Resolutely eschewing even the tiniest hint of politics, this maintains the absolute neutrality required on the actual polling day, lest any of us should be tempted to adjust our voting intentions by the least part of a scruple. I rather dragged the exercise out to 33 minutes, which looks like a long time for a puzzle with few obscurities and nothing that can’t (eventually) be resolved.
As for me, since this puzzle didn’t help at all in making up my desperately unimpressed mind, I shall go and vote for whatever appears to emerge, however briefly, from the grey mists of political obfuscation. In the meantime, I offer my outworkings with the usual clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS
1 Comic actor means well, I think, when performing (7,8)
KENNETH WILLIAMS A performing version of means well I think. Infamy, infamy...
9 New group of pupils in school followed rules (9)
CONFORMED N(ew) FORM, here a group of pupils, take up a position in a CO-ED, the sort of school where boys and girls are taught together. Merciful heavens, whatever next?
10 Class sets actually reduced in size, on reflection (5)
CASTE Nothing to do with education, but a reverse hidden in sETS ACtually.
11 Unusually big bird, bony (6)
OSTEAL A large bird might be an O(ut) S(ize) TEAL
12 Breed of dog — not bitch — unable to bark? (8)
MALEMUTE “a breed of powerful dogs with a double coat of hair, widely distributed in the Arctic regions and used esp for drawing sledges”. But you knew that. If not a bitch, the dog is MALE, and if not barking, then MUTE. Trust the wordplay.
13 Join person starving shortly before noon (6)
FASTEN our starving person is a FASTER, who has been shortened before adding N(oon)
15 Russian who gained power when installed by tsar ultimately (8)
RASPUTIN It was a shame how he carried on. When installed translates neatly to AS PUT IN, and the R comes from the end of Tsar. Not quite an &lit, but a very neat telling of one of the more interesting bits of history.
18 Container of cold wine knocked back (8)
CANISTER RETSINA has its uses: weedkiller, battery acid, paint stripper and collection of letters which, when reversed, make a nice clue filler, especially here if coming after C(old)
19 Hard to connect electrical supply in home (6)
HEARTH is an acceptable synecdoche for the whole hone, with some previous in literature. Hard provides the H, and one way of connecting a power supply is to EARTH it. For you Aussies, that means getting a Sparkie to do it for you because the government won’t let you.
21 A way to get in money for religious movement (8)
LOLLARDY “followers of John Wycliffe, the 14c English religious reformer” A R(oa)D way is planted in LOLLY for money.
23 Sailor, say, goes on ship's prow without fuss (3,3)
SEA DOG Say provides EG, ship’s prow S, and fuss ADO. Assemble until it looks right
26 The BBC broadcast musical work, a form of jazz (5)
BEBOP The BBC is affectionately known as the BEEB, which when broadcast on steam radio and with a classical OP(us) tagged on, sounds like our jazz.
27 Something for nothing: half of my ear, nose and throat surgery (9)
TREATMENT A TREAT might be free of charge, and half of MY gives you, this time, the M. ENT is a time honoured, simple abbreviation for otorhinolaryngology, which encapsulates almost everything that is wrong with the NHS
28 Talk, repeatedly recalling a significant WW2 date (5,5,5)
YADDA YADDA YADDA When it last turned up in 2010, it only had three Ds not six, but the alternative is OK, and is in any case a tripled reversal of A D DAY, the Normandy landings of 1944.
1 Beginning to go mad (7)
KICKOFF the beginning definition is the one that counts, because in US armour plated football it’s hyphenless. By coincidence, my neighbour kicked off today when visited by a rapidly-terrified doctor. I would say that adequately compasses going mad.
2 Group’s lack of connection to World Wide Web (5)
NONET. Which is what you would have with an error that boldly declares there’s no internet, rather like declaring there’s no Sun because the clouds are there instead.
3 Environmental markers local bees swarm round (3-6)
ECO LABELS In keeping with the idea that anything with ECO in front is OK with Greenpeace and whales. An anagram (swaem around) of LOCAL BEES.
4 Actors having bit of a laugh over script (4)
HAMS only a bit of ha ha ha. And a MS, manuscript.
5 Vessel a waitress overturned in pub (8)
INDIAMAN A ship sort of vessel, made up of an INN, intruded on by A MAID backwards. I’ll leave you to decide whether a waitress and a maid are the same thing.
6 Secondary school leads in learning: you can expect excellence (5)
LYCEE The primary letters of the last five words of the clue.
7 Mugger picked up a book in church? (9)
ASSAULTER, which might be misheard as A PSALTER, a collection of the biblical Psalms.
8 Queen, perhaps, taken to new liquor store? (7)
SHEBEEN not a cat, but a SHE BEE, and taken to a convenient N(ew).
14 Item of furniture manufactured in Leeds (GB) (6,3)
SINGLE BED “We’ll share the shelter”. An anagram of LEEDS (GB). As Kevin points out, you also need the IN to comlete the anagram fodder. Thanks!
16 At the moment very little money gets moved into bank (9)
PRESENTLY Very little money is the single P, bank is RELY, and SENT for moved is interpolated.and
17 Archdeacon 'aving 'eadgear, up for a fight (8)
VENDETTA Archdeacons are VEN(erable). They just are. If they are wearing an unaspirated hat, they are ATTED, which is reversed (up) and tagged on.
18 One employed by theatre company welcomes everyone — bravo! (7)
CALL BOY Company in its slightly longer abbreviation gives COY, ALL is “welcomed” in, along with a NATO alphabet B Bravo.
20 Fellow eats scrap, deprived of starter before a meal? (4,3)
HIGH TEA Fellow is HE, and the “eaten” scrap is FIGHT from which you remove the first letter. Tag on the A
22 Athenian character's surprised expression, carrying revolver (5)
ALPHA So we’re looking for a Greek letter, not a person. AHA is the surprised expression , and Revolver, continuing yesterday’s Beatle theme, is an LP
24 Fear money is short after onset of devaluation (5)
DREAD Money is READY, but short of the Yen. D for devaluation which commences the required word.
25 Repair minute object (4)
MEND M(inute) and END as in objective.