Popular cartoon pig snubs Britain's Labour at poll event
Children's television cartoon character, Peppa Pig, has left Britain's ruling Labour Party red-faced after pulling out of an election campaign event.
The popular animated pig, whose adventures are enjoyed by children in around 180 countries, was withdrawn from a launch on family policies Tuesday after the company that licenses her show said it wanted to avoid "controversy."
Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said he was "intensely pig sick" that Peppa was unable to attend the event.
She had previously backed a campaign for the Sure Start scheme, a government-funded programme which gathers a number of children's services in one place.
But E1 Entertainment, which licenses the British cartoon, said it had decided not to give Peppa permission to attend the May 6 general election campaign event.
"Peppa Pig is a well-known fan of Sure Start children's centres but, in the interests of avoiding any controversy or misunderstanding, we have agreed she should not attend," said the company in a statement.
Mandelson, however, told reporters he suspected the BBC had intervened with Channel Five -- which broadcasts the show in Britain -- to block the appearance.
"Although Peppa Pig and her production company were absolutely delighted to come out today, BBC managers got on to Channel Five and started stirring up trouble over it and tried to put Peppa Pig back in her box," he said.
"Obviously, I feel intensely pig sick about it," the minister added.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown struck a more conciliatory tone, however.
"The prime minister and his family are big fans of Peppa Pig and he understands that she has a very busy schedule and so couldn't make it," said a spokesman for the premier.
Brown is fighting to secure a historic fourth win for Labour at the election and is trailing in the polls.
The porcine snub was met with amusement in Britain's papers Wednesday.
The Conservative-supporting Sun newspaper declared "Pig Deserts Sinking Ship" in a front-page article.
And the left-leaning Guardian wondered: "Where does Peppa's political allegiance lie?"
© 2010 AFP