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Let the battle begin


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Let the battle begin

by Isabel Field

ELECTION 'O5: SWINDON'S election candidates start four weeks of campaigning today after polling day was confirmed as May 5.


Prime Minister Tony Blair visited the Queen yesterday morning to ask her to dissolve Parliament then announced the date of the election outside Downing Street.


In Swindon, candidates were delighted with the announcement and are now looking forward to the busy times ahead.


Although the final date for nominations for candidates is not until April 19 five candidates have already announced they will stand in each of the Swindon seats.


Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and the UK Independence Party will all contest South and North Swindon while the Green Party will stand in South Swindon and Socialist Unity in North Swindon.


Anne Snelgrove, Labour candidate for South Swindon, said: "I am relieved that he has fired the starting pistol.


"We are ready to go. I think it is going to be a close race in South Swindon and we can't take any vote for granted.


"All Labour voters have got to come out and vote, we can't take the election as won."


Justin Tomlinson, Conservative candidate for North Swindon, said he was very excited by the announcement.


"I am looking forward to a very hard four weeks of campaigning and there is a real opportunity for a Conservative gain in North Swindon.


"Locally we will be fighting a very positive campaign focussing on the difference a Conservative government would make to Swindon." South Swindon's Liberal Democrat candidate Sue Stebbing said: "It is absolutely fantastic, very exciting.


"The Liberal Democrats are the real alternative and now the election has finally been called we will set out to demonstrate our policies which are based on our fundamental principles of freedom, fairness and trust."


Stephen Halden, UKIP candidate for South Swindon, said: "It is an excellent opportunity to bring the issue of Europe to the attention of the voters and to highlight that the EU is gradually turning into a European super state of 25 countries."


Andy Newman, who will stand for Socialist Unity in North Swindon, said: "Bring it on. We are all ready. "We are concentrating our campaigning on the working class areas of Swindon where the Labour Party is not to be seen any more."


Bill Hughes, Green candidate in South Swindon, said the announcement was overdue.


"It is a relief they have called it," he said. "But I think the electorate should know where they are with elections.


"All this hanging on until he goes to see the Queen is ridiculous. We should have fixed terms."


Voters in Swindon had mixed views on the election campaign.


Jenny Thomas, 46, an admin officer from West Swindon, said: "I will be following the campaign but do you believe them?


"They all seem to have their own agenda. But it ought to be quite close."


Muriel Giles, 56, from Greenmeadow, will be studying the parties' policies.


"I will probably download the manifestos and compare the three," she said.