SO SHINY Dave has handed in his notice to the Queen and weeks of increasingly ridiculous publicity stunts lie ahead of us. The question is, will the electorate remember a few of the darker moments from the Tories’ reign?The Chancellor, George Osborne, the man in charge of the nation’s finances, “didn’t know” it was wrong to claim £100,000 in expenses to cover mortgage interest payments on a horses’ paddock. Fourteen of the top Tory donors are linked to tax avoidance schemes, meaning higher taxes for voters. Iain Duncan Smith claimed “we can live on £7.50 a day” then claimed £39 of public money for his breakfast.Prime Minister David Cameron, the man who raised tuition fees to £9K, got a tax-free private education, free university and a grant, despite being a millionaire’s son. Meanwhile, the banks who ruined the economy got £375 billion free money, and safeguards to protect us in future delayed by eight years.To be fair, it’s not just the Tories who’ve been up to no good. Labour has had its sticky moments.Hazel Blears, the MP Salford, who repaid thousands of pounds in capital gains tax at the height of the MPs’ expenses scandal, is standing down this term.She will be joined by nine of the Labour party’s most high-achieving female MPs. The list includes former secretary of state, Tessa Jowell, five former ministers or junior ministers – Anne McGuire, Meg Munn, Dawn Primarolo, Glenda Jackson and Joan Ruddock, as well as former parliamentary private secretary Sian James and committee chair Joan Walley. With that lot gone, will Labour actually have anything substantial to put on the table come the May 7?Between now and the General Election, MPs and large chunks of the Civil Service are officially on holiday. MPs and a lot of other people who work in parliament actually get 25 WEEKS a year annual leave.Most of us are lucky to get 25 days, but once the MPs are elected, parliament will go on recess from July 22 to September 1. Then again from September 12 to October 13, then again from November 11 to November 17, and a break over Christmas from December 18 to January 5 and then again from February 12 to February 23. It makes you wonder how they manage to make such a mess of running the country when they’re hardly ever at work.HAVE YOU been into a branch of Argos lately? They are the latest high street chain to jump on the “not a shop assistant in sight” bandwagon. Gone are the catalogues, little jotter pads, the stubby betting shop pens that were such a familiar and reassuring sight. Instead there are white desks with white touch-screen ipads on them.Customers search on the ipad for what they want, place the order and pay at a self-service till. Then their purchases are placed on a counter for them to collect. The whole process is carried out without any contact with a human being whatsoever.Unfortunately for Argos, the baby boomer generation, who have lots of cash to spend are walking out in their droves. You see, they like a bit of please and thank you when they shop.Older people have money to spend but they want some human interaction. They want a trained, friendly shop assistant to help them with their purchase.There is some good news though. The new CEO of supermarket Morrisons has decided to stop relying on technology and get more staff manning the tills. The reason for this is that customer feedback revealed shoppers like to speak to an assistant. You don’t say?
Kevan Blackadder is a media consultant who runs Blackadder Media Limited. Kevan was previously editor of the Gloucestershire Echo and assistant editor of the Bristol Post. A Cumbrian who moved to the South West “for a couple of years” in the 1980s, he can’t quite believe he’s been there ever since.