Friday, July 08, 2005

The Great Harborough Cheesecake Scandal

Here is today's House Points column from Liberal Democrat News. You can find more details of that estimable organ here.

Making a cake of it

This week all right-thinking people are up in arms about the Market Harborough cheesecake. But first we have to deal with something less important: the Conservative Party.

On Monday they initiated two debates, and used the first to attack us over local income tax. As Phil Woolas suggested, the title of the debate should have been “The Cheadle by-election’ as that was what the Tories really had in mind.

But they must have been disappointed with the outcome. Their main speakers – Caroline Spelman and Sir John Butterfill – were poor, and not just because Butterfill™ sounds like a synthetic cake mix. If the 2005 Tory intake is as impressive as they claim, the sooner they get some of them on the front bench the better.

Worse for them, the Tories have lost all credibility on local taxation. They fought the last election on a blend of inertia and cowardice: committed to keeping the council tax but promising to cancel the revaluation of properties. As far as you can tell, this is still their policy. And it leaves them sounding less like a potential government than ever.

The Tories’ second debate was on regulation. Norman Lamb quoted a select committee report as saying the challenges UK industry faces also include “skills and training, R&D and technology transfer, the supply of capital for investment, and narrowing the productivity gap with our competitors”

Yet this time we supported the Tories, which showed the right instinct. For a party which stands for freedom, we Lib Dems can be terribly keen on new controls. I don’t have a copy of our last manifesto to hand, but I seem to recall we came out in favour of microchipping goldfish.

Had Norman known about The Great Harborough Cheesecake Scandal he might have made an even more telling point.

Here in the lush Welland valley we have been enjoying this delicacy – a pastry case filled with curds and sultanas – since the 19th century. But no longer.

Leicestershire trading standards has told a local baker that, under the the Food Labelling Regulations of 1996, it can no longer be called a cheesecake. A fine of £5000 was mentioned.

So as we tuck into our newly christened Harborough curdcakes, we remember who was in power in 1996.

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