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Rationing – coming to a local store near you soon

By Angela Harbutt
November 13th, 2011 at 7:00 am | 6 Comments | Posted in Nannying, Nudge Dredd, Personal Freedom

Just when you thought that the madness could not go any further – it does. Sitting down with a much-needed glass of wine last night to catch up on fellow bloggers activities elsewhere, I casually click over to see what  Dick Puddlecote has to say about the world…. WTF? He tells me that far from the planned plain-packaging ban on all tobacco products being the “pièce de résistance” on the anti-smoking groups activities – they have much more in mind…


Yep – that’s right… rationing. Some anti-smoking nutter (I am sorry but I can find no other word for him) – has a new idea that is filtering into the system…

Under the proposal, a license would give the smoker a right to a limited quota of tobacco supply, say 10 cigarettes a day or 20 cigarettes a day and so on. There is a fee payable to government to give the consumer the right to use tobacco. The more tobacco the license holder pre‑commits to smoke, the higher the license fee involved.

Under the licensing plan consumers would be asked to pass a test, ‘not dissimilar to a driving test’ Chapman stated, to qualify for a right to receive a license to legally purchase tobacco.

After a horribly detailed account of exactly how this odious plan would be implemented – too gross to recount here (go read it) – Dick makes the all too true point

“Remember that anti-tobacco holds global conferences to share notes on their policies. If there comes a time when plain packaging is nodded through by our crashingly gullible Westminster representatives, all guns will be turned away from business, and onto ever more coercive measures to restrict personal consumption

And as I mentioned just a few days ago Where (they) have succeeded with tobacco – so they will follow for alcohol, fast food, chocolate and every other indulgence we enjoy.

Are we really willing to live in a so-called free society where we blindly allow rich government funded groups – that can afford to travel around the world chatting to one another thanks to our tax contributions –  to silently strip away every bit of our free choice we have?

Because. And let me make this as plain as I can – it won’t stop with tobacco.

This has surely gotten way out of control. Dick is also right to say that when they have gone as far as they can attacking legal companies Phillip Morris, Kraft, Coca Cola etc activities, they will turn on us. Our freedoms. Our choices.

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Battle lines are drawn: this is the mother of all fights

By Angela Harbutt
November 10th, 2011 at 10:44 pm | 12 Comments | Posted in Economics, Nannying, Personal Freedom

A huge chunk of the corporate world will be taking a very sharp intake of breath right now as it is announced that Australia is to become the first country to seek to strip private legal companies of their trademarks. 

The Australian government has today effectively passed a bill that will mean from December next year, all cigarettes will be sold in olive green packs, with no trademark brand logos permitted on any packaging. Companies will be able to print their name and the cigarette brand in small, prescribed font on the packets together with stark health warning messages and pictures, which will cover 75% of the front of the pack and 90% of the back.

Tobacco companies have vowed to fight the new legislation in court. And rightly so. Can you imagine Coca Cola allowing the shiny red can and swirly brand name to be removed and replaced by an olive green can, with warnings of addiction and early death plastered all over it, without challenge? Or Cadbury giving up its purple bars of loveliness, or Tanqueray its distinctive green bottles without a fight? No I don’t think so. They would rightly argue that their branding is about product differentiation and brand share, that they have invested millions in their trademarks and will challenge any body – including governments – that seek to take that away.

And whilst once the fast food, confectionery and drinks industry stood as far away from the tobacco industry as they possibly could (with fingers crossed muttering quietly “please not us next, please not us next”). “The times they are a changin”.

Taxation, the original weapon of choice of Governments seeking to discourage tobacco consumption, returns increasingly to the alcohol industry, and  is now the insidious stick with which to beat the food industry (think Danish fat tax).

Nor will it stop at just tax. Where health lobby groups have succeeded with tobacco – so they will follow for alcohol, fast food, chocolate and every other indulgence we enjoy.    We already see that great old anti-smoking chestnut- the cost to the NHS -appearing with increasing frequency …  “the cost of obesity to NHS”  or the “£3bn cost of alocohol to NHS every year” .

So too have the scare tactics – the headlines that  get ever more hysterical … the “obesity pandemic“… “Fatty foods Addictive like Cocaine“… “Binge drinking on the rise” (never mind that according to the governments own statistics, alcohol consumption is actually falling).

We are already see signs of anti-tobacco-style attacks on food distribution ( health lobby groups arguing for a ban on siting of “fast food outlets” near educational facilities) and advertising (Diane Abbott’s criticism of Coca Cola and McDonalds sponsoring the Olympic Games) etc.

So sure as night follows day  it’s only a matter of time before it will become “widely accepted” that many of our pleasures and indulgences are in fact wicked evil addictive substances and that we are not responsible consumers but the” hapless and the exploited” that need protecting for our own sakes.

It’s a tiny step from there to the decision that it’s the branding of the fizzy drink, bottle of booze, bar of chocolate, or burger that’s the problem – and stripping away the trademark, packaging design and strap line – is not just desirable but necessary.

And whereas now we have politicians stating “If this legislation stops one young (Australian) from picking up a shiny, coloured packet and prevents them becoming addicted to cigarettes then in my view it will have been worthwhile,” we we soon hear them saying this instead…

If this legislation stops one young (Australian) from picking up a shiny, red tin of Coca Cola  and prevents them becoming addicted to fizzy drinks then in my view it will have been worthwhile” .

And the consequences of travelling blindly down this health evangelist’s path will be brands competing on price, not quality, not health; a duller, less imaginative and exciting world; counterfeiting criminal gangs having a field day; and we the people accepting that we know nothing about anything and that “Government knows best”. When we all have Soviet style cola rationed to us by our “benign” governments we can all praise them and thank them for saving us from ourselves.

I am sure that we all ate more vegetables in the Middle Ages -and probably in Soviet Russia too-  they are just not ages I want to return to, nor regimes I wish to live under. There is an alternative. We can say NO MORE. This is a line in the that has been crossed…Companies have rights. People’s pensions and life-savings are tied up in these companies and their brands. Trademarks can’t be dismissed on a whim.  Intellectual Property Rights can’t be casually cast aside.  And perhaps most importantly …We are adults – not children. And we whilst we say yes to informed choice, education, and help to those who want it…we say no state control.

THIS is a battle that we cannot allow tobacco to lose.

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Salmon and brazil nuts to be subject to Cameron’s fat tax?

By Angela Harbutt
October 6th, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Comments Off on Salmon and brazil nuts to be subject to Cameron’s fat tax? | Posted in health, Nannying

HAT TIP… Regular readers of this blog will know how much I adore Dick Puddlecote’s blog . No matter how bad it gets, he always makes me smile. Yesterday’s  post is a particular peach.  In it, he hypothesises what food stuffs may be banned if “call-me-liberal-Dave” does elect to go down the same FAT TAX route as Denmark. Never mind taxing butter and cheese….

“…avocados appear to just miss the cut, but cashews fall under the tax. So do salmon, eggs, and dark chocolate”.

(I was so sure I had heard that dark chocolate was good for you?).

He also questions whether restricting saturated fats is really a sensible route to a healthier nation…

“…the jury isn’t just out on the health benefits of restricting saturated fats, it’s in the next town having a beer and a ploughman’s and discussing if such a move could end up being damaging. As these four recent studies argue…”

To find out what the studies reveal about why saturated fat ain’t necessarily the bad guy in this you will have to go read the post. Click on one of the above links – I know you will enjoy!

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Is this what Cameron’s “liberal conservatism” looks like? er no thanks….

By Angela Harbutt
October 5th, 2011 at 6:11 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in health, Nannying, Nudge Dredd

Ignoring the fiasco of the PM’s speech today, something caught my attention at Tory party conference yesterday that left me literally gobsmacked. “Call me liberal-Dave” has come out into the open and confirmed that a FAT TAX may be introduced in Britain in order to curb what he describes as soaring health costs and falling life expectancy (and there was I thinking that people were actually living longer these days).

I suppose that we should not be surprised.. For every so-called liberal step forward this Government claims to make, the Conservative instinct to re-shape society into some perfect 1950s Utopia takes us 4 steps backward. So much for the end to the nanny state that was promised when the Conservative party was on the hunt for “liberal” votes.

The optimists amongst you will say…Ah but he is only saying that a FAT TAX might be introduced. And that might be fair. After all wasn’t it this Government’s public health minister (Anne Milton) who said,  just last month, that the government believed the best way to achieve results on obesity was through a collective voluntary effort...and that “We have no current plans to impose a ‘fat tax’, but we are working with food companies to reduce fat, sugar and salt and ensure healthier options are available”…..

But you optimists are going to be sadly disappointed I fear. When the Prime Minister says “Don’t rule anything out, but let’s look at the evidence then you know that we ordinary folks are in trouble.Because we know how this will be played out.  Any day now we’ll be told that there will be another “consultation” on health (costing who knows how much money) to “consider the evidence“. The “evidence”  that “liberal-Dave” refers to will come from tax-payer funded health lobbies, the BMA and other interest-groups whose position on this point is already clear. They are the ones who have been calling for a FAT TAX in the first place. So much for goverment groups not lobbying government. And, of course, that “evidence” will be nothing more than a long lament about how much the NHS costs and some rather feeble “modelling” of the “likely effects” of increased tax on our waistlines.  Doubtless being told along the way how “all academics” are 100% in agreement with the “research”. The narcissistic celebrity chefs will fall over themselves to get their sound-bites broadcast out across the nation. And the treasury will sit there quietly calculating just how much money will pour into the coffers under the guise of “helping the nations health”. Against the sheer might of the ludicrously over-funded health lobbyists, luvvie chefs and needs of the treasury – do you really think that this will be a balanced debate?

Yep I am sure that we will hear from the Food and Drink Federation, individual manufacturers and the like explaining what has been done so far and will be done in the future. Too little and too late my friends. The health lobbyists will point to your corporate interests and your huge profits and say that you are BIG Business and anything you say cannot be trusted. Only they – they purveyors of truth – must be listened to. And, oh yeah the BBC and the politicians will buy that line hook line and sinker.

Of course we normal folks know it is not at all clear that “FAT” is the problem. There is no clear agreement amongst scientists on exactly what is causing us to pile on the pounds. It might be the sugar, more likely the carbohydrates, possibly the salt etc. Not to mention lack of exercise – or indeed – stress. That of course won’t be a problem for the health lobby. When they have their FAT tax, they can come back again for a SODA tax, or a SALT tax…They have plenty to go at – and go at it they will. How else will their fat salaries be paid?

We have seen this played out before with tobacco, then alcohol and now food. We have seen governments and organisations (national and international) take £millions of tax from us to fund academics to sit in their ivory towers and tell us how much fat we should limit ourselves to; how many units of alcohol we can “safely” consume; how many litres of water we should drink; how many portions of veg to eat; how much exercise we should take;  how we should eat more fish (but not the small ones we throw back into the sea by the tonne, the nice middle class line-caught ones don’t you know);why we should eat less red meat (though we are now told that some red meat is good for us); eat more chicken (well Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall style chicken, not Bernard Matthews style chicken); how processed meat is linked to cancer so eat less; why Fair trade 100% dark chocolate is good for us (so eat more)…and on and on…

Frankly if they shut down every government funded health lobby group in the UK alone and gave the money back to us, the taxpayers, we could all probably afford to eat more healthily. We would certainly all be a lot less stressed.

In the meantime “liberal Dave’s” threat to “consider the evidence” on the FAT tax is not only insulting and nannying – it is downright dishonest. There is no evidence – just a range of well-funded lobbyists with too much money and influence and too little commonsense. Glass of wine anyone?

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Nick Clegg’s social mobility

By Simon Goldie
September 22nd, 2011 at 8:57 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in Liberal Democrats, Liberal Philosophy, Nannying, Social Liberal Forum

Nick Clegg has made it clear that social mobility is a key part of his political agenda.

He returned to this theme again in his closing speech at the Liberal Democrat conference.

Clegg has also been weaving a modern liberal narrative for sometime. Early on in the conference week, he talked about the rich liberal heritage of the party.

For now, he is arguing that the pupil premium will unblock the barriers to achievement for poor children.

Social mobility could be his modern liberal narrative in action. Mill, a classical liberal, was keen on education for all. He wanted everyone to have the opportunity to reach their potential. And once they had reached it, they would be active citizens in a liberal society. For me that meant individuals running their lives and living as they wish as long as they did no harm to others.

The social liberal wing of the party must surely welcome this government intervention while the classical liberal side can look forward to the children who benefit becoming adults who no longer need the ‘Nanny State’.

If Clegg can establish this modern liberal narrative: a combination of different strands of liberalism and then implement a policy that represents it, he may be able to rebuild the party’s electoral base in time for the next general election.