No bread for councillors as many reject Brussels: Christmas poll results revealed
Katy Oglethorpe, Head of Communications, 24 December, 2019


Dining dividing lines continue to eat up councils as they fail to agree on what to have for Christmas lunch.

We asked council leaders, chief executives and Mayors what they’d ban from the dinner table at on 25th December. Their surprising answers might, or might not, reveal a lot about the inner workings of local government today.

Bread sauce (28% would ban)

The loser in this story is the humble bread sauce, with nearly a third rejecting from their Christmas plates. Could it be that council chiefs have grown unused to the sight of dough – or has is this glutinous concoction of stale bread become an unwitting symbol of the austerity they want to leave behind? I’d be loaf to guess.

Mince pies (24% would ban)

Many council chiefs show their non-traditional side by rejecting one of the oldest Christmas treats – the mince pie. Might it be a puritanical longing to return to the republican ideology of Cromwell – who famously petitioned against the pastries? Fascinatingly, there’s nowhere more averse to this English treat than Scotland, where an enormous 100% of leaders voted against them. Maybe there’s a raisin for this currant situation…

Brussel sprouts (21% would ban)

The traditional punching bag of Christmas got a mixed reception from council heads this year – in a result that exposed stark divisions across regional lines. 100% of Metropolitan councils voted to stay loyal to Brussels, while all of Wales voted to leave the them behind. One question you might ask if whether these naysayers have tried frying it with pancetta and Chablis. Another is – would they change their mind if they were renamed Birmingham sprouts?

Turkey (11% would ban)

Roast fowl or foul roast? Turkey is a divisive bird but less so among councils – who buck the trends of vegetarianism and vote on mass to save the turkey. Indeed, only 11% of respondents would do away with the Christmas centrepiece. I suppose the rest would gobble it up.

The real rebels here are the North East, who all voted to ban the bird. To them I would say don’t worry! The turkey won’t be eating you – it’s already stuffed.

Cranberry Sauce (10% would ban)

Is it in your head, or do some respondents leave cranberries to linger on their plate?

Cranberry sauce is a relative newcomer to our dinner tables – having first been served in 1912 Massachusetts. That said, 90% of responders would welcome this plucky young immigrant to their tables. Maybe they think it’s a side issue.

Parsnips (7% would ban)

Less dull establishment than the carrot, more trusted insider than the purple-sprouting broccoli, and inferably more chic than the turnip, 92% of council responders stayed true to their roots and saved the British parsnip from dinnertime exodus.

Could this be that the parsnip embodies the grit of local government in the face of all circumstances? After all, the parsnip only becomes sweeter after surviving the winter frosts. And when life gives you parsnips, it is technically possible to make parsnip wine. (Recipe here.)

Whatever you’re consuming this season, happy festive season from all at NLGN. Keep up the amazing work and see you in 2020!

PS This survey was part of a Leadership Index survey focused on council’s response to air quality and other issues. We’ll be publishing this topical survey without the Christmas-themed question on [what date].