John Woodhouse: Look out for David Cameron selling oatcakes in Hanley
I WAS pleased to see how popular oatcakes are among politicians. First the Prime Minister tucked in at a recent Staffordshire food event in Westminster, and now Chris Huhne has asked for several dozen to soundproof his cell.
Few people realise David Cameron has actually long been a fan of the foodstuff (I'm loath to describe an oatcake as a delicacy. A crêpe is a delicacy. If an oatcake and a crêpe had a wrestling match, the oatcake would have the crêpe in a headlock within the first 15 seconds).
In 2009, prior to becoming Prime Minister, Cameron told mumsnet, an online chat site for mothers who think they're too posh for Loose Women, "I like oatcakes with butter and cheese". Although my suspicion is behind closed doors he probably prefers them with cygnet paté.
It should be pointed out that Nick Clegg also said he liked oatcakes before the election but then reneged on the attachment once in Coalition.
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MPs including Stoke-on-Trent representatives Joan Walley and Tristram Hunt were among those who attended the Parliamentary food festival, thankfully getting there just before Nicholas Soames.
Whether Ed Milliband went along is unclear. Possibly he was overshadowed by a cheeseboard.
The event confirmed the oatcake as one of the best connected regional concoctions in the country. It's amazing how often you read Q&As with celebrities and they mention a love of them, even if it is as a facemask.
The question now is how the oatcake industry can use the Prime Minister's avowed adoration to its advantage. My personal view is it should put pressure on Cameron to take a batch with him to the next G8 summit. Not so much to spread the message of their deliciousness, more to clog up Angela Merkel.
It seems to me the oatcake is on to a winner. It's one of those rare foodstuffs that, while essentially a working class thing – we've all heard tales of them being cooked on shovels in pot ovens, or under the driers in back street hair salons – has accrued a loyal following among the toff community.
Jocasta and Jeremy just can't get enough of them. They tick all the boxes for culturally 'cool' north London types – healthy, versatile, and allowing them to look like they've got an affinity with the proletariat, even if they have got a Filipino slave in the loft.
These days you might even spot oatcakes in Waitrose when you nip in to see what it might be like to eat on a six-figure salary.
Of course, Cameron allying himself with the oatcake is unlikely to shield him from annihilation at the next General Election.
My feeling is he'll plump for something more populist, like free Greggs vouchers for the over-65s.
Even so, I can't help feeling his next public appearance after May 7, 2015, will be behind a griddle outside the Potteries Shopping Centre on National Oatcake Day.
In the meantime, perhaps the PM could do the oatcake one last favour by taking along a few to his weekly meeting with Her Majesty.
It wouldn't do her any harm to get back to some uncomplicated sustenance after her recent digestive difficulties.
Although I accept a single oatcake isn't that visually mesmerising when revealed by a butler from beneath a cloche.
Whether other Prime Ministers would have backed the oatcake is open to question. I find it unlikely that Margaret Thatcher would have liked them. Like most robots, she rarely ate.
Blair, though, was a big fan. He used to buy them by the truckload. Not for eating. Cherie used them to apply her make-up.