Yesterday we had a bit of a panic, the first of the post Brexit vote disasters loomed large and the media had a field day. We had jokes, humour, the arrival of the Spiv selling black market product to meet the demand. All good fun stuff.
I even wrote a quick and humorous short about it. Here.
But it wasn't serious, nothing to worry about, just a laugh.
Or was it?
I saw two things happening here and neither of them were funny.
Firstly joking aside this as based on a very real problem, as the pound crashes in value against the rest of the world all our imports become more expensive and given that the UK imports vast amounts of food and drink, electrical goods, clothing and every other staple of life having them all increase in price is no laughing matter.
The pound falls 10%, you can bet, by the time the manufacturer, the distributor, the wholesaler and the shop have all added their little bit and rounded up, the actual item will have gone up by more that that.
Anyone else old enough to remember the fuss when we went from pints to liters or from pounds to kilos, when prices were 'Balanced' to the new quantities while people couldn't work out what was what, then the revelation that we were being ripped off AS USUAL.
Welcome to Brexit. Where the pound tanks, everyone and their mate adds trade tariffs which hit us in the pockets, which they will. Lets be honest here, does anyone actually trust this government to secure us a strong and fair deal for the future.
Given our just in time economy where almost no one keeps stock anymore and where we use predictive algorithms, sales analysis and such to order new goods just as the old ones run out any change in the value of the pound, any imposition of tariff or duty and we will see that increase within days. Fail to pay, delay the negotiation, a mega corp flexing it's muscle and stopping shipments for a week and we will be, excuse the language, FUCKED.
Panic buying will strip the shelves of imports and there simply aren't the stockpiles to replace them, just in time means it's shipped in just in time. There is no secret warehouse hidden somewhere, waiting to be found by fedora wearing explorers, packed to the rafters with enough Marmite to last the entire UK a year. Cut the import and you've got a week at most and with panic buying less than that.
As much as we laughed at how funny it was, Marmite, panic, a shortage for a few hours. There is a very real truth behind this event, a sign of the future. It doesn't matter if there is none to buy, or none that you can afford, the end result is the same and if this happens for real and it's something a lot more important than Marmite, I doubt there will be much laughter.
Secondly what I saw was one of the handful of super national corporations throwing it's weight around and putting up prices because it wasn't about to suffer a cut in profits due to the fall in value of some minor currency.
Unilever is one of a handful of mega corps who control hundreds of brand names and thousands of products that we buy and use everyday. They, between them, have a virtual stranglehold on our shopping and the choices they make shape our lives in significant ways.
Now the great Marmite panic was Tesco responding to a Unilever price hike, but Unilever sells to everyone, Marmite or Ben and Jerry's aren't unique to Tesco. Anyone hear about Sainsburys, Morrisons, Asda, or Aldi on the news or in the press.?
Was that because they all accepted the price increases without complaint?
Tesco, for a short while, was rumoured to be running out of Marmite and they had a run on the stuff, Marmite eaters in a panic, do they stockpile, do they start rationing the foul stuff. Now it was still available elsewhere, stocks never stopped. But still we had a panic in the media and on the streets.
At present we are part of a trade block of 800 million people, love them or hate them, the EU has some weight to throw around when it comes to dealing with the mega corps and trade deals. Someone like Unilever wouldn't be forcing a 10% across the board price hike on the Eu, rather it would be asking them how to resolve the change in currency values so it didn't end up making a loss.
Our government and the hand picket team of ministers, the three Brexiteers, are going to be responsible for protecting us from trade exploitation, they are going to be doing the deals that will make sure we aren't at the mercy of the Unilevers of the world, treating the UK like they treat other second and third world nations, as cash cows.
Davis, Fox, Johnson and Glorious Leader May. Our defenders, our champions. Securing a better future for us all as we stand alone against a cruel profit driven world.
I wouldn't eat Marmite if you paid me, a lot. Maybe use it to waterproof a wooden boat hull, but eat it, not bloody likely.
However I support the right of those sad people who do like the stuff to eat it, when and where they want. Marmite may be a small thing when compared to the whole country but when it's gone what will we have to insult
Marmite, love it, hate it, don't stop it.