George Osborne during a visit to officially re-open The Red Lion pub in Westminster, following a major refurbishment, on February 25, 2014. Photograph: Getty Images.
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How a minimum wage rise will help the coalition

The first real-terms increase since 2008 will make it easier for the Tories and the Lib Dems to argue that the trend is moving in the right direction.

After months of speculation over a rise in the minimum wage, the Low Pay Commission has finally spoken: the main rate will rise by 3 per cent to £6.50 an hour from October this year. With inflation running at 1.9 per cent (and expected to remain on target), it will be the first real-terms increase since 2008. Labour is pointing out that the rate is below the £7 figure touted by George Osborne (with Chuka Umunna accusing him of "misleading and empty rhetoric"), but it's worth noting that the Chancellor suggested that the minimum wage could rise to this level "by 2015-16" (not 2014-15). Should the LPC recommend a larger increase next year (with the recovery continuing to accelerate), this target could be still be met.

For both the Tories and the Lib Dems, the announcement is unambiguously good news. While Labour can still point out that the average worker is £1,600 worse off than before David Cameron became prime minister, the coalition can at least argue that the trend is moving in the right direction. As the Lib Dems seek to earn some political credit from the recovery and the Tories (however unconvincingly) rebrand themselves as the "Workers' Party", a rise in the minimum wage (which will benefit at least 1.2 million workers) is among the most helpful measures.

Whether or not the voters regard this as a genuine "recovery" is one of the issues that will determine the outcome of the election. A recent YouGov poll for the Resolution Foundation found that 39 per cent of the public believe a "recovery in living standards" requires their incomes to start rising again after recent falls, while 46 per cent believe it requires incomes to be restored to their pre-crisis level (which is not forecast to happen until the end of the decade), showing how finely-balanced the debate is. A rise in the minimum wage will help the coalition to convince voters that its preferred definition of "recovery" is the right one.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Indie band The 1975 want to “sue the government” over the Electoral Commission’s latest advert

Frontman Matt Healy perhaps isn’t aware that the Electoral Commission is not, in fact, the government (or believes that this is part of a wider conspiracy).

How do you make registering to vote in the EU Referendum cool? It sounds like something  from The Thick of It, but judging by the Electoral Commission’s latest TV ad for their new voting guide, this was a genuine question posed in their meetings this month. The finished product seems inspired by teen Tumblrs with its killer combination of secluded woodlands, vintage laundrettes and bright pink neon lighting.

But indie-pop band The 1975 saw a different inspiration for the advert: the campaign for their latest album, I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It (Yes, a title perhaps even more cumbersome than “The EU Referendum - You Can’t Miss It (Phase One)”).

Lead singer Matt Healy posted a picture of the guide with the caption “LOOK OUT KIDZ THE GOVERNMENT ARE STEALING OUR THOUGHTS!!” back on 17 May. The release of the TV spot only furthered Healy’s suspicions:

Healy perhaps isn’t aware that the Electoral Commission is not, in fact, the government (or believes that this is part of a wider conspiracy).

The 1975’s manager, Jamie Oborne, was similarly outraged.

Oborne added that he was particularly “disappointed” that the director for the band’s video for their song “Settle Down”, Nadia Marquard Otzen, also directed the Electoral Commission’s ad. But Otzen also directed the Electoral Commission’s visually similar Scottish Referendum campaign video, released back in September 2014: almost a year before The 1975 released the first promotional image for their album on Instagram on 2 June 2015.

Many were quick to point out that the band “didn’t invent neon lights”. The band know this. Their visual identity draws on an array of artists working with neon: Dan Flavin’s florescent lights, James Turrell’s “Raemar pink white”, Nathan Coley’s esoteric, and oddly-placed, Turner-shortlisted work, Bruce Nauman’s aphoristic signs, Chris Bracey’s neon pink colour palette, to just name a few – never mind the thousands of Tumblrs that undoubtedly inspired Healy’s aesthetics (their neon signs were exhibited at a show called Tumblr IRL). I see no reason why Otzen might not be similarly influenced by this artistic tradition.

Of course, The 1975 may be right: they have helped to popularise this particular vibe, moving it out of aesthetic corners of the internet and onto leaflets dropped through every letterbox in the country. But if mainstream organisations weren’t making vaguely cringeworthy attempts to jump on board a particular moment, how would we know it was cool at all?

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.