Pork to salad, politicians brought down by food


In recent times, politicians have found their reputations contaminated by one of humanity’s fundamental needs: food. Is it a modern trend of political mudslinging where food has become the stickiest mud, or is this a more long running difficulty? 

The most recent politician who has found his reputation reaching its sell by date has been the Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab. The food? Tomatoes. Accused of throwing three Pret A Manger tomatoes in a ‘fit of rage’ back in June, he began a tirade, opened his Pret salad and threw three tomatoes into a bag across the table making a loud noise.’ This was amongst the allegations which led to him revealing that he has ‘asked the prime minister to set up an independent investigation, and of course I will comply with it fully’, painting a dim picture of the new age of accountability and ‘restoring trust’ that the Prime Minister wished to bring in. But Dominic Raab’s tomatoes are not the first salad-related quirk of the post-Boris Conservative party. Liz Truss got brought down by a lettuce. Whilst the crisis of her government was not related to the Daily Star’s live streamed lettuce, the fact it beat her to an expiry date will no doubt be a punchline epitomising the chaos of her premiership, and makes me wonder, what salad item will tarnish a Tory next? 

2022 saw other food items bring politicians into controversy, and not just Conservatives. Keir Starmer staked his position as Labour leader over a beer and a curry back in May, with ‘beergate’ hanging over him as ‘partygate’ did over Boris Johnson, although less severely. Ultimately, Durham police did not issue Starmer with a fine over the beer and curry he had whilst campaigning in 2021, but it did hang around him like the stench of rotten fruit, if you’ll excuse the pun. ‘Beergate’ seemed to emerge as an attempt to paint the Labour party in the same light as the Conservatives found themselves in after ‘partygate’ broke as a story, where the fine issued to Johnson also involved food. The former PM was ‘ambushed by cake’ at an apparently impromptu birthday party held in the height of the Covid-19 lockdown of 2020. The cake did not prove as fatal to his premiership as the lettuce did to Liz, but it was one of many blows which led to his resignation in the summer of 2022, feels longer ago now, doesn’t it? 

This recent cadre of politicians aren’t the first this century to be negatively impacted by food; who can forget the porcine exploits of former leaders? David Cameron’s relations with a pig are still infamous, with ‘David Cameron pig’ the first search google suggests seven years on from ‘piggate’ where he was alleged to have placed certain parts of his anatomy into a dead pig’s mouth back in his uni days. Pork products were also an Achilles heel for his Labour rival, Ed Miliband. The picture of him eating a bacon sandwich became an internet meme back in 2014, and even though he is still a member of the shadow cabinet, he is still associated with the weird way he ate it. 

This decade, pairs of politicians at the top of government have had their reputations sullied by a certain food. From, pork to food in lockdown to salad, will salad claim another victim? Or now that salad has struck two, will another sort of food spell out another political injury? Only time will tell.


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