Election 2015

Election 2015: A night out with the manifestos

Elections tend to be dominated by big important things - tax, spending, education, jobs, the NHS - but are there any eye-catching policies which could have an impact on your leisure time?

What follows will not be everyone's idea of a good night out. Some of it comes with a health warning. But it should give you a flavour of the changes that could be coming when the dust has settled after 7 May.


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The Conservatives have made much of the pennies George Osborne has shaved from the price of a pint and the coalition's efforts to save local pubs by making it harder for well-loved establishments to be closed down or converted into flats. The Lib Dems want to extend this protection to all pubs, not just those deemed to be "community assets". Labour has declared war on "high-strength, low-cost" alcohol, although there is no mention of minimum pricing in its manifesto. It wants to end people loading up on cheap booze at home, before heading for a night out. "We believe pubs are the safest places to drink and we want to see a higher proportion of Britain's alcohol drunk in pubs," said Labour's shadow pubs minister Toby Hopkins recently. UKIP, which has been a running a "save the pub campaign," would introduce "smoking rooms" in pubs and tax breaks for microbreweries. Nigel Farage's party also opposes minimum unit pricing for alcohol. The Lib Dems back minimum pricing "subject to the outcome of the legal challenge in Scotland". SNP legislation setting a minimum unit price of 50p is being challenged in the courts by the Scotch Whisky Association. The Greens and Plaid Cymru also back minimum pricing.

Going for a meal

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UKIP's policy of withdrawal from the EU would have a big impact on the price of food on supermarket shelves and restaurants. Whether it would go up or down is a matter for debate. Similarly, the Green Party's proposals for a dramatic reduction in food imports and more organic farming would change things. The Greens also want to ban the production and sale of foie gras. The bigger parties don't have too much to say about food in their manifestos, although Labour says it would "set maximum permitted levels of sugar, salt and fat in foods marketed substantially to children" as part of a healthy lifestyle drive. Would that spell the end of the McDonald's Happy Meal? It's hard to say until they spell out more details.


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Britain's music industry is a good export earner, which is why politicians are always keen to talk it up. Labour's creative industries policy review - which may have some bearing on what the party would do in government - contains a blizzard of worthy suggestions about tax breaks and regulation. It also suggests job centres should be forced to take an easier line with musicians and actors "resting" between professional engagements. The coalition recently eased licensing restrictions on pubs and small venues that want to put bands on. But the days when the pop stars paraded their party affiliations at election time - and leading industry figures were invited to help form policy - appear to be over for now.


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Labour wants to give football fans a bigger say in the boardroom, through supporters' trusts. Labour in Scotland wants to repeal SNP legislation banning the singing of sectarian songs at football matches. The Lib Dems have a lot of football policy, including banning homophobic chanting and reintroducing terraces - or "safe standing areas" - at some grounds. They also want to give fans a greater say in the boardroom, an area of common ground with Labour. The Green Party would consider banning horse and greyhound racing, on animal welfare grounds.

The arts

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There is little spare money to spend on publicly subsidised theatre and the performing arts. The Conservatives and Labour have, at least, pledged to keep major museums and art galleries free to enter. Labour wants more National Lottery money to go into the arts. The Conservatives have promised tax breaks for orchestras and children's television and will continue giving tax relief to film, theatre, video games and animation. They have also pledged money for a new theatre in Manchester and a new major concert hall for London. The Green Party wants an extra £500m of public money to go in the arts.


The BBC does not condone the use of illegal drugs, but they are, for better or worse, a part of the lives of millions of Britons. Labour and the Conservatives have virtually identical policies on drug prohibition - to keep the existing laws as they are. The Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cymru advocate a different approach. Nick Clegg wants to investigate the legalisation of cannabis and would end prison sentences for possession, focusing on treatment instead. The Greens would decriminalise cannabis and end prison sentences for possession of other drugs. Plaid would decriminalise cannabis and review the Misuse of Drugs Act to take account of "legal highs". UKIP takes a tough stance on drugs as a party, although its libertarian leader Nigel Farage has said his personal view is that they should be decriminalised as the "war on drugs" has failed. The SNP wants drugs policy to be devolved to Edinburgh, but has shown few signs of wanting to liberalise it.


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Leisure activity or deadly addiction? Either way, there is little to cheer smokers in the plans of the major parties. Labour plans to introduce a £150m levy on the profits of tobacco companies to fund improvements to the NHS - a policy backed by the SNP. The Conservatives and Lib Dems are also considering a tobacco levy. The tobacco firms say this would lead to higher cigarette prices. Only UKIP, whose leader is an enthusiastic consumer of the industry's products, could be described as standing up for smokers' rights. The party would bring back smoking in pubs and reverse plans to outlaw branding on cigarette packs. The Lib Dems mention "vaping" in their manifesto, saying they will "carefully monitor the growing evidence around electronic cigarettes", and adding that they are "a route by which many people are quitting tobacco". Plaid Cymru go further saying: "We will introduce better regulation, including stricter marketing rules, on e-cigarettes".