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The Campaign 2015: Tax Dodgers and Dodgy Donors

The Hippo Collective proudly presents the second edition of ‘The Campaign’, your weekly update on all the developments of the 2015 election. The last week has been dominated by the tax dodging row between Labour and the Conservatives, but also saw the official start of the UKIP campaign, a patronising effort to “connect” with female voters from Labour, and a leak which offers a shocking perspective on Tory strategy.

 

Tax Dodgers and ‘Dodgy’ Donors

Following an exchange of harsh words (and a fair few insults) across the house at Prime Ministers Questions last Wednesday, a debate has raged about who is donating money to whom, and exactly how much tax these donors pay. In PMQ’s Ed Miliband called the Prime Minister “rotten” and a “dodgy prime minister surrounded by dodgy donors”. He picked out Lord Fink in particular, the ex Tory Treasurer and generous donor, and accused him of tax-avoidance via a Swiss Bank Account. Fink threatened to sue Miliband for Libel if he repeated his comments outside of Parliament, but stepped back in what Miliband called ‘An extraordinary U-turn’ (Fink probably consulted with his lawyer and found that Ed didn’t accuse him of anything illegal). Although David Cameron responded by pointing out similar discrepancies with Labour donors, in conjunction with the accusations which emerged of Ed personally benefitting from a form of Tax Avoidance, the natural image of the Tories will means Cameron and his party will find this debate inherently toxic in the eyes of the public.

Minor parties like the greens are actually feeling the benefit of this row, with a small step up in polling. I would put this down to the general un-attractiveness of the PM and Ed exchanging insults across the house – as well as the fact that Ed’s route of attack does incur some friendly-fire as his shadow cabinet and donors come under more intense scrutiny. However Labour has obviously calculated that being the side stimulating the debate they will get more credit from those disgusted by the tiny tax bill of the super-rich. The conservative Master of the Polls Lord Ashcroft called the whole affair an ‘unappetising spectacle’ – but then again he is under scrutiny himself. Does this whole show offer a good reason for state-funding of Political Parties? I’ll say no more…

 

UKIP’s campaign has started – but are they a bit bored?

UKIP officially started their campaign this week, with Farage making his statement of intent for British politics. His speech contains almost everything you would expect, with promises to deal with ‘corporatism’ in Britain, to reward ex-servicemen, and promises to upturn the ‘Westminster Elite.’ A glaring omission is only the briefest of mentions to immigration policy – one of the areas in which UKIP thrives – probably because they find a much more hostile reaction in the media than they do on the doorstep, and so tone it down for media events such as this.

Farage writes in The Telegraph that ‘this election campaign has been incredibly dull so far’. This interesting little point signals a larger phenomenon, however – the main parties are giving UKIP the silent treatment. They are not talking about them, or about policies in which UKIP leads, like the EU and immigration. This has been reflected in the polls, as UKIP have steadily fallen over the past few weeks.

For an interesting satire of UKIP Britain check out Channel 4’s one-off drama, ‘UKIP: The First 100 Days’. It paints an interesting (though thankfully fictional) picture of an imagined future with Farage winning the election.

 

Labour’s Pink Bus – Because women like pink, right?

Labour’s initiative to send their new pink bus touring the country to ‘connect with the voters’ (though not in the way John Prescott does) has met with a hostile response, being labelled ‘patronising’ and ‘sexist’. Labour has announced they are focusing on women in five areas: childcare, social care, domestic violence, equal pay and political representation. Of course these are all important issues, and everyone should be concerned by them, but the critics have asked why are they of greater concern to women than the economy, the environment, and tax dodgers? Labour are, however, trying to make the point that they are one of the more representative parties in Westminster – although they are a long way behind the greens, a party with their only MP a woman, as well as their leader, and 2/3 of their MEP’s.

 

They aren’t even trying any more…

It appears that lazy IT guys in Tory HQ have let slip something pretty shocking – the Conservatives are no longer aiming to win the election. On the Conservative Party website, each candidate has their own page where they have a photo and some information. Some observant web-trawler noticed that hidden in the code on these pages was a tag ‘non-target-candidate.’ This seems fairly innocuous, every party has their target and non-target seats, and most of these seats are either safe wins for the Tories, or ones they will never win – so it all seems fine? It isn’t, however, as a fair few of the seats that the Tories would really have to win in order to get a majority are on this non-target list. Many commentators have accepted that no one will win a majority – but surely they should still try?

 

The Polling Report

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(Courtesy of ukpollingreport.co.uk)

 

There remains nothing between the top two, with Lib Dems continuing do very badly. UKIP have slipped a little since last week, maybe because of the silent treatment from the main parties. The Greens continue to creep up week on week, and these votes are likely coming from across the board as an alternative way of moving away from the major parties, but without voting for UKIP or the untrusted Lib Dems.

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