Imagine the scene. David Cameron is chill axing in his study at Downing Street. He has just finished a challenging hour of zapping angry birds and has given up trying to slice those pesky coconuts on Fruit Ninja. His PPS pours him another refreshing glass of General Galtieri 1981.
“I say Sam, this Owen Paterson fellow, what’s he actually for?” A frown passes over the handsome ebonied features of the young Oxford graduate destined for higher things. Perhaps one day he would be a parliamentary under secretary in the Welsh Office. Such dreams. But back to the matter in hand.
Paterson? The name did ring a bell. Not that heartthrob vampire? No,no. Hang on, wasn’t he the PPS to Iain Duncan Smith who Cameron had to give a job to to keep the right wing happy? Of course,he’s a bit dim, so he was put in Northern Ireland as he couldn’t do too much harm and then things got a bit iffy and was reshuffled into DEFRA to replace someone even dimmer but was there to keep the quota of women round the cabinet table about right. And then the bloody woman decided to to sell off our forests to the French but forgot to tell us. Jesus!
“I remember”, says Cameron. “He’s the chap who is supposed to keep an eye on what people eat. Didn’t he tell the Daily Mail that he would happily eat a horse, that he is an omnivore and would eat absolutely anything? For God’s sake stop him going on the telly chomping on some pony burger. And don’t let him go to Korea.” The thought of the twerp tucking into puppy fricassee was too much for the Prime Minister. What would the Chipping Norton Pony Club think?
“Best not let him go to China either, I think they eat babies out there. The WI wouldn’t approve at all.
And Sam just tell him to actually do something about our food being contaminated.”
Now O.Patz can’t help being a hoof short of the full horse, but he does have some very bright advisors. What on earth has he being doing since his appointment in September? DEFRA knew there was contamination of the food supply way back in March 2012. You’d have thought they would have asked some very searching questions of the Foods Standard Agency, told them to get grip and perhaps slip in a statutory instrument on a wet Thursday night (nobody would have noticed) to give them more powers.
And what about the big supermarkets? Did anyone call them in, tell them to check and double check how their meat was sourced? Did any officials start inspecting slaughter houses? God knows. It all sounds horribly complacent.
I have a sinking feeling that ministers were terrified of what would happen to the meat industry if this ever came out. They all remember Edwina and eggs and shudder. Yet at least she told the truth.
Most depressing of all is this is just another breach of trust. Can we be sure what we are eating? Do we know what is in our food? Can we be certain that it is safe? I just don’t know.
I suspect that everyone has been so obsessed with salt, fat, sugar and obesity that eyes were taken off the ball. Two years ago it would have been unthinkable to suggest that meat from some drugged up horse could appear in our lasagne. Just how long has this been going on?
And don’t blame the recession and the need for cheap food. The line, which is a gross insult to the poor, that if you pay a few pence for a sausage don’t be surprised if it contains a load of crap. This is fraud and complacency with the whiff of cover up. And it is a national disgrace.
So yet another institution has joined the sorry list of MPs, bankers, the church and the NHS who have lost the public trust. No wonder people are so cynical.
And as for omnivore Paterson? Well, the bloody man better keep away from my cats.