Politics is inserting itself into meat this week – and I’m not just talking about Lord Ashcroft’s allegations about the Prime Minister’s student antics.
Jeremy Corbyn's new vegan shadow farming minister Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East, has issued a bizarre edict in which she claims that the government should brand meat a danger to our health.
“I really believe that meat should be treated in exactly the same way as tobacco, with public campaigns to stop people eating it,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy, a committed vegan, is set for a bruising relationship with farmers over her oddball views.
She further told vegan magazine Vivalife:
"Progress on animal welfare is being made at EU level... but in the end it comes down to not eating meat or dairy. The constant challenging of the environmental impact of livestock farming is making me more and more militant."
A farming minister who is a vegan is like an Archbishop of Canterbury who is an atheist."
It’s hard to see how someone with such extreme views, and a stated militant mission, could have anything other than a toxic relationship with the farmers she is expected to work with.
Labour’s need to re-engage with rural communities is hardly going to be helped by a shadow farming minister who says that low milk prices are “down to supply and demand”.
She said: "Too much milk is being produced and if you live by the market you have to risk dying by the market.”
Doesn’t sound very Corbynist, does it?
Leaving aside the politics and the farmers, what about McCarthy’s views themselves? The idea that meat should be treated like tobacco - with public health campaigns and, presumably, punitive taxes - is simply lunatic.
The large majority of people think, rightly, that veganism in and of itself is an unwise diet, lacking as it is in nutrients and flavour.
To have a farming minister who is a vegan seems, as one BBC Radio listener put it after McCarthy’s appearance on Thursday, “Like having an Archbishop of Canterbury who is an atheist”.
With Christian church attendance declining, perhaps in a few generations, we won’t have a choice.
Really, all the Labour Party had to do this week to score a massive win is just enjoy the hilarious fall-out from Ashcroft’s revelations and respond to any question about policy, image or Corbyn’s political friends with “Yeah, but at least we haven’t had relations with a pig. Thank you and goodnight.”
Personally, I’d offer the same advice to both shadow minister McCarthy and Prime Minister Cameron: when it comes to meat, keep it zipped.
This article reflects the opinions of the writer, not any corporate view held by BT.