The Prime Minister Gordon Brown has ended months of speculation by calling a General Election for May 6. The announcement kicks off a month of campaigning in Liverpool and across the country.
As had been widely predicted, the Labour party leader travelled to Buckingham Palace this morning to ask the Queen to dissolve parliament which will happen next Monday, April 12.
Mr Brown has outlined three big challenges facing the country - securing the economic recovery, protecting front-line services whilst halving the deficit, and renewing faith in politics.
The Conservative leader David Cameron says his party are fighting this election for "the great ignored", while Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg says this announcement marks "the beginning of the end for Gordon Brown".
In Liverpool, Labour will look to hold onto their traditional stronghold in the city, but the Conservatives will be attempting to make gains in the wider Merseyside area, targeting seats in Wirral and Chester.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have made Liverpool
Wavertree one of their top targets in the North West, with
Colin Eldridge battling it out against Labour's Luciana
Berger in what is set to be the most interesting election
campaign in the city.
The Lib Dems will also hope to retain control of the city
council, which they currently hold with a majority of just
A YouGov poll published in the Sunday Times this week
suggested that on a national level the Conservatives
had widened their lead over Labour after months of the
governing party narrowing the gap.
The results put the party up two points on 39%, Labour down three on 29% and Liberal Democrats up one on 20%. If the results were repeated in May's election, there would be a hung parliament in which no party has an overall majority with which to govern.
A hung parliament would mean that who becomes the next Prime Minister could be dependant on the stance taken by the Liberal Democrats.
Various polls have the Conservatives ahead of Labour by between four and ten per cent, making this one of the closest elections since 1992.
All three party leaders will take part in three American-style TV debates to be held over the next four weeks.
The election campaign is likely to be dominated by talk of the economy, with Conservative proposals to reverse part of the government's planned increase in National Insurance contributions being widely debated throughout the past week and set to be a key election issue.
Labour says that the Tory plans would result in an increase in VAT. The Prime Minister also says that opposition plans to cut £6bn from public spending as soon as possible would be a bad move.
He even compared the economic recovery to Wayne Rooney's ankle injury in his weekly podcast, saying the economy is not yet "back to full fitness" and needs support - much like the footballer, who has minor ligament damage.
The Liberal Democrats are pledging that no one will pay income tax on the first £10,000 they earn if they win the election.
By Hugh O'Connell, Website Producer
JMU Journalism Election 2010
Gordon Brown faces challenges from Conservative leader David Cameron and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg