Sketch: Henry Dimbleby’s Stalinist Food Strategy In Committee

This is a mere sketch of a document that is “as thick as a telephone directory,” as Chair Robert Goodwill described it.

In short, restaurateur Henry Dimbleby’s Food Strategy is the agglomeration of several blobs – culinary, cultural, climate control. He looked, standing in the Committee Corridor like the Henry VIII of blobs: tieless, portly, hands on hips, immeasurably assured. The Old Etonian son of a publishing and broadcasting dynasty, he is also, he told the committee, the lead non-exec director of DEFRA.

Is it proper for a non-executive, whose job is scrutiny, to perform an executive function like producing a strategy? We live in innovative times.

He said he didn’t want to recommend “a Stalinist five-year plan” for the country’s food supply before revealing his 25-year Stalinist plan for the country’s food supply.

The assumptions underlying his thinking are spectacular. That the price of solar is falling so fast that there will be “huge amounts of free energy and at that point energy becomes very cheap.” And that “Too much of our land is grass.” And that it takes 70 kgs of carbon to produce a kilo of Brazilian beef. However that figure was calculated, we know it could be recalculated the other way with a flick of a statistician’s finger.

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mdi-timer 18 October 2022 @ 11:48 18 Oct 2022 @ 11:48 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Truss Begins Work on Scrapping Nannying Junk Food Tax

Despite politics shutting down for a fortnight, it appears Liz is already powering on with fulfilling her campaign policy of scrapping Boris’s out-of-character junk food tax. During the leadership race, Liz promised to halt the ban on buy-one-get-one-free promotions and deals on junk food if she became PM. This morning we learn Liz, Kwasi and Coffey have ordered a Treasury review of the evidence around the obesity policy, which could also lead to ditching calorie counts on menus. It may even look at the 2018 sugar tax…

Guido understands the policy is being spun in two ways: both as an anti-government interference, anti-red tape policy; and a policy to alleviate the cost of living in light of the unprecedented global economic situation. The move would also kill off dead large swathes of Henry Dimbleby’s – the government food tsar’s – 2021 call for a £3bn sugar and salt tax levy.  A reminder that Dimbleby’s own fast food chain Leon is more calorific than McDonald’s…

By all accounts The Guardian’s civil service sources are both “aghast” and angry at the move, despite it being an overt leadership election promise by Liz. One source told their health policy editor, with dripping disappointment, that “There doesn’t seem to be any appetite from Thérèse for nanny state stuff.” Guido’s almost surprised to see the paper not mention that her victory drinks last week were held at the offices of Deliveroo, implying some sort of dark lobbying victory. After the big-state splurge of Liz’s energy policy, it’s reassuring to see her making good on her other ideologically-driven promises…

mdi-timer 14 September 2022 @ 08:44 14 Sep 2022 @ 08:44 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Robert Jenrick Criticises Snack Tax Plans As Food Tsar Insists They Could Save the NHS

Following Guido’s story yesterday that Boris’s food tsar Henry Dimbleby is proposing huge taxes on foods high in sugar and salt (plans which would cost every household an estimated £172 every year), Robert Jenrick made this morning’s media round to push back on the proposals and insist that they are not government policy – yet. Speaking on LBC, Jenrick said:

“Well that isn’t the government’s policy… I think you have to be very cautious before putting burdens on members of the public, particularly those on lower incomes. That’s my long-standing view…  going to consider it carefully, and set out our national food strategy in the coming months…I think you do have to be very careful about going down that road, because I don’t want to make life more difficult for people on low incomes.”

Dimbleby himself also gave an interview this morning, appearing on the Today programme to defend the plans and once again insist that they’re necessary to protect the NHS:

“The junk food cycle is, we think, the thing that is causing the harm…we do not actually believe [the taxes] will hike the price. What it will do is it will reformulate, it will make people take sugar and salt out…there may be some products that you can’t reformulate…the question you have to ask then is: ‘is the freedom to keep Frosties cheap worth destroying the NHS for?'”

UPDATE: Boris has also come out against the snack tax plans during his levelling up speech, saying:

“I’m not, I must say, attracted to the idea of extra taxes on hard-working people. Let me just signal that.”

A much clearer statement than the rest of that speech…

mdi-timer 15 July 2021 @ 08:58 15 Jul 2021 @ 08:58 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
New: Henry Dimbleby’s Nannying Plan to “End the Junk Food Cycle” with Huge Tax Hikes

Sources tell Guido that Henry Dimbleby’s new “National Food Strategy” – an upcoming review commissioned by the government to investigate ways of reducing the “damage” of our food system – will argue that the UK has become trapped in a “junk food cycle“, and that breaking out of it requires implementing (as rumoured) a £3 per kg tax on sugar and a £6 per kg tax on salt. Apparently, the tax is part of our duty to “protect the NHS“; all pretty rich from the man who co-founded the Leon fast food chain. Although Leon does market itself as “natural”, so maybe they’re above reproach – it’d still add about 20p to the cost of their meatballs, though…

The news comes on the same day that the government appears to have smuggled in a clause to the Health and Care Bill which allows the Health Secretary to unilaterally decide what constitutes “less healthy food” in respect to online and TV advertising:

“For the purposes of the Bill, a food or drink product is ‘less healthy’ if it falls within a description specified in regulations made by the Secretary of State, and it is ‘less healthy’ in accordance with the relevant guidance.”

Guido’s said it before: nannying plans like these are a waste of time. They won’t cut obesity, and they won’t ‘protect’ the NHS. All they’ll do is hurt small businesses and leave a dent in people’s wallets. 

mdi-timer 14 July 2021 @ 16:12 14 Jul 2021 @ 16:12 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Guido Forks Investigates: Leon’s “Does you Good” Food

This morning the Government secured Henry Dimbleby, the founder of the Leon restaurant chain, as the big hitting voice to unveil the first part of their new “National Food Strategy”, calling obesity a “national emergency we can no longer afford to ignore”. Dimbleby came out swinging against evil obesity creators, particularly singling out M&S for “genuinely misleading” customers over their Percy Pig sweets. Which, as it turns out, contain no pork whatsoever…

Dimbleby claimed he picked on M&S “because they have integrity as one of their values”. Another company that values integrity is Dimbleby’s own Leon food chain, who promise “Naturally Fast Food that tastes good, does you good and is kind to the planet”. If the Government is intent on taking aim against misleading nutritional information they may want to turn their attention to the Leon – whose menu is often significantly more calorific than, for example, their counterparts at McDonald’s…

The nannying CEO told the audience, “one of the most egregious sins of the modern food industry is its habit of clothing itself, and its products, in false virtue.” Quite…

mdi-timer 29 July 2020 @ 14:27 29 Jul 2020 @ 14:27 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments