THE NEWSDESK: Politicians have been making a meal out of their eating habits

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First published in News
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South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

I HAVE been chuckling for the last few weeks over the content of the Facebook page "Overheard in Waitrose".

It contains such gems as: "Samantha put that 'essential' stuff down! When I married you we agreed not to compromise on the quality of our balsamic vinegar."

And the equally amusing: "No Jennie you can't only serve olives at your tenth birthday party...now go and fetch a sirloin for the dog."

I suspect some of the quotes might have been a little, er, buffed up for the site which now has more than 240,000 followers.

But it is indicative of the enormous food snobbery that most of us feel is going on in some quarters - the quarters who can afford to be that picky about it.

Most of us cannot.

Hence why David Cameron has become the latest politician to be seen eating in a place more redolent of the Welsh rugby team: Nando's.

He's walking a familiar path. In the 1960s and 1970s, Harold Wilson and his ilk were quick to associate themselves with ordinary folk with their "beer and sandwiches".

At the height of Pastygate, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls popped into Gregg's in Redditch to get themselves some pasties, as a sign of solidarity with those who would have been affected by the proposed pasty VAT. The rebellion led by pasty makers in the South West succeeded and the proposal was dropped.

Food as a binding agent with the voters is also a big thing on the other side of the Atlantic.

Bill Clinton was renowned for his love of fried chicken and doughnuts, and Barack Obama has been photographed getting a meal in a burger joint.

It plays well with the electorate. It also is a far cry from the bangers, mash and champagne suppers of Jeffrey Archer, for example.

The Prime MInister was photographed eating dinner at a Nando's in Bristol.

Apparently, he tucked in to half a chicken, chips, coleslaw and red wine at the Portuguese eatery.

Last year, Chancellor George Osborne tweeted a picture of himself munching a burger as he added the finishing touches to his spending review.

He was later given a roasting after it emerged the snack cost £10 and was from restaurant chain Byron rather than a cheaper takeaway.

Osborne's answer? "Well, McDonald's doesn't deliver."

There are, however, a whole host of pizza places which do. I'm sure someone in the Treasury has plenty of flyers.

A number of politicians have a troubled past when it comes to dealing with food, too. John Selwyn Gummer and the BSE photocall, feeding his child a beefburger for the cameras. Edwina Currie and salmonella in eggs.

Sometimes, food bites back.

And when it comes to the latest incarnation of dining with the people, I have my reservations,

My cynical side is twitching. Only a few weeks ago, the government was getting a hammering in the media over the huge rise in the numbers of people using foodbanks.

I suspect many of the families who use those banks run by the Trussell Trust and other charities would love to be able to afford a night out at Nando's.

Does a snap of the PM in an eatery which many of us use mean he is just like us, that he understands us?

Are you convinced? I am not.

The opening bars of Pulp's Common People are already going round in my head.

Because we all know it, really, don't we? That any time he likes he could be off to an exclusive supper.

Maybe David Cameron loves Nando's. Maybe I am doing the man a huge disservice.

But all of us also know that any politician who is just "slumming it" for the cameras is insulting our intelligence, treating the voters as people who can be easily swayed and manipulated.

And if we let them get away with it, and forget to keep asking questions about why hundreds of thousands of people are using foodbanks or working two or three jobs to make a living, it's no better than we deserve.

Comments (7)

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3:54pm Sun 11 May 14

Katie Re-Registered says...

What always gets me is the bitter irony of them organising a silver service banquet over which they can then proceed to discuss poverty!
What always gets me is the bitter irony of them organising a silver service banquet over which they can then proceed to discuss poverty! Katie Re-Registered
  • Score: 5

4:21pm Sun 11 May 14

Katie Re-Registered says...

Btw...sorry to double post, but I always have to chuckle when I recall a documentary in which Neil Kinnock recounted the time he went canvassing up the valleys with Peter Mandelson and they stopped to have chips and mushy peas at a local café. After a thoroughly enjoyable meal, apparently Peter Mandelson complimented the owners profusely, adding that he particularly enjoyed the "guacamole dip" (i.e. mushy peas) lol:)
Btw...sorry to double post, but I always have to chuckle when I recall a documentary in which Neil Kinnock recounted the time he went canvassing up the valleys with Peter Mandelson and they stopped to have chips and mushy peas at a local café. After a thoroughly enjoyable meal, apparently Peter Mandelson complimented the owners profusely, adding that he particularly enjoyed the "guacamole dip" (i.e. mushy peas) lol:) Katie Re-Registered
  • Score: 8

4:57pm Sun 11 May 14

Magor says...

No matter what party they represent they can afford to eat what they want courtesy of the taxpayer.
No matter what party they represent they can afford to eat what they want courtesy of the taxpayer. Magor
  • Score: 5

4:58pm Sun 11 May 14

Magor says...

Katie Re-Registered wrote:
Btw...sorry to double post, but I always have to chuckle when I recall a documentary in which Neil Kinnock recounted the time he went canvassing up the valleys with Peter Mandelson and they stopped to have chips and mushy peas at a local café. After a thoroughly enjoyable meal, apparently Peter Mandelson complimented the owners profusely, adding that he particularly enjoyed the "guacamole dip" (i.e. mushy peas) lol:)
Yes I remember that one.Another Champagne Socialist.
[quote][p][bold]Katie Re-Registered[/bold] wrote: Btw...sorry to double post, but I always have to chuckle when I recall a documentary in which Neil Kinnock recounted the time he went canvassing up the valleys with Peter Mandelson and they stopped to have chips and mushy peas at a local café. After a thoroughly enjoyable meal, apparently Peter Mandelson complimented the owners profusely, adding that he particularly enjoyed the "guacamole dip" (i.e. mushy peas) lol:)[/p][/quote]Yes I remember that one.Another Champagne Socialist. Magor
  • Score: 5

10:29pm Sun 11 May 14

Bobevans says...

So the best coverage the South Wales Argus can offer is an article on the eating habits of Politicians
So the best coverage the South Wales Argus can offer is an article on the eating habits of Politicians Bobevans
  • Score: 0

10:32am Mon 12 May 14

Cymru Am Beth says...

Magor wrote:
Katie Re-Registered wrote:
Btw...sorry to double post, but I always have to chuckle when I recall a documentary in which Neil Kinnock recounted the time he went canvassing up the valleys with Peter Mandelson and they stopped to have chips and mushy peas at a local café. After a thoroughly enjoyable meal, apparently Peter Mandelson complimented the owners profusely, adding that he particularly enjoyed the "guacamole dip" (i.e. mushy peas) lol:)
Yes I remember that one.Another Champagne Socialist.
Yes they are all like (mushy) 'peas in a pod' when it comes to claiming expenses etc.
[quote][p][bold]Magor[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Katie Re-Registered[/bold] wrote: Btw...sorry to double post, but I always have to chuckle when I recall a documentary in which Neil Kinnock recounted the time he went canvassing up the valleys with Peter Mandelson and they stopped to have chips and mushy peas at a local café. After a thoroughly enjoyable meal, apparently Peter Mandelson complimented the owners profusely, adding that he particularly enjoyed the "guacamole dip" (i.e. mushy peas) lol:)[/p][/quote]Yes I remember that one.Another Champagne Socialist.[/p][/quote]Yes they are all like (mushy) 'peas in a pod' when it comes to claiming expenses etc. Cymru Am Beth
  • Score: 0

1:57pm Mon 12 May 14

Lliswerry Man says...

Excellent story Maria WIlliams, and well spotted. At least some are awake and aware. Unlike most Politicians and Councillors.
Excellent story Maria WIlliams, and well spotted. At least some are awake and aware. Unlike most Politicians and Councillors. Lliswerry Man
  • Score: 0

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