948 BBC political editor Nick Robinson says it is important not to read too much detail into every opinion poll. Look at the trends, rather than the daily findings, he adds. Looking back, he says the last Parliament has been a "troubled" one, with the recession and growing threat of terrorism among some of the problems faced - not to mention the fiasco over MPs' expenses.

0941 Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne, MP for the marginal seat of Eastleigh, says tight contests like the one he faces are a good thing. They make parliamentarians raise their game, he adds. His party's Treasury spokesman, Vince Cable, has "got it right all along" on the economy, Mr Huhne says.

0937 In media terms this campaign will be unprecedented. Some 50 years after Nixon and Kennedy first battled on-screen in the US presidential race, it's our turn for some leaders' TV debates. Not to mention the use of social media, such as Twitter. But, for the activists, the story never changes: pounding the pavement, talking to voters. They'll be getting through some shoe leather over the next 30 days, with 650 constituencies up for grabs. At least the weather's good in London, for the time being.

0934 Michael Gove, the shadow schools secretary, says the Conservatives are ready for the campaign. He says Gordon Brown's "tax on jobs" - an increase in National Insurance - will "kill the recovery".

0931 BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell says the Queen will be keen to keep her audience with Gordon Brown brief, as she has other engagements later today.

Nick Robinson
0927 Opinion polls this morning vary widely. A YouGov survey for the Sun and another by Opinium for the Daily Express suggest the Tories have opened up a 10-point lead - a margin likely to give David Cameron an outright majority on 6 May. But an ICM survey for the Guardian indicates the Tory lead has dropped to just four points. This would probably mean a hung Parliament - with no party gaining a Commons majority. We live in interesting, unpredictable, some might say confusing, times. BBC political editor Nick Robinson says the polls show many people have yet to make up their minds.

0924 Standing on the steps of 10 Downing Street, Mr Brown is expected to say the UK faces three "big challenges" - securing the recovery, protecting front-line services whilst halving the deficit, and renewing politics. Mr Cameron will argue that the Conservatives are the party of the "great ignored". Meanwhile, Mr Clegg will claim the country has become less fair under Labour, after almost 13 years in power.

David Cameron
0922 The cabinet is meeting. Mr Brown is expected to go to Buckingham Palace at about 1000 BST, returning an hour or so later to Downing Street to make a statement. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will launch their campaigns during the morning. Leaders David Cameron and Nick Clegg have been out and about already - jogging, walking, smiling etc

Gordon Brown
0920 The day has finally arrived. Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the general election campaign. Prime Minister Gordon Brown is expected to announce later this morning that polling will take place on Thursday 6 May - Westminster's worst-kept secret. First of all, he has to see the Queen, to ask for a dissolution of Parliament. After the phoney war of the last few weeks, all the bickering and nit-picking, full-blown campaigning can now get under way. Here's to an exciting month!

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