'The Prawn Cocktail Offensive". That was the mocking term coined by the Conservatives when, in the early 1990s, the Labour party tried to woo British business. Back then, the Tories had been in power for well over a decade. Labour was in the political wilderness, seemingly years from power. But Labour leader John Smith – a silky lawyer – teamed up with star front-bencher Mo Mowlam. Together, they held countless private lunches and dinners with business leaders across the City of London and beyond. Forget the hard Left, said Smith and Mowlam, Labour is no longer the party of strikes and industrial unrest. We're for enterprise, wealth creation and low tax, they claimed. The Labour Party has changed! Government ministers openly mocked Labour's attempt to wine and dine the business community. Tory grandee Michael Heseltine dubbed it the prawn cocktail offensive – after that perennial starter on mid-market corporate dining menus. "Lunch after lunch, dinner after dinner, the assurances flow," snorted Hezza, from the Commons despatch box. "All those prawn cocktails for nothing," he crowed, the Tory backbenches cheering him on. "Never have so many crustaceans died in vain!". History shows, though, that Labour's prawn cocktail offensive worked. What Smith… Read full this story
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