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Page last updated at 09:26 GMT, Thursday, 29 March 2012 10:26 UK

Pasty row 'a storm in a teacake'

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A row over David Cameron's pasty tax this week has highlighted how food can be such dangerous ground for a politician.

Simon Hoggart, sketch writer for the Guardian, said that a story about Peter Mandelson referring to mushy peas as guacamole was invented by Neil Kinnock but "the story stuck because people wanted to believe the story even if it was not true".

Edwina Currie, former Conservative government minister, said that while most of the population cannot relate to fiscal deficits, "they can cope with a pasty".

On whether talking about food sends signals about class, Simon Hoggart remembered how Tony Benn served sandwiches at meetings with trade union leaders but switched to macaroni and cheese after he was advised that people expected a hot meal.

He noted how Jeffrey Archer's shepherds pie cooked by a chef sent the mixed signals of being a "man of the people" while at the same time being very rich.

Edwina Currie said that while the government was making a serious point about protecting restaurants from VAT but this issue is just a "tea-cake" and should be laughed off.

Simon Hoggart's advice to politicians was to "steer clear [on food] if you possibly can".


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