Last week witnessed a remarkable low when the leader of a coalition between a party claiming to oppose top down dictatorial government and another claiming to be liberal, announced his support for exactly the kind of mass social engineering that most of us hoped had died a death with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
As I pointed out in a previous post, minimum pricing adherents are not at all ashamed of the totalitarian nature of their plans and indeed have actively sought to persuade our elected representatives of the “rewards” to be gleaned from emulating Soviet policy on alcohol. They did in the process of course focus on short term successes and completely failed to mention the disastrous longer term consequences of said Soviet policy. Zealots and fanatics rarely allow the truth to get in the way of their endless campaigns which is one reason why it is generally a bad idea to appease them.
David Cameron and his government appear to have ignored conventional wisdom with regard to appeasement by caving in to a deeply dishonest campaign for minimum alcohol pricing spearheaded by the medical establishment. A campaign that has, amongst other unsavoury tactics, seen the public lied to about the real price of alcohol, misled over the number of hospital admissions related to alcohol and kept in the dark about positive trends in both attitude and consumption.
At least I have to assume The Prime Minister’s spineless capitulation is an attempt to appease the zealots as the alternative explanation that he and his cabinet truly believe a 40p minimum price per unit will “mean 50,000 fewer crimes each year and 900 fewer alcohol related deaths per year by the end of the decade” would be evidence that the country really is being run by fools.
One of the reasons it is generally considered a bad idea to appease fanatics is that it only encourages them to greater excess and also encourages others to emulate them. On Saturday the BBC ran what should have been an upbeat news item about major food companies co-operating with the DH on obesity by cutting calorie content in their products. It sounds like just the sort of thing that people who care about obesity might applaud but this being a BBC news item it had to feature some rather severe criticism from a spokesperson for one of the myriad obscure “charities” that taxpayers are forced to fund.
According to the BBC, Children’s Food Campaign spokesman Charlie Powell said:
”The food industry wants to be part of the solution but altogether refuses to admit that it’s a big part of the problem. And it’s to the government’s disgrace that the food industry is actually helping to set government health policy. I think we should look at what’s happening on the alcohol network and actually the government have decided that the way to go is actually to mandate companies in terms of their pricing. While they grapple with voluntary approaches, we’ll see these weasel word pledges continue.”
Charlie describes himself as “Left-thinking vegan feminist, campaigning for a fairer and more sustainable world.”
Clearly this otherwise gentle soul has scented blood following the government’s surrender on alcohol and will be crusading for minimum pricing or maybe even outright banning of foods he doesn’t think that we should be eating. I assume that will include meat if he dares to dream that big. After all, all he needs to do is gather support from the more unscrupulous and fanatical elements of the medical establishment and anything might actually be possible.
His first port of call could be Jonathan Waxman, whose words are living proof if more was needed that passing a medical degree is no guarantee of intelligence, humility, decency or common sense.
“Not only do we need to ramp up the public health campaigns that encourage us to ditch the doughnuts. But we will have to go further and ban adverts for high-fat foods. It is wrong that manufacturers can produce mayonnaise with a 70 per cent fat content, so we should tax food laden with saturated fats.
Some will argue that this is an affront to personal freedom. But the people with the least ability to make informed choices are the poor, who happen also to be more likely to smoke or be fat.”
As Dave and his elitist mates seem to share Waxman’s view that the people in general and the poor in particular are too stupid to be allowed to make their own choices I think it likely that it will not be long before minimum pricing becomes the preferred option to reduce consumption of anything the medics and activists decide they don’t like.
I recommend stocking up on digestives and other “sinful” foods before it is too late. I wouldn’t worry about alcohol because it is ridiculously easy to make.
By Chris Oakley. Chris has previously posted on Liberal Vision: Soviet Style Alcohol Suppression Campaign Called for By Public Health Activists , Alcohol Taxation: The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth , A Liberal Tolerant nation? and What hope is there for liberty if truth becomes the plaything of political lobbyists.