Thursday, 8 July 2010

He who rides the tiger.....

Big things and small things.

The big thing is the economy and the awful suspicion that the coalition government is heading us back to recession and maybe even depression through its economic illiteracy. The Tories have always been economically illiterate (just look at the squandring of the oil bonanza in the '80s and Black Wednesday if you need evidence).

But that's not the only problem. They have always been in thrall to business, and opposed to the welfare state. This leads them to sell of our assets and privatise services that would much better be provided by the state and to defer to business in areas where the state is much better placed to address then problems..

And so to the small things, if you can call public health, and particularly the obesity explosion, a "small thing". Tory Health Minister Andrew Lansley is addressing the problem of obesity, not by more regulation of food providers, but by less. He has promised to loosen regulations in return for cash. To be specific, beer companies, confectionary firms and crisp-makers will be asked to fund the government's advertising campaign to persuade people to switch to a healthier lifestyle and, in return, will not face new legislation outlawing excessively fatty, sugary and salty foods.

The idea that Cadbury's or  Nestle or Unilever or the brewers are the fit people to conduct food policy in an advanced democracy is idiotic. In any case it was tried by the last Tory government, and it failed, with the results we see today.

There's an old Chinese proverb to the effect that "he who rides the tiger ends up inside...". The Tory policy on obesity is equivalent to the management at the zoo extracting an agreement from the tigers that they won't eat anybody in future, and in return their cages will be left open....

Professor Tim Laing, Professor of Food Policy at City University was interviewed on 5 Live this morning. I have seldom heard a government policy attacked with such venom: "nonsense", "utter nonsense" and "stupid politics" were just three of the insults I caught.

The interview can be found here . Just skip to 1hr 38 mins in. Worth hearing.

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