Too much made of Vaz tweet
Leicester East MP Keith Vaz has this week found himself under attack for allegedly being "sexist" in a Twitter post. Speaking of Theresa May, he observed: "A bit worried about Home Secretary she is looking a bit thin these days. A new diet or pressure of work?" The post has subsequently been deleted.
Tory MP Caroline Nokes, speaking on BBC Radio 4's PM programme, said that if it had been a male Home Secretary who had lost weight nobody would have commented.
"I think it was sexist because the insinuation of the remark that Keith very unfortunately put on Twitter was about a woman who, he has suggested through his comments, is losing weight through the pressure of work," she said.
We would remind Ms Nokes, who chairs the all-party group on body image, of former Chancellor Nigel Lawson's dramatic weight loss some years ago which was widely covered in the media and commented upon at the time.
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In the interests of disclosure, this opinion column is written by a man. But having consulted with female journalists at the Mercury, our view is that Ms Nokes has made too much of Mr Vaz's remark and that very few people would have construed it in the way that she has done.
The horse meat scandal is, of course, an absolute outrage and what has happened is completely unacceptable. There are many issues to be resolved about who is exactly responsible and the robustness of the testing regime.
However, there is a wider point which is highlighted in our story on page eight today. Customers are increasingly turning to traditional butchers as they seek the reassurance of buying meat which is sourced closer to home rather than through supply chains stretched out across Europe.
The National Farmers' Union has been urging people to buy British, buy local and support UK producers of high-quality meat. If habits change in this direction it would be a good outcome.
Locally produced meat sold locally is not only more reassuring to consumers but also supports British businesses and reduces wasteful travel and the carbon emissions it produces.