Thursday, January 05, 2006

Girly Tories

Ah, for the days of the manly Maggie! Britain's new Conservative leader is miffed with newstands over chocolate oranges:

WHSmith has defended selling cut-price chocolate after coming under attack from David Cameron.

The Conservative leader criticised the newsagent for promoting half-price chocolate oranges, saying they were contributing to Britain's obesity crisis.

Outlining a new Tory approach to health, Mr Cameron asked why WHSmith sold chocolate oranges instead of real ones.

The store said it was perplexed by Mr Cameron's comments, and added that it was offering its customers a choice as some of its stores now sold bananas and apples.

"We are slightly bemused by all this. Confectionery is a relatively small part of our business," said a spokesperson.

"We sell a wide range of products. Customers could buy chocolate or healthier alternatives such as cereal bars or fruit and nuts.

"Oranges are not that easy and our customers don't want them, but they might want chocolate oranges. They were very popular in the run-up to Christmas."

Mr Cameron had made the comments as he said businesses must play a part in promoting public health.

"Try and buy a newspaper at the train station and, as you queue to pay, you're surrounded by cut-price offers for giant chocolate bars," he said. "The check-out staff have all been trained to push this product, whatever the customer is actually trying to buy.

"Why? As Britain faces an obesity crisis, why does WHSmith promote half-price chocolate oranges at its check-outs instead of real oranges?

"So many consumer businesses could do more to promote healthy diets and lifestyles. It simply requires corporate responsibility to be matched by marketing creativity."

Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, criticised Mr Cameron in a newspaper interview, saying the Tory leader "understands nothing about nothing".

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