Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Answer to US obesity epidemic? Haggis


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Lamenting that “not everyone fully understands the haggis,” Lord Purvis of Tweed today cited the story of a Burns supper which took place in Germany. The deathless description “Great chieftain o’ the puddin’ race,” he explained, was “translated into German and then retranslated back as ‘Mighty führer of the sausage people’.”

It was such disrespectful nonsense, Lib Dem Lord Tweed implied, that had led to the “ridiculous” US ban on Scotland’s national delicacy. He therefore urged Environment minister Lord de Mauley to send an “urgent message” to Washington urging David Cameron to ensure his visit was a “triumph” by “having a private word with the President” to get it lifted. 

The issue was raised by the Tory Lord McColl, an eminent surgeon, who charged that the ban was “depriving 24 million American Scots of this wholesome food, which satisfies hunger very much more than the junk food the Americans consume. It would help to deal with... the obesity epidemic, which is killing millions [and] costing billions.” Though sympathetic, Lord de Mauley, held out little hope of a “rapid resolution” largely because of American “unwillingness to recognise animal lungs as an acceptable foodstuff. The most promising avenue in the short term is the production of haggis omitting the inclusion of lung.”

A sassenach dissident, Lord Winston, said he was surprised that a fellow medic should  be throwing his clinical weight behind a “questionable” food which “I personally find revolting”. But his was a lone voice.

Indeed, the former Tory minister Lord Forsyth proposed “a special envoy with energy and imagination to go to the United States and stay there until this matter is resolved.” What about Alex Salmond, who was “currently looking for work”? Lord de Mauley thought this an “eminently sensible suggestion”.

What a coup it would be for Cameron, though, if at their joint press conference today Barack Obama announced that he was lifting the 1971 ban. Sadly, it appears, in their Scottish lordships’ dreams.