Election Dissection – a swift ride through the week’s political news

Which parties are encountering turbulence? Who’s on the war path? Is anyone winning? Here’s what’s been happening

Zoom, and the working week is over.

You’ve probably been toiling away earning a living and making a valuable contribution to society.

Now it’s time for a beer or two in the pub and a lie down by the fire – though perhaps not at the same time.

But while you’ve been working, have the politicians that represent us been doing the same?

Here’s a handy round-up of the week’s political news to keep you abreast of what’s going on in the grubby world of electioneering.

Monday

The world woke on Monday to find that HSBC’s Swiss banking arm was tearing the banking world apart. This was an immediate headache for the government as it emerged David Cameron had appointed HSBC boss Stephen Green as trade minister a full eight months after the HSBC revelations were made known to the government. Whoops.

George Osborne was also in the line of fire, but this was for deciding to prolong a very generous deal on pension schemes. The chancellor was accused of “intergenerational theft”.

Tuesday

Labour seized on its chance to embarrass the government over the HSBC revelations, highlighting the government’s record on hiring dodgy people (like Andy Coulson). An “urgent” inquiry into the banking scandal has now been launched.

Cameron Snooze sleepy

Cameron, meanwhile, was trying to make himself popular by telling firms they ought to give their employees a pay rise. “It’s time Britain had a pay rise,” he said. If anyone got a raise as a result of this, then please do let us know in the comments below.

Wednesday

Labour frontbench mean girls

The SNP came roaring out of the blocks early on Wednesday morning. First, Nicola Sturgeon took to the air on Radio 4’s Today programme to inform listeners that any coalition they might be part of would have to rethink its attitude to spending cuts, then, during a speech at UCL, Sturgeon said that the coalition government’s austerity programme has “categorically and comprehensively failed.” Good powerful ideological stuff.

Labour also tried to do something on Wednesday, but like a lot of stuff coming from them, it didn’t quite come out right. The party was forced to defend a pink minibus that it is going to drive around the country in a bid to get women voting for them. Some said that the colour was “patronising”. But was this really an own-goal, or a canny media ploy? Either way, the love bus has certainly got people talking.

Then, during prime minister’s questions, Ed Miliband took another pop at Cameron, over the HSBC scandal. Miliband described the Cameron as “a dodgy PM surrounded by dodgy donors,” and singled out Tory peer Lord Fink over his tax affairs. Fink then challenged Miliband to withdraw the remarks, or he’d sue him.

Thursday

“UKIP is a state of mind,” Nigel Farage said in Essex on Thursday, as he claimed that the party was the main challenger in nearly every constituency in England. Meanwhile, his policy chief declared that the party would be the only one to have any spending power if elected, as leaving the EU would give it “billions to play with”.

Farage also wrote a column in the Telegraph in which he ruled out entering a coalition government at all, but said he would support any party that promised an in/out referendum.

Ed Miliband hand in air like spider

Ed Miliband managed to keep his head above water, as Lord Fink “made an extraordinary U-turn”, to use Miliband’s words, and dropped his threat to sue the Labour leader. Speaking to the Evening Standard, Fink said that the term tax avoidance was so broad that “everybody does it.”

Friday

After last week’s Labour vs big business showdown, they’re not going out of their way to woo back the powerful players. Today, Ed Balls announced Labour plans to extend a “clawback” of bankers’ bonuses and fixed pay from seven years to ten years, if found guilty of wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, Miliband had to fend off questions about his family’s tax arrangements after he singled out Lord Fink. Any suggestion Miliband avoided tax are “a straightforward lie”, Labour said today.

And finally, the email allegedly sent to HMRC in 2008 by a whistleblower uncovering the bank’s murky practices has been found. HMRC said it had no knowledge of the email, but French paper Le Monde found the email and has shown it to the BBC. It is significant as HMRC could have used the information to crack down on tax evaders and prosecute those committing offences.

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