The Political Price of a Pinta

A slightly longer (and less politically neutral) version of this morning's Thought for the Day on Good Morning Ulster.
"Two posh boys who don't know the price of milk". 
A splendid soundbite slapdown of our Prime Minister and his mate next door, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. which was only surprising in that it came from an MP from their own party, Nadine Dorries.
She went on to say
"they are two arrogant posh boys who show no remorse, no contrition, and no passion to want to understand the lives of others – and that is their real crime."
This then prompted laughable comments by David Cameron defending his man of the people persona by saying
"‘I go to Sainsbury’s in Chipping Norton on a Friday or a Saturday. I do a lot of the family shopping. Sam does a lot of it on the internet." 
Before asserting that he pays just under 50p per pint.
But this is no more about the price of a pint of milk any more than the great Cornish pastie debate was about where he did or didn't buy the said hot snack. It is about a whole slough of policies that seem to be implemented without any thought for how most people outside the Cabinet live. "We're all in this together" they claim, but it just doesn't ring true.
Mind you, I did find myself asking why knowing the price of milk is a seen as a sign of being grounded or being capable of governing us with wisdom and compassion. There are plenty of people I know who could tell me the price of every item on their weekly shopping list, who I wouldn’t trust to run a coffee morning, never mind a country.
Yet the price of a pint of milk, or should that be litre in this day and age, seems to be the ultimate mark of the man or woman with his finger on the pulse of the person on the modern equivalent of the Clapham omnibus… It even seems to be an international phenomenon, with both George Bush Senior and Rudy Giuliani being embarrassed by their inability to answer a similar question accurately when on their respective campaign trails.
Milk has been a bit of a political hot potato at other times, to mix my metaphors… Margaret Thatcher was famously described as Thatcher the milk snatcher, after she withdrew the provision of free milk in the schools of England and Wales during her time as Education Secretary. Then later the proverbial “butter mountains and milk lakes” were cited as signs of the economic profligacy of the European Common Agricultural Policy.
Actually in the Bible, a similar image is used when the land promised to God’s people is repeatedly described as “flowing with milk and honey”- a land where all are blessed with plenty, not just the rich or the powerful or the privately educated.
Their worst critics may suggest that Cameron and Osborne are more likely to know the price of a bottle of wine than a bottle of milk… But again, in Isaiah we’re offered a picture where both cost the same; where God invites people to come to him saying “Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”
Our earthly leaders, of whatever political hue, may not really know the costs that you and I face each day… But I believe in a God who has provided enough for all… and wants us, not to focus on the price of a pint of milk… but the value of each and every person…

And by the way… milk costs £1 for two litres in the shop round the corner from me… 



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