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Why the Sun’s “Halal Secret of Pizza Express” isn’t a secret at all

This morning, the paper has splashed with a story about the chain serving halal chicken, but having been reported last year and detailed on the Pizza Express website, it’s already in the public domain. 

The Sun has ended up with egg on its face with its splash this morning, claiming to reveal exclusively that the restaurant chain Pizza Express serves only halal chicken. 

But there’s just one thing (aside from the ludicrously alarmist tone of a story conjured up to give diners a slice of Islamophobia): it’s not a secret.

The Guardian reported last year that Pizza Express uses halal-approved chicken, as did the Independent, which reported: “Restaurant chains that are changing their menus include Pizza Express, which uses only halal chicken.”

And the chain itself, in the FAQs on its website, says:

All our restaurants serve pork, beef and chicken. All our chicken is Halal approved but it is important to note that all birds are stunned before being slaughtered. Our chicken supplier is accredited by the British Retail Consortium. This means it meets the global standard for food safety and legality. 
 

So to vaguely rephrase the old dilemma: which came first, the halal chicken in the Sun, or the truth, everywhere else?

Well, at least we know where the egg ended up. 

I'm a mole, innit.

Photo: Getty
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Who will win in Manchester Gorton?

Will Labour lose in Manchester Gorton?

The death of Gerald Kaufman will trigger a by-election in his Manchester Gorton seat, which has been Labour-held since 1935.

Coming so soon after the disappointing results in Copeland – where the seat was lost to the Tories – and Stoke – where the party lost vote share – some overly excitable commentators are talking up the possibility of an upset in the Manchester seat.

But Gorton is very different to Stoke-on-Trent and to Copeland. The Labour lead is 56 points, compared to 16.5 points in Stoke-on-Trent and 6.5 points in Copeland. (As I’ve written before and will doubtless write again, it’s much more instructive to talk about vote share rather than vote numbers in British elections. Most of the country tends to vote in the same way even if they vote at different volumes.)

That 47 per cent of the seat's residents come from a non-white background and that the Labour party holds every council seat in the constituency only adds to the party's strong position here. 

But that doesn’t mean that there is no interest to be had in the contest at all. That the seat voted heavily to remain in the European Union – around 65 per cent according to Chris Hanretty’s estimates – will provide a glimmer of hope to the Liberal Democrats that they can finish a strong second, as they did consistently from 1992 to 2010, before slumping to fifth in 2015.

How they do in second place will inform how jittery Labour MPs with smaller majorities and a history of Liberal Democrat activity are about Labour’s embrace of Brexit.

They also have a narrow chance of becoming competitive should Labour’s selection turn acrimonious. The seat has been in special measures since 2004, which means the selection will be run by the party’s national executive committee, though several local candidates are tipped to run, with Afzal Khan,  a local MEP, and Julie Reid, a local councillor, both expected to run for the vacant seats.

It’s highly unlikely but if the selection occurs in a way that irritates the local party or provokes serious local in-fighting, you can just about see how the Liberal Democrats give everyone a surprise. But it’s about as likely as the United States men landing on Mars any time soon – plausible, but far-fetched. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.