UK heads to polls to cast votes in General Election

Polling stations across the UK have opened their doors as millions head to the polls to cast their votes in the most tightly contested General Election in decades.

In addition to voting in Westminster MPs, voters will also be choosing their local councillors. There are around 4,150 candidates standing for election in England’s 649 constituencies.

Conservative leader David Cameron ended a 36-hour campaigning run with an appeal to undecided voters to choose hope.

“In this election, don’t let fear triumph over hope,” he said at his last rally in Bristol. “A Conservative government can get our economy moving again, can tackle our social problems, can make politics accountable.”

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said at a stop in Eastbourne yesterday that nothing would change if the Conservatives won the election.

“Imagine waking up on Friday morning to find David Cameron in No 10,” he said. “Nothing will really change at all.”

Gordon Brown told Labour supporters that only his party could build a “fairer, better, stronger Britain”.

Christian leaders have waged a passionate campaign of their own to encourage Christians to vote in the general election.

The Westminster Declaration asking Christians to vote according to their conscience on human life, marriage and freedom of conscience has clocked up just under 60,000 signatures.

The issue of freedom of conscience will be of particular concern to Christians following a string of high profile dismissals of Christian employees and prosecutions against Christians, most recently a street preacher who was arrested in Workington and charged with “harassment, alarm or distress” after telling a passerby that homosexuality was one of the sins mentioned in the Bible.

The Christian Institute, CARE, and main Churches have all created their own election briefings and guides to help Christians make their choice on the ballot paper.

CARE said the number of churches that signed up on its election website to hold hustings events was the highest it had ever had.

At the weekend, the Bishop of Hereford urged people not to vote according to the personalities of the main party leaders on May 6, but the policies that will benefit the whole nation and planet.

The Bishop of Hereford The Rt Rev Anthony Priddis said that while the televised leaders’ debates had generated more discussion and interest in the election, they had also made the election “more of a celebrity beauty parade and more presidential”.

He said: “Government and what our nation needs is far more than just one person, however important they are.”