The year is 1971. The young wear jeans that flare wider than nostrils smelling flowers on a summer’s day. ABBA songs blast from the radio. Margaret Thatcher walks into parliament and stops providing free milk for junior school pupils. “Thatcher, Thatcher, milk snatcher,” the nation cries, looking at their white specked nails in dismay. And so begins a parliamentary obsession with milk that will span decades.
And he is by far not the only politician to drone on about dairy in the chamber. We’ve analysed the 5000 most recent mentions of the term “milk” in parliament to present the five MPs who will not shut up about it.
The MP least likely to suffer from lactose intolerance is Tory George Eustice who is responsible for some 23 per cent (114) mentions of the dairy product. As Eustice is the Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), milk definitely is a key part of his portfolio and so we cannot blame him too much for giving it a shout out. Last year, he announced a £1 million campaign to promote milk and the milk trade which is, however, overkill.
George Eustice says: "We don’t rule out some kind of hardship payments.". Says about 730 of the 9,000 dairy farmers… https://t.co/hPTOPUNf2o
James Paice is also getting more than enough calcium in his diet. The former MP mentioned milk 107 times during his career which also involved a stint in Eustice’s job and he used to be a farmer. However, in 2012 Paice fell victim to a classic political tripwire and admitted he did not know how much a pint of milk cost. Nevertheless, the following year he was appointed chairman of the Glasgow-based First Milk farmer’s cooperative on an annual salary of £125,000. Having to work just one day a week in this role, it’s safe to say Paice milked it for all it was worth.
59 mentions of milk were made by SNP politician Richard Lochhead, who has also worked in DEFRA. He has advocated for dairy farmers in the EU and called on people to buy Scottish milk during his parliamentary career.
Made with 100% Scottish milk! New #dairy brand launched @ #Anuga in Cologne for international market #cheese #butter http://t.co/mfQjepWUQo
This former doctor must know the nutritional value of milk and has talked about it 57 times in the commons. While working as a health minister, he was also in part responsible for providing milk to nursery school children. Poulter is now a backbench MP.
Like Walker, DUP MP Jim Shannon believes milk has symbolic value. In one of his 57 mentions of the drink, in February this year, he complained that an uplift to maternity pay would not pay for a litre of milk. We’d be inclined to believe Shannon on all things financial. In 2015 he claimed more expenses than any other MP - £205,798’s worth.
You might say some of the politicians are, er, milking it.