The campaigning is over, the politicians have stated their cases and now, after more than three weeks of party politics, Britain prepares to vote for its next government.
The campaigning is over, the politicians have stated their cases and now, after more than three weeks of party politics, Britain prepares to vote for its next government. Polling day is Thursday, October 10.
It is the second general election in the country this year. In an indecisive poll in February, the nation changed governments and Mr Harold wilson's Labour Party assumed power with a minority of seats in parliament, and Mr Edward Heath's Conservatives went into opposition.
Now, after just over seven months, Mr Wilson seeks a majority mandate from the people with the central issue at stake being the future of Britain's economy.
His formula for dealing with the problem is a so-called 'social contract' with the trade unions to limit wage demands, coupled with some control of prices. Other plans in his platform include a re-negotiation of Britain's membership of the Common Market and plans for State take-overs of key industries.
Opposing him, Mr Heath's conservatives claim that under Mr Wilson, Britain would be poor, socialist and isolated. They see the solution to economic troubles as an injection of confidence into business, less government interference and a broadening of Britain's role in the EEC. They have offered to form a government of national unity, embracing men of all persuasions.
For Mr Heath, the election is also personally crucial, for if his party loses the question of his leadership is likely to be raised.
The Liberal Party under Mr Jeremy Thorpe, which claims to sense a revival of its fortunes, has appealed to the electorate to break the two-party system. Mr Thorpe - along among party leaders - has said that if he comes to power, he will introduce statuary control of both wages and prices as a first move to combat inflation.
The other big force in the election are the Scottish Nationalists, who want a high degree of autonomy for Scotland. Last-minute opinion poll figures show they could get heavy backing there.
Based on opinion poll figures, Labour should win when the final voting figures are counted. Most polls show them to be at least ten percent ahead.
But the polls were wrong last time and everything depends on the voting turn-out on Thursday (10 October). The electorate will be choosing 635 Members of Parliament from among 2,193 candidates.
SYNOPSIS: With only hours to go, workmen have been busy preparing polling stations for the big day. When they open at 0700 hours on polling day, Britain's 36 million eligible voters will decide between Mr harold Wilson's Labour Party, Mr Edward Heath's Conservatives and Mr Jeremy Thorpe's Liberals, all of whom have stressed inflation and the economic situation as the main issue at stake.
Mr Heath has claimed throughout the election campaign that Britain needs a government of national unity and has offered a voice to all parties in its formation. But for Mr Heath, the election is also personally crucial. If the Conservatives lose again, his leadership will come under attack.
For Prime Minister Wilson, the campaign has been a success story all the way. Last-minute opinion polls give him and his party a commanding lead throughout the country. If they are accurate in their forecasts, he will stay in office with the majority mandate he is seeking. Within the next twenty-four-hours, he will probably know whether the polls were right.