Who ordered the crackdown on benefits with a side of deficit reduction and an EU veto for dipping? And would you like to supersize?

Conservative MPs are like owners of McDonald's fast-food restaurants distributing Big Macs to potential voters, a Tory MP has said.

Watford MP Richard Harrington told a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham organised by the ConservativeHome website that as a backbench MP he was simply "distributing a product I don't make".

Harrington, who is vice-chairman of the Conservative Party's committee for target seats, said policies were "just an item from the McDonalds box" and parliamentary candidates had to decide which ones to hand out to the voters in their constituencies.

"We are distributors of a product produced centrally," he said. "I've got a bucket of Big Macs, I'm taking a product from the box."

Harrington, who was elected in 2010 with a majority of 1,425, was appearing on a panel alongside other Tory MPs in closely fought seats including Harlow's Robert Halfon, Cleethorpes' Martin Vickers and chief Lords reform rebel, Hereford and South Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman.

In literature accompanying the event, Harrington writes: "The party leadership manufacture a product i.e it's policies, and the candidate has a licence to distribute it in that particular constituencies.

"The manufacturer stipulates the rules e.e logo, menu etc., but the candidate has to communicate it and distribute it street by street"

Harrington also told the meeting that of Tory activists that it was a good idea to persistently leaflet homes in marginal seats even if they did actually read them, just to let the punters know "McDonald's is in town."

The Watford MP's analogy could be an astute one, but he may have wanted to not choose a product that a lot of people only buy when they are drunk and then regret it the next day to make it with.

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