Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Compassionate conservatism is alive and well in Bexley

Tory councillors in Bexley have voted down a motion to become a Fair Trade borough.

The beauty of this piece is in the detail: the reference to 'the Third World' and 'far off lands'; the belief that buying fairtrade coffee, cocoa and tea will bring down the UK dairy farming industry...

I've never knowingly been to Bexley, but with 51 Tory councillors I think it's safe to assume that, economic downturn or no economic downturn, its residents can afford a cup of Fairtrade coffee or a bar of Divine chocolate every now and then.

8 comments:

paul.cotterill said...

and tories in Wycombe and West Lancs. see http://www.bickerstafferecord.org.uk/?p=511

Kerry said...

Thanks - doesn't that 'unless it's cheaper' just sum it up?!

Bristol Dave said...

Just out of interest, what does being a "Fair Trade" borough consist of? I always assumed that if shops (e.g. The Co-Operative) wanted to stock and sell Fair Trade products they were able to?

I understand and have no objection to the principle of Fair Trade products available (though I don't buy Fair Trade products myself) but don't particularly support the Fair Trade Foundation after reading their accounts.

Kerry said...

It's about council procurement, and promoting it. Not obligatory on shops, etc.

http://www.bristolfairtradenetwork.org.uk/bristol/fairtrade.html

Bristol Dave said...

Fair enough. Fair Trade teabags (for example) might be slightly more expensive than normal ones but I have no problem with the Council buying them instead, there's far worse areas of wastage than a couple of hundred pounds a year extra on teabags.

I'll still buy my £3 jeans though.

paul.cotterill said...

A senior Tory at the Council meeting I attended, where Labour's proposal for Fairtrade status was voted down justified the decision primarily on the basis that he 'didn't like the taste' of the coffee.

Another one said he'd once been to Zambia once, and that therefore he knew free trade was the answer.

I used to work in Tanzania where the groundnuts grown as cash crops were 10 hours from the nearest paved road, suggesting that basic country infrastructure might just have something to do with the whole thing, and that it might be just a teency bit more complex than 'free trade'.

But that was less important, when it came to the vote, than the fact that he'd once been to Zambia.

I'd been a councillor two months. The experience firmed up my resolve.

Bugledog said...

This reminds me of those 'nuclear free boroughs' so beloved of the loony left in the 80s. I'm sure Bristol is wonderfully fairtrade and ethical in everything it does thanks to your campaigns....

Stuart said...

As ever Kerry, it's a bit more complicated than that!

The environmental development criteria are intended to ensure that the producer organisation and its members protect the natural environment and make environmental protection an integral part of farm management. There are clear rules to protect farmers and workers relating to the use of chemicals, disposal of waste, and protection of natural resources. The standard also prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms. Where socially and economically practical, producer organisations are encouraged to work towards organic practices. They are also expected to minimise the use of chemical fertilisers and insecticides and to gradually replace them with natural fertilisers and biological methods of disease control. (from the FairTrade web site).

It's not just about 'fair trade'. It's about politics.