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
Drakeford’s a Latte-Day Stalin

When Guido reported eight days ago that Mark Drakeford was planning to ban the sale of energy drinks to teenagers on the absurd ground they are a ‘gateway’ to smoking and drinking, he thought we’d reached the high water mark of absurd statist abuses of devolved power. Drakeford disagreed; Guido has deja brew…

Today the Welsh Government has confirmed it is “considering banning the sale of tea and coffee to under-16s as part of plans to make young people healthier and stop rising obesity rates”. Given 100 grams of tea contains a whopping single calorie, Guido cannot see any justification for the policy…

Even the statist GP talking head Dr Amir Khan responded to plans on GMB on Friday morning, spilling the beans by saying “There is no real evidence for long-term damage from caffeine in tea and coffee so let us be proportionate – a ban is probably not necessary.” As public health policies go, this one’s as effective as a chocolate teapot…

Guido can think of another reason why Wales has an increasing youth obesity crisis, and it has far more to do with the recent policies of lockdown-loving, teapot dictator Drakeford than an occasional teen trip to Costa. It’s time for Drakeford to wake up and smell the coffee…

mdi-timer 28 June 2022 @ 17:00 28 Jun 2022 @ 17:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Nannying Welsh Government Declares Energy Drinks to be Gateway Drug

During the local elections last year, Keir Starmer hailed the Welsh Labour government, under Mark Drakeford, as “incredible”, and an example of how things can be run “differently and better” without a Tory government. Well, checking in with the People’s Soviet of Wales we are currently seeing a classic example of that “better” leadership, as they plan on banning the sale of energy drinks to children on the basis consumption acts as a gateway to “alcohol and tobacco use”. As well as, somehow, school exclusions…

Responding to a question by Tory leader Andrew R.T. Davies about the assessment they’d made about the policy’s affect on personal freedoms, minister Lynne Neagle wrote:

“Our approach to the consultation which was launched on 9 June and runs until 1 September is evidence based. It has been shown that children who drink energy drinks on five or more days per week were most likely to have low psychological, physical, educational and overall wellbeing. In turn, this can cause headaches, sleep problems, increased alcohol and tobacco use, irritability, and school exclusion. We want to protect the health and wellbeing of our population and to take the necessary measures to protect our children and young people

Detailed consideration is given to all Welsh Ministers’ statutory obligations including those under the Human Rights Act. Of course, as the policy is developed, further analysis will undertake including the impact of the policy on the rights of those affected.

Guido would warn Drakeford of the unintended consequences: for a country that allows 14-year-olds to register to vote, how on earth will they be able to engage with a Drakeford speech without the help of high-sugar, high-caffeine drinks?

mdi-timer 20 June 2022 @ 16:04 20 Jun 2022 @ 16:04 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
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
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