Today’s media storm in a teacup is whether it is right for Piers Morgan to have grilled the Prime Minister on her recipe for scones in an interview on Good Morning Britain.
Commentators, including Heat Street writer Anna Rhodes, have argued that it is part of a sexist narrative which clings to our second female Prime Minister and obscures proper scrutiny.
Unfortunately, that’s nonsense.
I know you guys aren't in print journalism any more, but you realise she gave the Sunday Times her scones recipe, right? https://t.co/SfmMbrZCoF
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) October 4, 2016
As Morgan has since pointed out on Twitter, May’s opinions on scones were not extracted from her by bully-boy interviewers, but published on purpose by her press operation this weekend in the Sunday Times:
"Isn't this a bit like everyone's scone recipe, Theresa?"
"Scones means scones." pic.twitter.com/g1NL2e9HDK
— Ciaran Jenkins (@C4Ciaran) October 2, 2016
Implying that this is a sexist – because she’s a woman talking about cooking – really tells us more about the preconceptions of commentators than about May.
Indeed, in the kitchen stakes she lags behind predecessor David Cameron, who last March went further and invited The Sun to watch him make “sardines a la Cameron”:
Once you’ve reminded yourself what a “coalition” is and recovered from the shock of seeing Nick Clegg in a position of authority, you’ll remember that is all part of the game.
And indeed, it is a game Cameron played rather a lot. It saw us regaled with pictures of his cute daughter in a ministerial box, a searingly personal account of the death of his disabled son, and pictures of his fat belly on the beach.
Super cute picture of little Florence Cameron in one of her Dad's red boxes. pic.twitter.com/E5Wwfdfhnc
— Rob Burley (@RobBurl) July 14, 2016
I think rather than beat up Morgan for asking the PM about a recipe she herself handed out, we should relish the chance to work out what it says about her.
For – aside from tiresome gender politics – the scone recipe is Mayism epitomised.
Unlike healthy, Mediterranean Cameron, May’s scone is comfort food and a British classic.
Cameron’s recipe, “ripped off from someone else’s book”, is essay crisis cooking – thrown together in an instant and, obviously, with no quantities.
By contrast May’s scone recipe – inherited, naturally, from her mother – is scrupulous.
Weights are in imperial measures and, as MailOnline has observed, scones a la May favour a “thrifty” ratio of butter to flour – likely a hangover from wartime rationing.
Theresa May so much more English than DC. Her handout recipe is scones – he gave us "sardines a la Cameron" https://t.co/gKtMz3qsyu
— Kieran Corcoran (@kj_corcoran) October 4, 2016
The seven-sentence recipe is precise, to the point, and incompatible with healthy eating fads.
It is a recipe for the Home Counties and beyond, and wouldn’t last a minute in Notting Hill.
It tells us exactly who the Prime Minister is trying to impress – and who she isn’t. It is also, crucially, nothing to do with her gender.