Election dissection: Political stew, boiled down

Our weekly what’s-what as we count down to the election

Another week, another bubbling cauldron of political stew.

How can we make sense of it? Should we eat it?

With 97 days to go until Britons must decide who will rule Britannia, this week was a largely unimpressive one, for all players involved.

Instead, it became increasingly apparent that Britain’s two-party system is a goner.

Nobody has yet told that to the Tories or Labour though, who have kept up the squabbling as though it’s still only them who matter.

Nonetheless, a lot has occurred this week. Let’s cast our memories (and our web browsers) back to the beginning of the week to see what has been achieved.


Monday kicked off with a humiliating start for the incumbent administration. A hoax caller managed to deceive various security measures and get through to David Cameron after pretending to be the head of the intelligence service.

In classic British style, the prankster immediately sold his story to the Sun, and announced that he was high on cocaine and drunk on alcohol. Top job.

After this, the week just got better. A letter written by George Osborne was widely circulated by the press in which the Chancellor, at the behest of fracking company Cuadrilla, asked MPs to fast-track fracking in the UK as a “personal priority”.


Polls indicated that the Labour party is on course to do well in London, which is traditionally a Labour-voting city. With a 10-point lead over the Tories (at 42%), could Labour win all of the eight seats it is targeting? Meanwhile, the Lib Dems were languishing behind the Greens and even UKIP with just 7%.

But across the UK as a whole, election polls were incredibly close, with half a dozen polls all showing the Tories and Labour as not more than one point apart.

Elsewhere, Lib Dem Tessa Munt resigned her position as parliamentary aide to Vince Cable after a vote on fracking was passed in the commons (albeit with stringent conditions).


It’s a popularity contest! Nothing damages one’s reputation like being in the public eye. Polls released on Wednesday showed just how unpopular the leaders of the main parties are with the public.

Cameron received an approval rating of -2%, with more people disapproving than approving of him. But this was nothing compared to the ire reserved for hapless Labour leader Ed Miliband, whose “popularity” was in the negative to the tune of -15%.

Meanwhile, poor old Cleggy was at the bottom of the pile, with an approval rating of -18% (don’t mention tuition fees). Nigel Farage, though, may have reason to pour a large one and settle back with a cigar, as he can feel rightly smug with an approval rating of +5%.

But topping the entire popularity contest was Green party leader Natalie Bennett, scoring a knock-out +9%.


In a political plot surely based on a Laurel and Hardy sketch, Tory MPs reputedly schemed to knock a camera man over to prevent a documentary film being made in Parliament. In a fabulous twist, the documentary maker described them as “right wing Tories… what Downing Street know as the berserkers”.

In other television news, regular readers will remember that the last two weeks’ political round-up have been plagued by indecision over the TV debates. Well, this week Cameron really excelled himself in his ability to play the media and the other politicians for the plonkers they all are. All the while, he’s making himself look ridiculous too. So far nobody’s coming out of this fiasco well.

After initially saying he wouldn’t join in the fun and games unless the Green Party was invited too, the programmers have now included them, and the SNP and Plaid Cymru to boot. The result? Cameron now says he won’t do it unless Northern Irish parties are included too. What a #Lad.


Friday marks the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s state funeral. As a result, the Houses of Parliament are ditching contemporary politics for the day and, along with Westminster Abbey, will be holding remembrance services. Meanwhile, a flotilla is being deployed to recreate the one that carried Churchill’s coffin along the river.

Elsewhere, Nigel Farage has said that this election could be the “dirtiest” one ever. In a piece for the Independent, the UKIP frontman rails against the other parties’ social media spending. He also takes the opportunity to say that Dry January has done nothing for him, he can’t wait for a pint, and that reversing the smoking ban in “well-ventilated” rooms in pubs and restaurants is a UKIP policy.

Well, it is Friday after all.

And finally, on Radio 4’s Today programme, former Labour minister Peter Hain voiced what many people dread to think of: that ever-greater numbers could “swell behind” Ed Miliband by the time the election comes round. But he would say that, wouldn’t he.

Is he right? You decide.

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