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
Boris’s Undercooked Junk Food Ad Ban

The government has announced it is pressing ahead with plans to ban ‘unhealthy food ads online, and on TV before 9 pm, albeit with some exemptions for small and medium-sized businesses. Under the new proposals, companies with fewer than 250 employees will still be able to market their fatty foods as before, and even giants like McDonald’s can continue advertising brand-only material. So presumably they’ll refocus their ads on the quality of their coffee and carrot sticks… 

The problem now, as the IEA’s Christopher Snowden argues, is that the policy is completely ham-fisted:

“Under the new plans, an apple pie can be advertised by a café but not by the McDonalds next door. The local takeaway can advertise kebabs and pizzas but Asda cannot advertise cheese.”

The ASI’s Matthew Lesh spells out the costs involved in this nannying endeavour:

  • £1.5 billion from broadcasters
  • £3.5bn from online platforms
  • £550m from ad agencies
  • £659m from product makers

Not only do the exemptions undermine the spirit of the policy, there isn’t even a clear definition for “junk food” in the first place. Initially, it was any food deemed “high in fat, salt and sugar”, though once the government realised that would even ban products like honey, jam, and avocados, they very quickly added a load of arbitrary exemptions. As far as Guido’s concerned, the policy should be pro-cake, pro-advertising it… 

mdi-timer 24 June 2021 @ 13:08 24 Jun 2021 @ 13:08 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Nannying Health Minister Supports Raising the Smoking Age To 21

Government Health Minister Jo Churchill, speaking to the zealots of the Smoking & Health All Party Parliamentary Group, described their proposal to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 as “interesting”. In the Zoom meeting, Churchill also congratulated members of APPG for their tireless work on “tobacco control”Her comments sound terrifyingly Orwellian… 

She adds that the recommendations discussed in the APPG report reflect the “same priorities that we [the government] are looking at for the new strategy.” According to the 2021 Nanny State Index, lifestyle restrictions on eating, drinking, and smoking have all steadily increased across Europe for the past four years. As Covid restrictions are slowly lifted, the government needs to stop its nannying and let people live their lives in peace… 

mdi-timer 16 June 2021 @ 15:45 16 Jun 2021 @ 15:45 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
60% of MPs Calling for Smoking Age of 21 Back Votes at 16

Today the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking & Health announced that the smoking age should be increased from 18 to 21, but 60% of MPs on this same APPG think the voting age should be lowered to 16. What a glaring display of hypocrisy… 

Guido has compiled a humiliating list of the 9 MPs who believe that 16 year-olds are mature enough to decide the fate of this country, yet won’t be ready for another 5 years until they are 21 years-old to decide for themselves whether or not to smoke. Priorities… 

  • Labour’s Alex Cunningham backs votes at 16
  • Green MP Caroline Lucas supports votes at 16
  • Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine argued that 16 year olds should decide Scotland’s fate in the 2014 referendum.
  • Labour’s Ian Mearns argued that 16-year-olds should vote on Britain’s EU membership.
  • Labour MP Nick Smith thinks 16-year-olds should have a say in our leaders.
  • SNP MP Owen Thompson believes 16-year-olds should decide this country’s leaders
  • Shadow SNP Spokesperson Philippa Whitford wants to reduce the voting age.
  • Racheal Maskell fought to lower the voting age in a passionate speech.
  • Finally Labour’s Virendra Sharma voted to allow 16 year olds a say in the EU referendum.

As previously reported by Guido, lifestyle restrictions on eating, drinking, and smoking have steadily increased across Europe in the past 4 years. Guido thinks these MPs need to abandon their hypocritical nannying and trust 18 year-olds to decide for themselves… 

mdi-timer 9 June 2021 @ 15:30 9 Jun 2021 @ 15:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Nanny State Index Shows Europe Becoming More Illiberal

The Nanny State Index (NSI) has been updated for 2021, and it makes for grim reading for any libertarian – with author Christopher Snowdon claiming “everything is steadily getting worse” and that “all the momentum is with the paternalists of ‘public health’” in the wake of the pandemic. Lifestyle restrictions on eating, drinking, smoking, and vaping have all steadily increased across Europe for the past four years…

Although the UK has fared better than the continent this year, dropping from fourth in its paternalism ranking down to twelfth, this is more a reflection of the downward trend in other European countries than of any liberalising agenda within the UK:

“It is a sign of how much nanny state activity there has been in Europe since 2019 that the United Kingdom has slipped from fourth place to eleventh in the table without liberalising anything. This can be partly explained by the government freezing beer and spirits duty since 2018 and freezing wine duty in 2020. Adjusted for income, its alcohol taxes are now only the ninth highest of the 30 countries in the index. It also helps that the UK takes a common sense approach to e-cigarettes… It remains to be seen whether the government uses Brexit as an opportunity for further liberalisation, but it remains highly paternalistic on food, soft drinks and tobacco.”

The nannying countries at the top of the table – Norway, Lithuania, and Finland – don’t boast higher life expectancies or lower hospitalisations connected to smoking or drinking, though that hasn’t stopped governments pushing illiberal policies further and further – especially under the cover of the pandemic. It’s gesture politics at its most dangerous.

mdi-timer 17 May 2021 @ 15:39 17 May 2021 @ 15:39 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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