London Diary: Indian chefs much in demand in England, where nobody now wants to be an MP!

The 2009 MPs’ expenses scandal, which saw MPs across party lines being accused of forging their official expenses bills, contributed much to undermining trust in the political class

London Diary: Indian chefs much in demand in England, where nobody now wants to be an MP!
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Hasan Suroor

“Want to be an MP?”

Try and put this question to Brits and the chances are that you would be greeted with a cold stare, and a polite but firm “no”.

It’s a measure of how much public trust in politics and politicians has fallen that only one in five Britons want to become an MP.

Even the prospect of becoming prime minister doesn’t enthuse them with only 13 percent wanting to lead the country. Forget ordinary people, even incumbent politicians are quitting politics.

Some of Britain’s longest-serving MPs have announced plans to leave Parliament for good. Among them are several former Labour ministers including veterans such as Harriet Harman, who has been an MP since 1982; Margaret Hodge, a former minister in the Blair and Brown governments, and Ben Bradshaw, a former culture secretary.

The 2009 MPs’ expenses scandal, which saw MPs across party lines being accused of forging their official expenses bills, contributed much to undermining trust in the political class.

Then came the divisive Brexit campaign and, more recently, the “partygate” scandal relating to parties held in Downing Street in breach of Covid lockdown rules. Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself was found guilty of breaking rules he himself had laid down for the rest of the country.

Any surprise then that politicians are held in such contempt?

Wanted: chefs from India

There’s good news for Indian chefs looking for greener pastures abroad. An acute shortage of trained cooks in the wake of Brexit and Covid has prompted British restaurants to attract culinary talent from overseas. And, apparently, they are particularly keen on chefs from India and South Africa with some tourist resorts reported to be willing to pay thousands of pounds in salaries and perks.

“Perks of some jobs include £85,000 salaries, £5,000 sign-on bonuses, family holidays and even puppy ‘settle-in’ days,” The Times reported.

One holiday resort hotel in Wales has hired five chefs from India this year — each chef costing him £5,000 to £7,000 in visas, travel and recruitment fees. Its owner said he was left with no choice after only two local candidates turned up in response to a recruitment drive.

“People believe that we’re trying to bring people from overseas because it’s cheaper. That is not the case at all, we pay the same wages. By the time you have paid the agency fees and the fees to the Home Office for the sponsorship licences it works out a lot more expensive to do it this way,” he said.

And guess what? To make the best of use of his new Indian recruits, he has decided to launch an Indian curry menu!


An ‘inclusive’ Bank of England

Bye, bye England, welcome Great Britain.

For the first time in its history, the Bank of England has dropped the English flag of St George’s Cross from its logo and replaced it with the Union Jack. St George’s Cross had featured on the Bank’s logo since its founding in 1694.

The change has been prompted by its desire to appear to be more inclusive. It said its new logo reflected its “current mission and values”. But it has been accused of having a “bizarre sense of priorities”. Anne Sibert, professor of economics at Birkbeck, University of London, said she thought the Bank had “more pressing matters”.

“It is true that the new logo is more inclusive, but I find it less artistically appealing and it erases a bit of history.”

Another economist, Ruth Lea, said: “It does all seem rather a waste of money.”

“Inclusive”, anyone?

Dogs go vegan

The old saying about teaching an old dog new tricks is to be put to a new test: converting puppies to veganism with the good old bone giving way to tofu and soy broth.

British researchers claim to have found that dogs are not averse to veganism (a blood hound is apparently equally at home with a mushroom steak as a beef one) and that a good vegan diet could cut down their risk of ill health by as much as a third.

A study claimed to be the largest of its kind found that Vegan diets are healthier and safer for dogs than conventional meat-based diets provided they are nutritionally wholesome. It followed the diet and health of more than 2,500 dogs over a period of one year using surveys completed by their owners. They were assessed on indicators such as health, number of visits to the vets, and several common illnesses.

“The researchers found that, for example, almost half the dogs fed conventional meat-based diets required non-routine medication but only a third of the dogs fed vegan diets did so,” The Guardian reported.

Vegan pet food industry estimated to worth £7 billion is expanding and is expected to double by the end of the decade. It’s the money, stupid!


And, lastly, 56 British MPs, including three cabinet ministers and two shadow cabinet ministers, have been referred to the parliamentary watchdog over allegations of sexual misbehaviour.

(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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