Election dissection: A rapid round-up of the week’s political proceedings

Which parties are on track, and which have gone off the rails?

There are now just 68 days to go until the 2015 general election.

Contenders, ready?

Gladiators, ready?

Nope. Nobody’s ready. The big rhetoric guns are beginning to fire a few warning shots across the UK, but as yet, the campaigning hasn’t begun in earnest.

Instead, the four main parties – these are now the Tories, Labour, UKIP and the Greens – are simply being slapped about by the media. Nobody looks good.

Let’s take a look at what has happened this week. It’s bloody mess.

Monday

Woah there Monday. Before we’ve even rubbed the sleep out of our eyes, Jack Straw is coming over all humble on the Today programme. That’s not usual. What happened? Well, Monday dealt a heavy blow to both the Labour Party and the Conservatives after reporters from the Daily Telegraph teamed up with Channel 4 to conduct a sting operation on MPs. The Tories’ Malcolm Rifkind and Labour’s Straw were both suckered in, and were secretly filmed offering services to a fictitious private company for cash. Plonkers.

Monday was also a bad start for UKIP, after an embarrassing poll indicated that 42% of the party’s supporters are a “little prejudiced against people of other races”, while a further 6% said they are “very prejudiced”.

Tuesday

In addition to hitting the Labour party and the Tories, Channel 4 had also been upsetting UKIP’s loyal hordes by making a brace of less than supportive programmes. Racist comments resulted in the party suspending one councillor, while it also emerged on Tuesday that the far-right organisation Britain First orchestrated complaints to Channel 4 and Ofcom about the programmes.

Polls

So on Tuesday the polls looked like this:

Labour: 36%

Conservatives: 32%

UKIP: 11% (indicating a fall of 5 percentage points in one week)

Greens: 8%

Lib Dems: 7%

(source: Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft)

Despite the Greens surpassing the Lib Dems in the polls, Tuesday was a truly catastrophic day for Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, who made two radio appearances on Tuesday morning and screwed both of them up really properly. The silver lining was that “Greens” and “Natalie Bennett” were both trending worldwide on Twitter on Tuesday – you can’t buy that kind of publicity.

LondonlovesBusiness had actually caught up with Bennett a couple of days before, and she’d said that a bad day is when “I can’t get the message across.”

Wednesday

After initially blasting the Telegraph and Channel 4 as “contemptible”, Rifkind then announced he would give up his safe Kensington seat at the general election. Straw had already said he would be standing down, but Rifkind had been seeking a further parliamentary term. There will now be a desperate scrabble to find a suitable candidate for the prominent London seat. Early suggestions have included:  ex-Olympic rower James Cracknell, Jeremy “Newsnight” Paxman, historian Dan Snow, and television presenter Kirsty Allsopp.

Notoriously dubious speaker and Labour leader Ed Miliband somehow managed to “win” Prime Minister’s questions on Wednesday, turning the Rifkind/Straw affair into a debate over MPs having second jobs. Miliband said a Labour government would rule second jobs out. Cameron refused to be pressed on the point. A subsequent poll by the Times found that 55% of people supported a ban on second jobs, and just 25% supported allowing them.

Thursday

Magician cards

Abracadabra… and the money is gone!

Who knew that the people of Britain’s taxes were being used to hire magicians to entertain arms dealers?

It sounds bloody ridiculous because it is bloody ridiculous. Taxpayers are also funding days out to the races and croquet lessons to these gun and missile merchants too. If that wasn’t bad enough, then it turns out we’re also coughing-up when they get speeding fines. The system needs a “vital” overhaul said Defence Minister Michael Fallon. He is not wrong.

It was another bad day at the office for Cameron, as official figures released showed that net migration had risen to 298,000 for the year ending in September 2014. In 2011 the prime minister promised to get net migration down to the tens of thousands, “no ifs, no buts”.

Friday

As the working week draws to a close, the FT is reporting that Miliband, that is Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, has a 74% chance of becoming the UK’s next prime minister. Who’d have thunk it? But there’s still plenty of time for Miliband to screw it all up - 68 entire days in fact.  

Elsewhere, George Osborne isn’t helping his party look virtuous, after it turned out that his budget claim in which he said he had “halved” the UK’s £1.7bn payment to EU, was said to be “not supported by the facts”. And who is saying that Osborne was essentially telling a massive porkie in parliament? Labour? A desperate Lib Dem? The Greens? Nope. It was Conservative MP and treasury committee chairman Andrew Tyrie.

The revelations come after David Cameron said the British people would find the “vast” £1.7bn sum “totally unacceptable”. Yet what has happened is that his government has paid the full whack and didn’t admit to it. Some would have similarly harsh words for this sort of conduct.

More UKIP news, this time positive stuff for the party: firstly, it looks like Nigel Farage is on course to win a seat in parliament representing Thanet South. He is currently has an 11% lead in the polls, with 38.6%. Labour is next with 27.6%, Tories, 26.6%, Greens on 3.1% and Lib Dems on 2%. Why are the Lib Dems even bothering?

And at the UKIP spring conference in Margate, Kent, Mark Reckless said UKIP is the party of the NHS, and has pledged to scrap parking charges at hospitals, which he described as a “tax on illness”.

Wahey, pints and cigars all round.

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