Election dissection: LLB’s weekly political roundup

What’s going on and who’s doing it? A rapid recap

The election is coming. With less than four months to go, politicians and parties are limbering up for the slanging match that will have all the glamour and glory of a drunken fist-fight.

This time round, the election is quite different though. The two main parties are in poor shape – like veteran boxers gone to seed, they are both flabby, unappealing and their fans aren’t interested. Meanwhile a few callow contenders have stepped into the ring uninvited and are beginning to throw their weight around.

Things are getting confusing, dangerous and exciting.

As the uncouth spectacle unfolds, LondonlovesBusiness.com will be providing a weekly roundup of the most noteworthy political occurrences. A lot can happen in a week.

Monday 12 January

Here’s a clue as to the state of the nation: on Monday it was revealed that the government’s largest department, the Department for Work and Pensions, is on the hunt for an expert in 1970s computers, as it wants to modernise its creaking system. The upgrade is expected to cost a billion pounds a year.

Meanwhile, David Cameron met security chiefs and pledged to take measures to stop what he described as the “fanatical death cult of Islamist extremist violence”. The key to doing this was Cameron’s resurrection of the so-called “snoopers’ charter”, a key part of which is clamping down on encrypted messaging services running on modern computer technology. Onwards and backwards!

Tuesday 13 January

Tuesday is a prime news day. What have we got? Well, after David Cameron laid out his six key electoral issues, which is basically “economy, economy, economy, economy, economy and economy,” some people in the Tory party got a bit nervous. Boris Johnson joked that the party is fighting the election with “a one-point plan”, while a Tory MP reputedly said: “They’re going to spend 121 days beating us round the head on the economy.”

While this riveting stuff was going on, a poll showed that what tops the list of voter concerns is not the economy, but free healthcare, followed by immigration policy.

Wednesday 14 January

Al Murray Pub Landlord

“That’s it. Cameron’s not coming. Just put an empty chair on the stage,” is basically what Labour, the Lib Dems and UKIP said about Cameron’s reluctance to take part in a TV debate. Cameron was no doubt rubbing his hands together with glee at cleverly avoiding being forced into the ring (so far), while also appearing to have won some sort of point about fairness, by saying he wouldn’t do it unless the Green Party was included. “Scaredy-cat”, shouted opponents. Though perhaps “sly-dog” would be more apt.  

Storms were also brewing elsewhere, as many technology experts realised that Cameron’s Monday announcement in which he said that private messaging technologies should be unavailable to the public would mean the banning of popular services such as Snapchat and WhatsApp. Quelle Horreur!

But the biggest bomb dropped late on Wednesday afternoon, when comedian Al Murray announced that his character The Pub Landlord was entering the unholy fray and taking on Nigel Farage at the election with his party FUKP. Policies include the Spinal-Tap-esque promise to revalue the pound at £1.10 so it is worth 10p more. Common Sense.

Thursday 15 January

On Thursday a media scramble ensued to ascertain whether the Green Party now has more members than UKIP. By mid-morning it was confirmed. But can they turn this growing success into votes?

And could this impact the TV debates? It’s too early to call, but Nick Clegg can’t wait to get on TV again. On Thursday he called on broadcasters to grow a “backbone”, adding that Cameron’s “sudden teary-eyed compassion” for the Green Party was “laughable”.

Elsewhere, former Conservative Party leader William Hague announced he is moving to a huge house in Wales after the election, when he will retire from frontline politics. Good idea.

Friday 16 January

After the Greens’ coup on Thursday, they went one better than that on Friday, and overtook the LibDems’ membership numbers to become the fourth biggest party in Britain, after Labour, the Conservatives and the SNP.

Labour leader Ed Miliband hit out at the “scandal” that almost a million voters are “missing” from the electoral register, something he is blaming – guess who – Cameron and Clegg for, after “rushing through” registration reforms, as he put it.

What will next week hold?

Will the Green’s be included in TV debates? Will Cameron be forced to join in too? What will the latest poll reveal about the public, and will computers still be legal?

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