The Intelex team look back at highlights from the weekend and what’s ahead, with a particular focus on the count-down to the 2015 Election:
The story this weekend: The Mail on Sunday published details of Labour’s public health strategy based on leaked documents, revealing the Party’s plans on public health, fitness, and alcohol. The document outlined plans including reducing sugar and salt content in products targeted at children and banning advertising before the 9pm watershed. Other plans include a minimum alcohol price and preventing drinks companies from sponsoring sports, impeding supermarkets from selling sweets at checkouts, a target of encouraging half the population to take up regular exercise within the next decade, and the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes. However the article suggested that the Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna, opposes this interventionist stance, and quoted an unnamed Labour MP arguing that the Party ‘need to show business we are on their side’. Umunna last week addressed the Food and Drink Federation annual dinner, emphasising the Party’s support for the sector – and failing to mention any aspect of Labour’s plans to tackle obesity and unhealthy lifestyles. Labour figures have largely stayed silent on social media about the leak.
More Labour this weekend: Ed Miliband suggested Labour would consider a form of renationalisation of the railways. The proposal may well be popular given rising train prices and the £4bn of annual subsidy the rail network receives. The proposals would see the Labour take over the franchises as they expire, thereby costing the Government nothing. However, there is rumoured to be a £325m short-fall in the rail funding which would probably prevent an immediate cut in ticket prices.
The story of the week ahead: This week marks a year to go until the 2015 General Election and commentators seem to agree on one thing at least: the outcome is uncertain, with the likely impact of UKIP on the outcome posing a major conundrum. As Patrick Wintour outlines in The Guardian, ‘In the short term, The Great Unknown is whether the European and local elections will turn out to be a frolic, and the serious business of politics, as senior Tory Ken Clarke put it last week, will thereafter return.’ In his column, Patrick Wintour looks at the packed schedule of political events coming up over the next year, but reflects that one thing is likely: Government will grind to a halt as the parties turn their attention to the election