Like most people in Britain, the sight of Jamie Oliver often makes me think of Sainsbury’s, and little more. Yet recently, we’ve seen this cheeky little Essex-boy scamp of a TV chef show us what it means to be a living in a democracy.
Really. Hear me out.
With the run-up to the election, there’s a general tendency to assume that this is the moment at which we start ‘talking democracy’. When we’ve cast our ballots, it’ll be over for another four years (or forever, if you vote for a man who’s quite often compared to a vampire) and there’s nothing we can do. Yet this attitude is quite simply wrong, and quite contrary to the ideals of democracy which we should all aspire to if - as Tony would like - we’re going to take the post of its global advocate.
Jamie Oliver, for those of you reading across the pond, is a rather excitable TV chef, one that you either love or hate. Recently, through his latest program, he’s been championing a cause to get more money spent on school dinners, and for better provision of basic, healthy grub. Now if you’ve never had the luxury of attending a UK comp, think chips, chips, chips. Gravy.
Oliver’s program appears to have drummed up an incredible amount of support, and thanks to his pro-active approach, it’s just been announced that over three years, Â£280 million extra is to be spent on school dinners, as a result of his campaign. Fantastic, I say. This is of course, despite the Education Secretary’s claim that she’s had such a plan in mind for years. Right, of course you have, love.
Good food aside, this is a stunning example of popular participation in a healthy, active democracy, and it’s something that we could genuinely learn from in the run-up to a general election. Oliver gathered 270,000 signatures in support of reform; indication, surely, of the positive role the media can play in drumming up support for civil action. This is proof indeed that it doesn’t end at the ballot box, and if it takes a TV chef to show us this, then throw me a pinny and call me Delia.