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Last Updated: Friday, 17 March 2006, 09:14 GMT
North West: Fair Trade
Steve Rawling
The Politics Show North West

Coffee harvest
Fairtrade ensures farmers are paid a fair price

How many light bulbs does it take to change a politician? All the main parties are vying to outdo each other embracing the touchy-feely issues of modern politics.

Keen to stress his green credentials, Tony Blair installed a low-energy light bulb outside Number 10.

The Lib Dems new leader Ming Campbell has dumped his gas-guzzling Jaguar.

Meanwhile David Cameron now insists that the tea, coffee and biscuits at Tory HQ are all Fair Trade.

Is this a genuine change of heart by our leaders, or simply a recognition of the fact that single-issue politics are now more attractive for many people than party allegiances?

The North West has pioneered the recent expansion of the Fair Trade movement. Garstang near Lancaster became the country's first ever Fair Trade town five years ago.

It means Fair Trade products are readily available in its shops, school and workplaces.

In March 2006, Cumbria qualified as a Fair Trade County, and Lancashire began getting its bid together - the ultimate goal is to get the whole of the North West certified as a fair trade region.

Five years ago, buying these products was a bit of a luxury for those who had money and a social conscience.

Today you can find them on any supermarket shelf. And it is big business.

In 2004 consumers spent some 25bn on ethical goods and services.

There are currently more than 1500 fair trade products on the market - you can even get ethical socks from some high street stores.

But is Fair Trade here to stay, or will consumers go back to buying cheap when the UK economy hits its next rough patch?

And are the politicians who are so keen to stress their Fair Trade credentials just jumping on a bandwagon?

The Politics Show

Join Kevin Bocquet and Gill Dummigan on the Politics Show on Sunday 26 March 2006 at 12.30pm on BBC One.

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SEE ALSO:
'First Fairtrade Town' celebrates
09 Mar 06 |  Lancashire
Diocese embraces Fairtrade status
27 Feb 05 |  Lancashire
Cities win Fairtrade recognition
05 Mar 04 |  Merseyside
North West
11 Sep 05 |  Politics Show


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