Is that ringing in my ear just tinnitus brought on by my latest ear-bashing from El Gordo, or is it a distant death knell for DRIP?

Those with an eye for irony will not have failed to notice that whoever swings the axe post-May 6 it will be three years to the week after the creation of this noble office.

And so it is with heavy heart that I fluff up my column this week, knowing that in all probability I will soon be as redundant as Bondandybond's smugness supplier.

And yet in the spirit of public service I feel I should get to the heart of the matter and list honestly and independently, the grocery industry policies of all the serious contenders in the forthcoming election, plus the Lib Dems. Comfy?

Labour: Although it would be a brave man who underestimated Lord Mandacity's ability to dip his beak into anything that moves (government-wise, I mean), he has been spread rather thin over the past year or so what with running the country, the EU and generally keeping geopolitics operating smoothly.

So it's fair to say that Labour's great socialist experiment with regard to retail and grocery has been to let the free market sort it out, occasionally force-feeding the already bloated and pointless bureaucracy of the FSA and hosting a grand competition inquiry every three years to ensure that the lawyers don't go hungry. Expect more of the same.

Conservatives: Maggie may famously have been a shopkeeper's daughter but with the type of street cred that can only arise from the school of hard knocks (Eton and Oxford), David Cameron's version of a trip round the local c-store is sending the third butler's PA's runner on the Eurostar to Fauchon to top up on fromage de zigounette.

And of Mandy's shadow Mark Prisk we learn from Retail Week that he "knows a bit about retail, having been a commercial chartered surveyor"

Liberal Democrats: Who knows? Who cares?

SNP: Free Buckie and halfy-halfies for all, paid for by the Sassenach.

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