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UK Politics

Andy McSmith's Diary: It’s all about knowing your target (super) market, Dave


David Cameron picked an odd location to air his view that you are more likely to have an interesting conversation in Waitrose than any other supermarket. “I have got a piece of supermarket sociology, which is that there is something about Waitrose customers... they are the most talkative,” he told the staff today. “I found that if I shop in Waitrose it takes me about twice as long, as everyone wants to stop you and have a chat. Whereas in other supermarkets I find I can dart round very quickly and get everything. It is something about your customers, they are very talkative, engaged people.”

He said this during a visit to the North-west, presumably hoping to persuade people in that region to vote Tory. There are a lot of people living in the region, but very few Waitrose customers.

In Manchester, which has a population of more than half a million, there is one ‘Little Waitrose’. Within a 10-mile radius of central Manchester, there are two Waitrose superstores, one in Altrincham, the other in Cheadle, where Cameron made his comments. The nearest Waitrose to Liverpool city centre is  12 miles away, in Formby. You will not find a Waitrose in Oldham, Rochdale,  Bury, Bolton, Blackburn, Burnley, Stockport, Preston, Wigan or St Helens, to name but a few.

So by the David Cameron test, there are virtually no talkative, engaging supermarket customers in any of the major conurbations in the North?west. Great way to win support in the area.

Minister or manager?

In the wake of Cameron’s comment, other Tories have been anxious to make clear that they shop where the masses shop.

The Commons leader, Andrew Lansley, told MPs: “When I visited Tesco as a new MP, I was accosted by a shopper on the grounds that she recognised me. However, she thought that she recognised me as the manager because I was the only person there in a suit, and that I would therefore know where she could find her washing powder.”

Oh deer, what happened?

Sellafield, our oldest and most expensive nuclear plant, has two new  security fences.

Unfortunately, they were built on either side of the habitat of three roe deer that could not get out. What to do? The Whitehaven News reports that Sellafield Ltd have shot the deer.

An age-ALDE problem

The Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament have an awkward problem.

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) – the group which includes the Lib Dem MEPs – have one member in Austria, Angelika Werthmann, who has decided to run for re-election as a candidate of the Alliance for the Future of Austria. The Alliance was founded by the late Jorg Haider, a rabble-rousing Nazi sympathiser. The other members of ALDE have urged Werthmann to resign to spare them this embarrassing association, but she has refused.

A taxing start to his career

At the age of 24, 17 years ago, the current shadow treasury minister Chris Leslie was the nation’s youngest MP, whose previous job was to mind the photocopier in Gordon Brown’s office.

It now emerges that his political activism goes back even further, to when he was aged 16, and had his headteacher’s permission to go to Bradford Town Hall to watch the council set the Community Charge – or poll tax – for the first time. The leader of Bradford Council at the time was Eric Pickles. “In one of the News at Ten opening shots I was spotted throwing paper aeroplanes down at Eric Pickles,” Leslie tells The House magazine.