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Last Updated: Monday, 11 April, 2005, 17:20 GMT 18:20 UK
What are the key issues for the election?
Policemen outside 10 Downing Street
Tony Blair has announced that the general election will be on 5 May, ending months of speculation.

Speaking after asking the Queen to dissolve Parliament next week, Mr Blair said he and his colleagues would be talking to British people about Labour's "driving mission" for a third term in office.

Michael Howard accused Mr Blair's government of "losing the plot" while Charles Kennedy said he would shun his rivals' "negative campaigning".

Government business managers will be trying to identify which key pieces of legislation to try and push through before the dissolution of parliament on Monday.

Are you looking forward to the election? What are the key issues that will decide your vote? Which pieces of legislation should be pushed through parliament?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

The Council Tax. Councils must be reigned in
Lionel Chandler, Peterborough, UK
The Council Tax. Councils must be reigned in, legislation as to what they may spend money on must be made sooner or later.
Lionel Chandler, Peterborough, UK

It's the Iraq war. What was Blair thinking? He must have no backbone to have let the US convince him to go.
Mike Johnson, Toronto, Canada

Who ever wins the next election, is it too much to ask that the next Prime Minister should have the trust and respect of the country? I am not sure about Howard or Kennedy at this time, but either has got to be better than Blair who has simply no integrity.
Dave, Mold, Wales

I will never believe that the Conservatives will invest in public services given their past record. You cannot cut taxes and maintain the NHS. If you want good services you have to pay for them.
Dave M, Burton

The election in Northumberland will have nothing to do with national policies but everything to do with the reorganisation of schools in Northumberland. It is this issue where the election candidates will be judged. There needs to be more coverage of the core issues that interest the public and not the issues that interest the politicians.
Ed Brown, Hexham, Northumberland

As a life long Labour voter and a person who believes that we have a civic duty to vote, I am confused. I want to vote Labour, but I am simply disgusted with Tony Blair. I would now vote for a party who would bring us out of this war and who would not try to erode civil rights under the guise of fighting supposed terrorism. Is there any hope of this?
Vicky, Grimsby

I'm fed up of seeing students and their parents get a bad deal with student debt
Susan, Milton Keynes
I'm fed up of seeing students and their parents get a bad deal with student debt - I'm voting Lib Dem because of their policy for students.
Susan, Milton Keynes

I am a pensioner and have been a Labour voter all my life but this time I will vote Conservative, the main reason is Blair. In my book a most untrustworthy man and not fit to be Prime Minister of this country.
John Simner, Stourbridge

How about more single friendly policies? Every paper seems to have family friendly issues, and politicians ignore the fact that a large proportion of people in this country are single.
Marion Ryan, London

I'd vote Green, if they would only stand round here. None of the other parties care about the environment, even though it is the most important issue on earth.
Bob Harvey, Lincs, UK

Taxes are too high at the moment. Blair seems more interested in other country's problems than our own, so I'm choosing Lib Dems. Wouldn't pick the Tories as they come across as being arrogant. Too much infighting as well.
Chris, Edinburgh

I've become increasingly annoyed by the political parties' election campaigns. The only tactic that appears to be used is the criticism of their political opponents' plans for the future without offering an alternative of their own. Can no one run a positive, policy driven campaign?
Gareth Stinton, Welwyn Garden City, UK

The plight of pensioners is getting desperate
Jill, London
The plight of pensioners is getting desperate. The parties won't say they can't afford to pay a decent pension. What are they going to do? We cannot just save for our retirement. My parents did that, and found their life savings provided next to nothing because of inflation. May I remind all the parties that pensioners have a large vote.
Jill, London

Low stable mortgage rates and inflation coupled with jobs for those who really want them means there is only one way I'll be voting.
Nick Pendlebury, Bolton, UK

I have not heard one mention by any party or one member of the public of global warming or the environment. What are the party's policies on this most urgent subject? Surely it is the one problem that could mean life or death for us, our children and grandchildren, not to mention our planet as we know it. Is everyone in denial?
Jillian Edwards, Kettering

I want to see the anti social behaviour situation sorted out once and for all. Groups of youngsters should not be allowed to terrorise people and get away with it. The phrase "get away with murder" is not far from the truth. What has changed?
Jo, Basingstoke

Discipline is the issue in education and until it is restored no amount of extra money will enable progress
T Coltman, Darlington
Discipline is the issue in education and until it is restored no amount of extra money will enable progress. I don't think Labour understand how critical this is to the future of our society.
T Coltman, Darlington

I think Labour have done a pretty good job. I do not trust Michael Howard with our public services such as long term residential care, which I think will be tendered out to the highest bidder.
Steven Brooks, Mexborough

It is time for a change; I'm tired of crime, higher house prices, run down council estates, higher taxes and the unfulfilled promises of Labour. I think we will have the UK version of the Bush/Gore situation and the Tories will be back in power. Yes the economy is doing well, but why are we all in debt and not able to buy our own houses?
Andrew, London

The key issues are: security, health, education, the economy and immigration.
John Babtunde, London

Europe seems to be the subject which dare not speak its name in this election. We know the Lib Dems are unelectable because of their European policy but the other two main party's policies are not clear.
G Tysome, Derbyshire

Most people that I chat to appear to want human rights to be looked at, because at present it is too much in the criminal's favour and not for the law abiding. The party that does something about it is the one I will vote for.
Diana Walton, Stockport

It's time one pf the parties became radical and changed the electoral system as it's not working now
Jack, Essex
I'm actually cross with both Labour and Tories - I think we should have a preferential system of voting - and on Saturdays! That way we can all vote for minor parties to show what issues really matter (be it Green through to BNP) before we make our real vote. And why not have compulsory voting like in some countries? Overall it's time one pf the parties became radical and changed the electoral system as it's not working now!
Jack, Essex

I shall vote for the party which puts the most vulnerable in our society first i.e. children (before and after their birth), disabled, sick, poor and elderly. The current government puts them all at the bottom of the pile. Last month's rise in my blind husband's benefits by 60 pence is an insult.
Catherine Davies, Minehead, England

Invading Iraq, whatever the end result, was a gross violation of the international order. The British people cannot be seen to condone this by re-electing the Blair government.
Peter, Germany

I hope voters will look at the bigger picture rather than focusing purely on the war in Iraq. I didn't agree with the war, but taking into account Labour's policies and the progress they have made in the last eight years, I believe that they are the best choice for this country.
MJ, Oxford

I was very disturbed by the amount of time this Labour government wasted on fox hunting. They should leave the countryside alone and address the kind of urban blight I see daily on the streets of East London.
Stephen Edwards, Bow, London

I am astonished by the number of people who seem to be considering the Lib Dems as an alternative to the two major parties. Wake up Britain you have a choice to make. Only Labour or Conservatives can form the government after 5 May. Don't waste your vote on anyone else!
Robert Jones, Bristol, UK

Issues like crime, asylum, and security are so over-hyped by the media
John, England
My big three issues are the environment, the economy, and fair taxation. Issues like crime, asylum, and security are so over-hyped by the media that the fear of these issues is many times worse than the reality.
John, England

I shall be voting for whichever party trusts me as an individual to live my life as independently of other people as possible. I am not interested in things that have been appropriated from the efforts of others. It is more satisfying to achieve things for your self than to be given them.
Nick, Stroud

Restoring confidence in pensions by providing compensation for those who have lost their company pensions due to scheme windups and employer insolvency.
David Skinner, Hull, England

As a nurse, it is frustrating to see that the people who complain about long waits in casualty etc are the same people who will vote for the party who promises the biggest tax cuts. We are all responsible for poor health services, not some faceless NHS manager and I wish political parties would come clean and admit that.
Gareth Phillips, LLangoed ,Wales

Having read the comments that have been selected so far I note that not one mentions 'Ending World Poverty'. Petty squabbles between the three main parties as to which is the best to run the economy in the UK are meaningless in a world economy and it is the way we treat other people throughout the world that has the biggest bearing on the UK economy.
Mick, Leeds

I won't be voting. Each of the major parties is as bad as the others, without a shred of believability amongst them.
Tim, UK

How fortunate that Rover collapsed in an election month!
Alan, Chichester
We have heard all the spin about Blair trying to save 6000 Rover jobs - how fortunate that Rover collapsed in an election month! What about the thousands of UK jobs that have been lost to India over the course of the last seven years? These jobs have been taken away from current UK workers and from future generations of UK workers by companies who make billions in profit from the UK market. This is a disgrace. What are the politicians doing to redress this situation?
Alan, Chichester

Crime is the biggest issue of the election. We need a country where you once again can feel safe on the streets and in your own home. A Tory Britain.
Jack Stone, Southend

I will vote for the party with most to offer on animal welfare. Animal welfare is a litmus test of all that is wrong in our society. It makes people feel good to pamper their pets, yet remain oblivious to animals in factory farms and vivisection, in the name of cheaper food and medicines.
Ian Rubery, Ashbourne, Derbys

My main concern is immigration. All we hear is how put upon the minority cases are, but no one will deal with the influx in this country
Tony Walsh, Swansea

I will be voting Tory as their skills set the economy up for growth. The main issue for me is tax. I pay in a fortune and seem to get nothing in return. If whoever wins increases the amount of tax I pay then I will leave the country. It is just getting ridiculous now.
James Snowsill, Woodford, UK

Nobody seems to be addressing the huge imbalance of Scottish MPs in Westminster. As the Scots now have their own parliament, why do they need so many MPs? All they do is interfere in the affairs of England and Wales.
John, London, UK

For me it is civil liberties or rather the way they are being eroded
Colin Simpson, Workington, Cumbria
For me it is civil liberties or rather the way they are being eroded. Before voting I would advise everybody to familiarise themselves with the main points of the civil contingencies, anti-terror and ID card legislation. The latter in particular is destined to intrude on most aspects of everyday life.
Colin Simpson, Workington, Cumbria

If MG Rover goes under I will vote against Labour. Their spin over the last week and the premature announcement that MG Rover were going into administration has in my view led to this tragic situation. I would vote for a party who wants to save this, our last remaining British car manufacturer, and the 26,000 jobs associated with it.
Nicola Sturdy, Ruislip

I would like to see more help for single people on low - middle incomes. We seem to miss out all the time on any benefits, yet our basic household running costs (obviously excluding food) in many cases are nearly the same as couples and families.
Paul Cooper, Wakefield, West Yorkshire

The issues have to be the NHS and tax, the biggest influence has to be Iraq.
Simon Norman, Swindon

Education - I teach in an inner city school. Discipline isn't too bad but we don't have enough qualified teachers in my science department! Health - I have now been waiting 12 months for an operation on my shoulder with another four months to go!
Spencer Organ, Solihull, UK

Whoever you vote for, just make sure of one thing, you don't vote Labour. This current administration has achieved the same levels of sleaze, untrustworthiness and arrogance it took the Tories three terms to reach. Get them out now before they do any more damage.
Bob, Lerwick, Shetland

As a foreigner who has brought all my savings in this country, spent it on education, been paying taxes by legally working, and didn't spend a penny of public money, don't really expect to be put in the same bag with all "immigration". It is a time to ask what immigrants have to offer to this country.
Robert, London

No withdrawal from the European Human Rights Act! Human rights are about fair play in life. Fair play, by definition, can never be wrong.
Jenny Day, Saltash UK

A good hard-working Labour MP losing his seat and a message being sent to Mr Blair
Kenneth McFarlane, Edinburgh
My sitting MP, who is Labour, is a very good and caring politician. He helped me out with a particular problem and I was impressed with his manner and efficiency. Will I vote for him? No. I don't know if we were lied to over Iraq. But the PM lost my trust. For me, the issue is to vote in a way which regretfully, will result in a good hard-working Labour MP losing his seat and a message being sent to Mr Blair. And no amount of campaigning will change my mind.
Kenneth McFarlane, Edinburgh, Scotland

Why is transport so low on all of the parties' priorities? We need better public transport and better roads. Immigration? Why is that a big issue? How many people do you know who are affected by it?
Joe, Bournemouth Dorset

The biggest issue for me is those who do not work. I will vote for any party who promises to stop paying benefits to the work-shy. Why should I pay taxes to support people who do nothing?
Laura Taylor, Leighton Buzzard, UK

The MP that gets off the fence and speaks with sincerity and honesty will get my vote regardless of his party
Lynn, Herts, UK
I am fed up of spin after spin. As a member of the public the MP that gets off the fence and speaks with sincerity and honesty will get my vote regardless of his party.
Lynn, Herts, UK

Tony Blair said not long ago that climate change was one of the biggest issues facing the planet. He was right, though none of the major parties, including Labour have made it an election issue. Why is this? Is it because none of them have anything to offer by way of a solution to climate change?
Scott McAusland, London, United Kingdom

I will vote for whoever seems the most likely to work Great Britain out of the EU to get our country back and control immigration. I want to be able to vote for the people who run my country, NOT some self-serving, faceless bureaucrats in another country.
Simon Thould, Poole, Dorset

I believe older people who worked all their life should enjoy their life, not suffering from rises in taxes and other thing which they've paid all through their working life.
Paul Roberts, Exmouth

Since hearing about Labour's plans to charge Capital Gains Tax on the sale of a main property, it would appear that I am in a large club of voters who will certainly be changing their vote this time around. Workmates, neighbours, family and friends all agree that this is daylight robbery. At least Dick Turpin wore a mask.
Alan Weekes, Burnley, Lancashire

The biggest single issue for me is trust
Terry, Epsom, England
The biggest single issue for me is trust. All the rest doesn't really matter if you don't trust the party leadership, it could all be untrue. I'm afraid the WMD fiasco did it for me, sorry Tony.
Terry, Epsom, England

For me the legalisation of cannabis is the key issue. Everyday people are persecuted by the law for using cannabis, even though many of them are old or sick people who need this highly beneficial medicinal plant. I am fed up of cannabis users being a soft target for the police to go after when they should be tackling real crimes, ones with victims. The only party that considers this to be its key issue and not way down its list of policies is the Legalise Cannabis Alliance, so I will vote for them because a single issue party getting a good number of votes will push the issue into mainstream politics.
Lee, Wales

I like Tony Blair because he has honoured the UK alliances with the USA and Australia in the War on Terror
JohnWildman, Washington, D.C.

A little thing called democracy! It's about time that Parliament was elected with not fewer but more representative members by use of proportional representation. Lords reform must be picked up again and we need to move on from our piecemeal devolution to give more say to the regions of England.
Alex Ingram, Edinburgh

I'm voting for the Green Party, the only party where the environment is recognised as the precondition for all other policies. And besides, none of the other parties seem to have a clue as to how to produce a coherent approach to addressing climate change.
Stephen Watson, Brighton, UK

The key issue for me is to do with the Constitution
Gareth Wyn Williams, Bangor, Wales
The key issue for me is to do with the Constitution, and extending the Welsh Assembly's powers much further. At the moment there is a clear imbalance in the devolution process. Wales needs a Parliament of its own.
Gareth Wyn Williams, Bangor, Wales

As someone who's been looking forward to voting in a general election for the first time I'm disappointed there isn't a candidate I positively support. As it is I'll be voting Lib Dem, mainly to reduce Labour's majority. If the Lib Dems were the Opposition this country would have a chance. The Tories are a disgrace.
Sarah, Oxford

I think outsourcing and off shoring should be an issue. Also people should vote, doesn't matter if you can't decide. Spoil your ballot but cast your vote all the same.
Francis Reid, Aberdeen

The key issue for me will be civil liberties and authoritarianism.
Paul J. Burrows, Nottingham, England

For me its got to be tax, tax and tax. I, like many others, am just fed up with paying and paying for a bigger and bigger state with no clear benefit. I can't get a dentist, a doctor's appointment etc but I can pay more in tax. Vote Conservative, I say.
Dave, London

Due to the completely unfair voting system everything will be decided in the 80 or so marginal seats. If there is a low turnout, it is purely down to a loss of trust in politicians and feeling of powerlessness. Proportional representation would make a huge benefit.
Clive Hopper, Brighton

What happened to Europe? The Lib Dems have now had two conferences without making any major reference to it. Why?
Carol Greenhalgh, Bolton, Lancs

It would be nice to hear from the main parties on their policies for a clear and unified transport strategy including linked bus and rail, future road development and restricting growth of motor car numbers. These are real issues that affect everyone every day. But I don't suppose that politicians will be anxious to state the obvious facts. We must pay more for investment in public transport and use our cars less.
Keith Falconer, Worcester, UK

"It's the Economy Stupid!" pretty much sums it up
Mark, London
"It's the Economy Stupid!" pretty much sums it up. The only reason any of the other issues can even be registered or thought about is that the economy is doing OK and unemployment is low. The NHS is working, my family have used it and we could whinge and whine, but it does get the job done. My Children have new books at school, when I was at school in the 80's my books were more than 10 years old. Everyone with a mortgage is better off under Labour as interest rates are half what they were under the Tories; regardless of extra taxes most people are better off.
Mark, London, UK

I wish we would stop dragging our feet and join Europe properly, and stop being US lap dogs. The environmental issues are the most important because without a sustainable natural environment nothing else matters.
Alison, West Midlands

Nobody seems to be talking about the north-south divide which continues to grow irrespective of the colour of the government of the day. A trip down the M6 shocks me - the difference in wealth appears ever greater. Manchester is a wonderful and vibrant city which has managed to escape the worst of it - many other towns in the north just seem to be dying - but even here in Manchester we have levels of poverty I have yet to come across in the south. What talent we have here in Greater Manchester, though we're not given sufficient resources from Westminster to make best use of it. Will any of the parties address this? Probably not as they're all based in London.
Barry Madshaw, Manchester, UK

For me the biggest issue is the decline in standards of behaviour and education in this country
Ian Young, High Wycombe
For me the biggest issue is the decline in standards of behaviour and education in this country. We need to get back to having some respect for each other and society.
Ian Young, High Wycombe

I have as yet heard no party mention what they intend to do for those who cannot work. Benefits are now woefully inadequate. The cost of eye tests, prescriptions and dentistry are all issues for those on some benefits as they still have to pay for them.
Tony Dean, Cornwall

The key issue for me is public spending. I want spending on health and schools to increase not decrease, as savings on bureaucracy never actually happen.
Gareth Davies, United Kingdom

I find it hard to believe that the environment is barely even being mentioned as one of the key issues in this election
Rona, Fife, Scotland
I find it hard to believe that the environment is barely even being mentioned as one of the key issues in this election. Surely that has to be the number one priority for any government.
Rona, Fife, Scotland

The key issues that should be focussed during this election are EU relations, immigration, and security.
Mary Wong, Calgary, Canada

As a 25 year old female, not married, and with no children, it seems to me a key issue should be the fact that although my boyfriend and I work hard, pay our bills and are struggling to pay a huge mortgage we would be better off both going on the dole, having children and living on benefits. This is clearly not right. I want the issue of benefits to be tackled effectively and the next government to reward those who contribute to the economy not reward those who take from it.
Kate, Cornwall, UK

For me the biggest single issue will be trust. Blair is unfit to be prime minister. As Gordon Brown said "how can we believe a word he says". To me the Tories are the only option.
Carl, Cambridge, UK

Most important: the economy, care of children and the elderly. Only Labour can do this. The Tories cannot be trusted with our NHS.
Malcolm Neeves, St Leonards on Sea, UK

Labour might have given us economic strength but my council tax has gone up by 38% above inflation over the last 6 years. The government should have capped my local council tax years ago rather than just before the election.
Tom Johnson, Slough, UK

I admire Labour's economic success but deplore the stealth taxes and spin
Liz Matthews, Bath, UK
I admire Labour's economic success but deplore the stealth taxes and spin. The NHS is a horrific mess, the Iraq war a terrible and unnecessary waste of so many lives and Labour jumping on Jamie Oliver's brilliant school meals bandwagon just pathetic. Michael Howard, I'm thinking what you're thinking.
Liz Matthews, Bath, UK

The war on Iraq has to be the big issue. Everybody knows you cannot trust the Tories. The war showed you cannot trust Labour either. The Lib Dems were the loudest voice against the war and they turned out to be right. Charles Kennedy and the Lib Dems are the only viable option in this election!
Milan Kopriva, Belfast, Northern Ireland

For me there are only two issues: honesty and obeying the will of the people. Blair fulfils neither, and the Tories ceased to be a voting option for me with Thatcher. Otherwise the field is wide open.
Michael, Lampedusa, Italy

From a selfish point of view the key issues are: what has improved in my life since the last election? As a teacher I saw vastly improved resources, more staff and raised standards in my school; I saw brilliant treatment for my elderly mother in my 2 local, clean hospitals, together with her pension credit and help with council tax; I saw excellent local health care for my disabled husband; I saw my children all get good jobs and prosper; I saw more police on my local high street and more proactive policing; I saw too little taxing of the mega rich, and a war I didn't agree with. But on balance I think Labour are getting it right and I'm looking forward to their re-election. I wouldn't care to go back to the bad old Tory days when I and my family were much worse off.
Chris, Surrey, UK

Would people in Scotland realise that most of the election "issues" that are being debated are nothing to do with the Westminster Parliament. Health, Education, Law & Order etc are devolved powers.
Scott Lyons, Aberdeen, Scotland

What about equal rights for single people who don't have families?
Tess, Redditch
I see that as usual, families and equal rights are two of the most important issues in the election. But what about equal rights for single people who don't have families, and don't want to? Someone is always complaining about Britain being too crowded, so how about some encouragement for those of us who have chosen not to add to the population?
Tess, Redditch

How can the Lib Dems say they're big on the environment when Charles Kennedy is flying around in a plane, spilling out a thousand tonnes of fossil fuel gas emissions contributing to climate change... its the Greens for me and everyone else who is serious on the environment.
Luke Walter, West Sussex, England

It would be nice to think that this would be a 'blame free' election, but I doubt it. Tories will blame Labour, Labour will blame Tories. Immigrants and gypsies and the tiny percentage of the young who represent 'yob' culture, will be blamed - scapegoats are always popular, especially in election season. Any politician prepared to take responsibility for the mess WE are making of the planet, of society, of the way humans treat each other, would get my vote. But I don't feel as though my vote would count for anything, and when you actually look at the statistics, the majority seem to feel that way when barely 45% of the country will voting at all. Shouldn't that be the issue that matters?
Girlie Wilkin, Colchester, Essex

Crime amongst the young, benefits system renewal, immigration, and the NHS. These are all sore points to me at the moment.
Denise, South Ockendon, Thurrock, Essex

Soft touch, politically correct Britain needs to be sorted out
Matthew, London
Soft touch, politically correct Britain needs to be sorted out. People are taking advantage and we seem afraid to stop them. Secondly, National Insurance - I pay for private medical insurance and I can't get a NHS dentist so what are my contributions doing for me?
Matthew, London

Not only have pensions slipped away from focus but where do the parties stand on the European single currency and the crisis in the Middle East?
Rob, Surrey

I would like to see the parties focus on what is good for the long term prosperity of the country instead of short sighted soundbites. This means focusing on industry and transport. Everything else (health, education etc) depends on the country being productive.
Peter, Oxford

I wouldn't dream of voting for a party whose record includes making the very rich even richer, and the very poor even poorer. No I don't mean the Tories, I mean Labour!
Pete, Peterborough UK

Any party that makes the decision to enter an unjust and illegal war, ignoring the opinions of the majority of the country, automatically loses my vote. War on terror or a witch hunt?
Louise, London

Bring back the Tories and get the nation working again.
Rohit, Brussels, Belgium

If it's good for people, not big business but all people, then it will get my vote
Jennifer Hynes, Plymouth, UK
If it's good for people, not big business but all people, then it will get my vote. So far only the Lib Dems seem to have produced anything of note in this area, out of the main three parties. But there are many more parties, and indeed candidates, that offer so much more than Blair or Howard, or even Kennedy. Be fair on yourselves and look at ALL the options with a critical eye before deciding, don't just follow a headline.
Jennifer Hynes, Plymouth, UK

Taxation is a big issue, or at least should be. Labour have rightly produced policies to provide extra money for families but have forgotten that there are more single or married people without children than ever before; these people take the brunt of the tax system and get the least back. At the same time these people have the highest housing cost and least access to council and housing association accommodation. Why do ever increasing numbers of under 35s still live at home. Low pay, high tax and high house prices.
Stephen Davis, Southampton

The phrase I hate the most is "under the last Tory government" from the Labour party. If eight years isn't enough time for them to sort out the country and achieve their goals, why should I believe that four more will make a difference?
Tim Woodman, Rode, England

There should be legislation to ensure that all elected MPs will have basic common sense.
Ray Keane, East Sussex

The key issue is our country's future. Under the last Conservative administration, the "sick man of Europe" was turned around. When the Tories came into power, our performance was languishing (32nd in World Economic Forum competitiveness rankings) When they left power, the UK was up to 4th place in the WEF competitiveness rankings. Under Gordon Brown, we are slipping back. The 2004 rankings show that we have fallen to 11th place, and the trend is downwards. One more Labour government, and we would again be the sick man of Europe.
BF, London, UK

Integrity and honesty are attributes often laid aside in the struggle to remain on top
Warren Mills, Hayle, UK
With confidence in not only the PM but MPs as a whole at its lowest in decades, now is the time for those due to be elected this coming May to remember they are in a position of power because we deemed them fit to hold office on our behalf. Integrity and honesty are attributes often laid aside in the struggle to remain on top. MPs should be reminded they are duty bound to provide honest and direct answers to direct questioning and not to be so evasive as is often the case. Whichever party finds itself in power we the public will always find ourselves with the unfortunate fact that once again a promise to elect is a promise to forget.
Warren Mills, Hayle, UK

One issue on the health front which everyone seems to be ignoring is dentistry on the NHS. This seems to be virtually non-existent now, and it appears as if all parties have given up on this. Or have I missed something?
Keith, London

Building a moral society, where the importance of people, life and the planet are put before money and profit would be a start.
Paul, Wales

Have some fun this time around. Everyone vote for independents (or small local party) then sit back and enjoy seeing lots of disparate people try to form a government
Richard, UK

Please can we fast forward to May 7th when the election is all over and normal life can return in the news?
Chris Davies, Durham, Co. Durham

I believe voting should be compulsory and I shall go to vote. However, it's about time they put an extra box on the ballot form - "none of the above".
Susan, Hampshire

Housing is a major issue for myself
Darren, Manchester
Housing is a major issue for myself. The fact that prices have risen in some areas by up to 300% has made owning a house an impossibility for a lot of people. The rich/poor divide has grown substantially under this government.
Darren, Manchester

A fairer voting system. In this election, it looks likely that the Tories will win the most votes, yet will lose the election. The seat boundaries decide the election. Not the voters.
Ken Hall, UK

My concerns are the environment, taxes and house prices (I have a well paid job, but still no chance of getting on to the property ladder). My car is essential to my work and lifestyle. I live in the countryside where public transport is just simply not an option. I will be voting for the party that leaves motorists alone, but at the same time encourages the development of cleaner fuels and energy. If hydrogen (or alternative) powered cars were commercially available I'd be driving one tomorrow.
Ross, UK

I went to uni, have an average paid job in local government, I am 27 and still live with my parents. Where is the party who will make affordable housing for someone like me? I'll vote for them! Help! I'll be living with my parents forever (bless 'em!)
Hayley, Essex

I have always been strictly Labour but I am leaning towards Conservative now
Hayley, Essex
I voted Labour at the last general election because I was a uni student, since then they have introduced fees, I feel ashamed I helped them to get into power, now only the rich can go to uni, unless you want a huge debt at the end of study (it was better under the Conservatives). I have no idea who to vote for now. I have always been strictly Labour but I am leaning towards Conservative now, I never thought I'd say that! But they can't do any worse than Labour has! I now work for local government and our pensions are in danger, come on Mr Blair where is the real Labour, as was under Neil Kinnock?
Hayley, Essex

I abhor the Tory campaign targeting asylum seekers and minority groups (like gypsies). It plays to people's fears and is very negative.
Adrian, London

Lower taxation, reform of public services, crime, pensions, immigration, crime and a referendum on 8 years of Labour mis-government
Mike, Brighton, UK

It is irrational to vote. Since an election of this size would never be decided by one individual vote, one's vote does not make a difference. None of the candidate's inspire trust or aspire to policies needed to save this country and its people.
Alex, Chatham, UK

Support for marriages is the issue that dare not speak its name. The evidence shows that family breakdown is a major factor in crime, drug and alcohol abuse, educational under-achievement, and emotional and physical illness. Yet all the main parties want to do is throw money at childcare so that mums can put in more hours at the call centre or supermarket checkout. This is desperately inadequate, and totally blind to the crisis in family life and community which is causing misery everywhere.
David Keen, Darlington, Co Durham

While Labour have blotched their copybooks over Iraq, the Conservatives have not convinced me that they are a viable alternative. The Liberal Democrats are still trying to establish themselves as a viable alternative but a lot of people still consider a vote for Lib Dems is a wasted vote. The key issues for me are: the economy, law & order, health and education. It is also important for the new government to establish a greater presence in Europe, because like it or not, the future of country will depend on our relations with Europe rather than the United States.
Etienne Hoffland, Chafford Hundred, Essex

We need a party that does not rely on distortion and spin
Julian Walters, London
The key issue is trust in politics - we need a party that does not rely on distortion and spin, but can begin to restore faith in the political process.
Julian Walters, London

In an age of globalisation, it is imperative that we have a competitive economy. We need less bureaucracy, waste and less state spending on everything except education and health, which are necessary in ensuring we have a skilled and productive workforce. Therefore, the party that will get my vote are the Tories, because they are promising to reduce regulations, waste and taxes but increase spending as well as reforming education and healthcare.
Alexander Hamilton, Durham City, County Durham

I would like to see the introduction of an itemised tax bill. Everywhere else that I spend money I get a detailed breakdown of the cost, why not the government. Surely this would enable an accurate comparison between the parties.
Steven Deighton, Poole, Dorset

I'm worried by all the talk by the Conservatives of ignoring the Humans Rights Act to stop asylum seekers and travellers. Can we trust any government which says it will rip up the Human Rights Act to pursue its goals?
Jon, Melksham, UK

If only Gordon Brown was Prime Minister and Kenneth Clarke was the leader of the Conservative Party I would at least have a choice as to who to vote for. I just simply can not vote for Blair, Howard or Kennedy. Blair can no longer be trusted (i.e. Iraq War, education, immigration, etc), Howard is an opportunist and poor old Charles Kennedy does not even come into the equation. I think it's time for change. Time to change the leaders of our political parties.
Vinit Sharma, London, England

I am disabled and trying to get re-housed at present - I am privately renting and now on a low income. It seems that single parents and homeless are getting a better deal. I have all the points I require by the council but there are not enough properties available with disabled facilities. Those that are available appear to go to able bodied people.
Peter Kebble, Newbury

Labour's recent form is very good - I would vote for them if Gordon Brown were leader, but not Tony Blair
Jill, London UK

What on earth has happened to the great Euro debate during this election?
David Burgess, UK
What on earth has happened to the great Euro debate during this election? We are told that we will be asked to vote on an issue of utmost national importance during the term of the next government, yet it appears to have temporarily vanished from the agendas of both the politicians as well as the media. Even UKIP seems to have sunk without trace. Is nobody interested in debating this topic, or is it another case of burying bad news?
David Burgess, UK

The Tories are reduced to core support issues, they have nothing to say on housing, economy, health and education. They will lose and deservedly so.
Rob, Northfleet

I think the main parties have pushed environmental issues too far down the agenda. The main issue should be how we change our consumption and energy policies to allow our grandchildren to continue to have an acceptable quality of life. That will require tough choices and inspired leadership.
David Robertson, Larbert, Scotland

We are a young family, so safety, nutrition at school, financial support and buying houses are all key issues for us. I strongly disagree with ID cards though and would like to see more support for languages in school.
Hannah Phillips, Durham, England

I wish the main parties would do more for disabled people financially who can't work. I have cerebral palsy and am confined to a wheelchair and need 24 hour care. I am on benefits but it costs a lot to have a disability.
Paula Monzani, Amersham, Bucks

I would like to see a party who begins to think about England
Chris Bearman, Horsham, England
I would like to see a party who begins to think about England, we already have devolution of one form or another in Scotland and Wales, yet it is these MPs who are forcing through legislation for England when many of the issues do not affect their country. To make matters even worse, this Prime Minister seems to fill almost every government post with Scottish MPs. Alex Salmond says his party will make Scotland matter, when I ask, are we going to make England matter? And ask Scottish MPs to serve in the Scottish Parliament not the English one, maybe then England can decide its own policies such as those on tuition fees and foundation hospitals.
Chris Bearman, Horsham, England

The real answer to cutting immigration is to make people content with where they are. Britain has to take a lead in promoting fairer trade rules to allow poorer countries to protect themselves from the first world's subsidised exports and tariffs on imports.
Paul Ashmore, Loughborough, UK

The NHS has to be the top priority - if money wasted elsewhere on futile departments and committees was put into it, it would be fit for a modern country at last.
Bill, Tunbridge Wells

I will vote Tory because I want something out of the deal. I am a young worker with no children hence I am dumped on every time by the current government. I will not vote Liberal Democrat because my council tax would double overnight. Despite their many problems the Tories offer me the best deal. And don't even mention UKIP/Veritas - they're just more "respectable" versions of another less palatable party.
Scott, Leeds, UK

More bobbies on the beat and better care for the victims of crime
Brian H, Devon
Strict rules on immigration and asylum law and order, more bobbies on the beat and better care for the victims of crime, give longer custodial sentences to the criminals and the death sentence should be re-introduced. Less administrators and managers, more nurses and doctors in the NHS. Drastically reduce the number of civil servants and with the money saved increase pensions for the OAPs
Brian H, Devon

The key issue for me is directing my vote towards getting Labour out of power.

First off, to those of you crying out for a change to the voting system to PR. Get a grip of yourselves PR produces hung Parliaments with the balance of power with the smaller party in government. As for the war in Iraq people have to understand that if we'd been under a Conservative government we'd have still gone to war (the Tories supported the government on this issue). As for this General Election people should concentrate on the core issues, which should be the economy, health, education and for me the party that deals with these issues is clearly the Labour Party. As a teenager I went through 18 years of Tory rule that only served for the rich to get rich and the poor to get poorer, there should be no way back to those days.
Simon Harris, British living in Dublin

None of the major parties address the question of how we are to avoid destroying the planet, and so have nothing to say to my sons. I will vote for any candidate who takes better international cooperation on this matter seriously by adopting the Simultaneous Policy.
David Smith, Weymouth, England

For me abortion will be an issue. I cannot vote for a party who would allow termination any time after the foetus is viable just because a baby is an inconvenience to someone. If a party does not value human life what kind of human beings are they?
Buzz, Glasgow

The key question is the overwhelming lack of trust in Tony Blair.
Bernie Crean, Plymouth, UK

It's a three party system, Labour, Tory and Lib Dem. Anyone who votes on other parties are wasting their vote, besides it's Lib Dem for me!
David U, Hessle, UK

The key issue for me is the gap between 'rich' and 'poor'
Adam, Midlands
The key issue for me is the gap between 'rich' and 'poor', I voted Labour in the last two elections as I thought their social justice policies would work - what a joke, the gap is getting even bigger. Conservative for me this time round.
Adam, Midlands

Immigration, immigration and immigration. I am terrified Wales will be overrun just like England. Tories for me.
Dave, Wales

I personally agree with Charles Kennedy. It isn't about slagging off the opposition, it's about the future and if Kennedy is the only one who recognises that then maybe we've found our next Prime Minister.
Jennifer Symon, Morecambe, England

We need a positive immigration policy. I am a care worker and our organisation relies on overseas staff to make sure everyone is looked after 24 hrs a day. British people don't want to do the hands-on work despite its great rewards. We need overseas workers in this country.
Jess, Liphook

I don't live in the UK at the moment, but I am British, born and bred - heart and soul. For me there is one group of people who have no voice in this election because they cannot speak from the grave. They are the soldiers who have died in Iraq in an illegal war the present government imposed on us by fraud. If I were in the UK I would give them a voice by voting for the only major party that did not support this war - the Lib Dems.
Rita Kitto, Geneva, Switzerland

Pensions have slipped away from focus
Dave Starling, Tonbridge
What baffles continually are the issues ignored. Pensions have slipped away from focus, for example. Referendums on issues such as monarchical dissolution have again been sent adrift
Dave Starling, Tonbridge

With one third of the population now over 65, it is time they were given greater voice. It is largely their efforts that have brought UK into the 21st century, now they are being ignored by the current government.
Neville, Holsworthy

I am going to be voting for the first time this year. I really want to make my vote count.
Arif Zaman, Luton

I want to see UKIP MPs elected
Margaret, Sherborne, England
I want to see UKIP MPs elected. The three main parties all want to be ruled by Brussels, whereas the majority of the electorate do not. Therefore Westminster does not reflect the views of the majority of the people and is undemocratic.
Margaret, Sherborne, England

I fear people will forget how the Tories ran down public services while presiding over Britain's relative economic decline. Both only reversed under Labour. I only hope anti-Blair sentiment (which I sympathise with) does not blind people to the bigger picture.
Toby Rouse, London

The key election issue is civil liberties: we have already lost the presumption of innocence, right to a fair trial including the right to know what charge to defend yourself against and the right to challenge evidence, the right to freedom of movement and free association, the right to protection against the misuse of power by government. I will not vote for any candidate or party that supports the legislation the new Labour government has imposed on us.
Hilary Chivall, Whittlesey, England

So many people seem to have a gripe about the way the government has run the country, but they forget that we have had a remarkably stable 8 years, and moreover that many neglected services have been invested in. I vote for continued stability and investment in our country's infrastructure.
Andy, Sheffield, UK

Any party that supports ID cards automatically loses my vote, regardless of all other policies/issues.
David Cross, Liverpool, England

The key issues have to be health, education and the economy. With the Conservatives promising cleaner hospitals, better school discipline and lower taxes they have the best policies for me.
Tom Rowley, Corbridge, Northumberland, U.K.

I would go for where they stand on making poverty history
Peter, Brighton
As there is little to choose between the parties on the major issues, I would go for where they stand on making poverty history - relieving third world debt, aid and fair trade issues; as well as issues such as euthanasia and physician assisted suicide; and - as someone who is about to become a pensioner - what plans do they have for fair pensions for all?
Peter, Brighton

I'm concerned about the inequality in society and the environment so I'll be voting Lib Dem for higher taxes and their environmental polices.
Stephen Belfield, Manchester, United Kingdom

It's the BNP for me, the only party speaking up about the real problem of immigration. I was really pleased to see that they're standing here in Basingstoke. They're not afraid to say what you're thinking.
Andy, Basingstoke, Hampshire

Trust is the key issue as you have to be able to trust the Prime Minister and unfortunately Tony Blair has been found sadly lacking in this area, most crucially over Iraq - despite his claim to be a "pretty straight sort of guy". On that basis he has to go.
GA, Bristol, England

Over the course of this first day of campaigning I find myself absolutely astonished by the audacity of the Tories. Tory after Tory has been making an issue of MRSA and rising Council Tax bills. They seem to have forgotten that it was their Government that in the face of all the warnings about standards went ahead with contracting out of cleaning services within the NHS. Perhaps the Tories also forget who it was that introduced the Council Tax. How can anyone believe them?
Ian Hamilton, Falkirk, Scotland

Climate change and social justice are the key issues for me, so I will be voting for the Green Party.
James Lea, United Kingdom

I'll vote for the party that tackles massive tax evasion by the super-rich and big business
Matthew, Exeter, UK
I'll vote for the party that tackles massive tax evasion by the super-rich and big business, and that will also stop scapegoating immigrants, benefits claimants, political correctness, and other easy targets for Daily Mail readers. In other words, I shan't be voting.
Matthew, Exeter, UK

I want to know it the Labour Party will be sorting out the fiasco regarding the Working Families Tax Credit/Children's Tax Credit. Due to unbelievable poor service a mistake made by Inland Revenue back in 2003, I have been fighting with them since June 2004 to resolve the issue. I am in extreme debt because of this error and find my self continually writing to them and phoning, but getting nowhere as my case is always being looked into. I have documented all correspondence and sent a synopsis of events and am still waiting to hear from the Overpayments department. This benefit was introduced by Labour to benefit hardworking and honest people - well let me tell you it was the worse thing I have ever done, applying for it and can assure you that my vote will be going elsewhere.
Julie Hobbs, Amesbury, Wiltshire

Housing, housing, housing!!! I'm in a fairly well paid job and I can't afford to buy a place to live. When will the parties take this issue seriously and deal with this by a)building more social housing, b)making second home ownership and buy to let less financially attractive and c)having sensible immigration controls that take into account the congested nature of our country.
Chas, London

I am a Brit in Pakistan, knowing the fact here how much people love Britons and see them as powerful force to keep peace when I look back I only see one thing as a key issue and that is keeping peace in and outside the country and when I see the UK going for illegitimate war in Iraq and keeping our innocent soldiers in hostile zone for the sake of becoming a lapdog, I feel sorry for even having these elections. But I will still vote but haven't yet decided for who.
Saeeda Arif, Peshawar, Pakistan

A return to the dark days of the 1980s doesn't bear thinking about
Mark Jones, Milton Keynes, UK
The economy, health and education. Only one party can look after these - the one currently in government. A return to the dark days of the 1980s doesn't bear thinking about.
Mark Jones, Milton Keynes, UK

Do politicians who believe in public service exist any more or is the sole reason for entering public life now to slither up the greasy poll and stuff your pockets and those of your chums?
Michael Darby, London

Electoral reform. A hung parliament would be a good start, but until we can get a House of Parliament that is FORCED to actually debate issues, there will be no meaningful change. It's 'Strong Government' that's left us where we are today.
Kieran, Oxford, UK

Luckily my vote counts where I live, but until we get a new system how can others get a voice. They want people to vote yet deny them a choice. Give us PR not PC.
BJ, Paignton, Devon

This election will focus on Iraq, when really there is no issue with the Iraq war. The same outcome would have resulted no matter who was in power. There is no way that a political party leader can say they wouldn't have gone to war, the Conservatives should remember that they have taken this country into far more meaningless conflicts. This election poses 2 questions, do we vote for a better country or do we vote Conservative?
Iain Edwards, Bournemouth

As a young person I'm going to be influenced by deals for first time buyers on the property ladder
Eleanor, Colchester, UK
My vote will rest largely upon the organisation of public services and the economy. In particular as a young person I'm going to be influenced by deals for first time buyers on the property ladder. I'm still smarting from Iraq and I know I'm not alone in that. After a pretty harrowing couple of years for Britain internationally it's time for some positive campaigning and a sense of renewal at home - I think the British public really needs impressing this time.
Eleanor, Colchester, UK

Less bureaucracy in health, education and police. Less managers in health and more 'workers' (not service providers!). Fewer targets in education and more teaching of the basics. Tougher on sentencing (if you get 4 years you do 4 years). Leave the poor drivers alone for a change. Iraq and Bush Poodle Syndrome need addressing properly. The economy needs an overhaul, less handouts and more support for those who have contributed to the economy. Let's have politicians who can do the job instead of just enjoying the power and salaries they give themselves.
Maggie Irvine, Bedford

The economy: despite 12 years economic growth, both house prices and take-home pay, especially of the poorest in society, are in decline - If Labour have squandered the good years thus, what chance do they have when the economy performs less well?
John, Tonbridge, Kent

Labour, Conservative and the Lib Dems are certainly turning this electorate off British Politics. We need to bring the country's fourth largest party, the UK Independence Party onto the scene as they are putting forward the "out of the EU" case. It's a fact that none of the other parties hold the same view as they do. That, of course, includes the Tories, regardless of their pretences about controlling immigration into the UK. Everyone except the Tories is aware that immigration control is now firmly in the hands of the EU and not the UK.
Tom Wyatt, Hartlepool, England

The two most important issues that will decide my vote will be the EU and the war in Iraq
Edward B-H, Kent, UK
The two most important issues that will decide my vote will be the EU and the war in Iraq. The direction in which the UK goes in international matters connects strongly with the domestic front.
Edward B-H, Kent, UK

The key issues have to be the economy and the NHS, Labour have put in more money in real terms than any other party in history, compare the Tories handling of the economy last time in power, record high interest rates, black Wednesday, the poll tax and the common link is Michael Howard, a disaster then and would be disaster now. Regarding the NHS the Tory principles are people should pay, they almost destroyed it last time and now they want to get people to have NHS pay half of costs for going private, if this is not destroying the NHS then what on earth is. Labour on both issues.
Peter, Keighley

The party that promises to deliver the toughest clamp down on Asylum and Immigration will get my vote. Britain is becoming too much of an "Easy Touch" country!
Ellie Inman, Plymouth, UK

Pensions which Labour have done nothing about except tax them. Council Tax which is punishing in a Labour area, and employment which has only reduced due to 500,000 new public sector jobs - doesn't do a lot for the country.
Edward, London

Surely there can be no more important issue facing the human race today than the imminent catastrophe caused by the unsustainable depletion of the planet's resources. And for those that feel that pursuit of profits is more important than the environmental caused in that pursuit, then imagine what the effect on our market driven economies will be once the oil runs out. Good luck to the Greens.
Radsoft, Milton Keynes

The key issue for me will be is Britain better off?
Alan Dobbie, London
The key issue for me will be is Britain better off? Labour has introduced the national minimum wage, ensured paid holidays for all workers and the lowest unemployment, inflation and interest rates for many years. For those reasons, I'm happy to vote Labour on 5th May.
Alan Dobbie, London

We need education. I fear this election will be biased by a party's stance on highly polarised, narrowly scoped issues (fox hunting, Iraq etc). This would be a poor way to choose a government.
Nick Savage, Southsea

"Education, education, education". That was the mantra we were fed in 1997 what did we get - tuition fees, more exams and targets, city academies, turkey twizzlers, more truancy in schools...and PM who doesn't even have the faith to put his own children through the education system that he has "delivered".
Sumeet Vermani, Croydon, UK

Until there is a way to de-elect an MP or party that breaks their pre-election promises, voting based on any manifesto is basing your future on a politician's promise, which is as reliable as building on quicksand.
Martin, England, UK

Each party is so frightened of alienating Middle England that the differences between them are tiny
Jeremy Boden, London
Each party is so frightened of alienating Middle England that the differences between them are tiny. It's good news that they have finally seen the light and "shelved" identity cards.
Jeremy Boden, London

I love elections - the cut and thrust and poring over poll results. Wealth redistribution is the key to me. Labour have quietly been getting on with this for 8 years and I want to see more of it.
Andrew H, London UK

There is one key issue for me, which is sadly absent from this election; the electoral system itself, specifically; proportional representation. As a member of a thoroughly Conservative constituency it is quite clear my vote will not count. I am very interested in politics and will certainly not be amongst a large proportion of young people not bothering to vote. In 2001 Labour get 43% of the Total Vote but 63% of the seats. In many polls the Public are in favour of a change to the FPTP system, yet it still does not become an electoral issue, mainly because the main beneficiary is the party that is currently in power. Why not give everyone in the UK a say, not just ones from areas that are yet to be decided?
Tom, Bromsgrove

Unless there's a party that's going to leave off motorists and not introduce ID cards, I will not be voting. It seems to me that the distance between the parties is so small that it does not matter who gets in, so I've decided to make it my policy not to take a blind bit of notice of any of them.
Tim Hothersall, Accrington, Lancashire

I'll be voting for whoever will give us a health service where I don't get letters for a vital appointment saying we'll send you an appointment towards the end of 2007. I feel public health and wellbeing are the important issues.
Jayne S Allen , Todmorden England

Time for a change, the Labour party is too soft on crime and social wasters. Make the unemployed work for their money cleaning up the community they live in. The tax payer will see the benefit and they will have more self esteem.
James, Plymouth

I think it is time for change
John Hulme, Wigan
I think it is time for change, new ideas from new parties who care about the people in their constituencies.
John Hulme, Wigan

I've used your 'Compare Policies at a Glance' which I find very useful. I allocate 10 points for each policy to be split across the 3 parties based on which policy I prefer. Then I just add them all up and whichever party gets the most is the one I will vote for as the 'overall' better party.
Paul C, Seaton Sluice, Tyne and Wear, UK

What are the key issues that will decide your vote? For me and for countless thousands the campaign should make no difference at all. Events over recent years e.g. Iraq which highlighted the critical issue of trust in the government, have already formed our opinion. I would be surprised if there are very many who are still undecided.
Yusus, UK

Immigration, less pc and tougher on crime.
Mark , Swansea

A key issue in this election campaign should be 'fairness'. ie Why should the Liberal party be led into a general election by a Scotsman when Scotland has devolution? Surely if the Scots have the right to be run by a Scot, then the English should have the right to be run by an Englishman. Good luck to Michael Howard.
Graham Wright, London, UK