Gerhard’s blog: Vote rhubarb

The election is not far off, but Gerhard Jenne has just one piece of advice for the baking fraternity...

With the election looming, I’m wondering what the various parties have on offer for small businesses. So far, I have not picked up on that much, except for the sentiment that the Conservatives will create a business-friendly environment and keep corporation tax low (even though their proposed referendum on Europe is unpredictable in its effect), while Labour will save the NHS, get rid of zero-hour contracts, and raise the minimum wage.

This wage debate will hit us in the retail/catering/hospitality industry like a steam train. It feels the course of history is set for the minimum wage to go up, and that we have to better this by paying the living wage. At Konditor & Cook we would certainly like to be in a position to do so and are working towards it, but productivity levels will have to go up in order to do so and this is, for the industry at least, quite a cultural shift.

Since I am not a UK passport holder, I can’t actually vote in general elections. Even if I could, my vote would not make the slightest difference, since Vauxhall is a Labour stronghold and neither needs my vote nor would blink an eyelid if I voted for someone else. It’s just not enough of an incentive for me to go through the 32-page citizenship application for this.

And to be truthful, while I never feel particularly nationalistic, during election times I’m actually quite proud of the proportional representation voting system the Germans were given after World War 2. It is democratic and has held the country in good stead. The British first-past-the-post system seems to leave a large number disenfranchised: Is it any wonder that more and more people stay away from the polling booths?

The Germans get two votes: one for an MP and one for a political party. The Bundestag is then made up of directly voted-in members, as well as those who get in over their parties’ lists. This usually means that governments have to form a coalition, leading to compromises and balance along the way. It makes for a less “hot and cold” political climate and certainly lacks the humour on show in the Houses of Parliament.

When the presentation of party manifestos, however, sounds like the comedy hour, I just have one endorsement: “Vote Rhubarb”!

Yes, the vegetable that thinks it’s a fruit gets the Konditor & Cook vote. This year’s spring campaign is all about the pink-stemmed superfood. Our bakers have created four new rhubarb recipes. Let’s see how our customers will vote: a juicy Rhubarb Custard Muffin, a creamy Rhubarb Granola Pot, the guilt- (dairy- and wheat-) free Rhubarb St Clement Mini Bake, or the Rhubarb and Custard Pie topped with ginger crumble? One thing is for sure, for a tastier Britain — Vote Rhubarb!

www.konditorandcook.com

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