Sketch: Harriet Harman’s Chicken Run

At a committee today, Harriet Harman questioned why “if you buy an egg in a supermarket, you can know whether a chicken has had a happy life, but you can’t know whether an employee is being treated correctly”. Quite right, Ms Harman, quite right. Quite what this had to do with flexible working rights is beside the point, perhaps why the committee seemed bemused.

But Ms Harman’s hit on a very important point. We have just as much right to know what goes into those who make our food as the food itself. Where are the labels informing us that Jeff, 34, packed your value chicken breast, and was able himself to graze free in the fields?

Finally, a government in favour of real transparency. But how far will they go?

Will this Government have the guts to publish the medical records of all those involved in the food chain? The farmer had irritable bowel syndrome? Hmm, best steer clear of those chicken wings.

Now Harriet Harman came to the committee to discuss her equality bill, and press the case for equality in the workplace. But the press got distracted by Dave Cameron’s own principled stand/gaffe (delete as applicable).

Yes, the Tories are revolting, but Ms Harman already knew that no doubt. David Cameron said to a committee that not only did he want to get more women MPs into a Parliament, but he was going to actively change the selection system to achieve this. That’s not Conservatism, Cameron!

Cue the sqwaking of a grassroots rebellion, the Tory hens are hatching a plan, perhaps a coup (groan). Female candidates should be selected on merit alone they say … just like Julie Kirkbride (that lady who double claimed £170,000 with her hubbie, among other things)*

So I’ll say this: any system which has selected many current MPs who ruthlessly plundered parliamentary allowances, shouldn’t stay. So even if it is skewed to select only women, chances are the current system would select the wrong one. Open primaries are the way forwards, as long as parties can figure out how to pay for them (perhaps do more online?). But the current system mustn’t stay, as sure as eggs is eggs.

*I find I classify most MPs now by their expenses, e.g. Gordon Brown (“£12 grand for cleaning”), David Cameron (“wisteria chap”), Nick Clegg (“who?”, “you know, the Lib Dem guy”, “thought that was still Paddy Ashdown”).

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