Leading article: Nation of shopkeepers

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The Independent Online

Move over Jamie Oliver. Sainsbury's has a new public advocate in the shape of the much-married South African President, Jacob Zuma. State visits don't normally include trips to supermarkets. But then, for good or ill, Mr Zuma is no normal head of state.

And Mr Zuma is on to something. Never mind the Buckingham Palace banquets, the Downing Street press conferences, the Westminster meet-and-greets: every state visit ought to include a trip to a British retailer. It should be considered an essential part of the UK cultural experience. Are we not, after all, a nation of shopkeepers? Nor should the field be limited to the swankier outlets. Let Argos and Primark have their moment in the sun.

The visiting VIPs will certainly receive some superior gifts. Mr Zuma left Sainsbury's with a bag containing some English mustard, chutney and jam. Let's just hope there was enough in the goody bag to please all the wives back home.