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Op-Ed: Cameron's nanny state bans packed lunches but not booze

By Alexander Baron     Jul 12, 2013 in Lifestyle
How would you like the government to tell you what you can feed your kids, and what you can't? No, this is not Soviet Russia or North Korea, but modern Britain.
Today, the British Government has backtracked on two recommendations to produce a healthier Britain, but is pressing ahead with a third, at a local level at least. The problem, dear folk, is you. You don't realise alcohol is bad for you if you drink too much of the stuff, so to discourage you from that, a minimum alcohol price was proposed. In December 2011, no fewer than 19 top doctors were said to have put their names to a letter calling for a such minimum pricing because, they claimed, it would save lives.
Obviously they were doctors of medicine rather than psychology, because they are clearly ignorant of Sevareid's law. Increasing the price of a commodity does not necessarily reduce demand for it, certainly not for something that can be brewed in the garden shed, or smuggled.
Now it appears that someone in the Government has been doing his homework, and the minimum alcohol price has been abandoned.
Another strategy to enhance the health of Call Me Dave's loyal subjects was plain packaging for cigarettes. To be fair, the campaign against the demon weed has been around a long time before the Coalition Government or even the universal franchise. The King of England no less published A Counter-Blaste To Tobacco way back in 1604. He also came up with the idea of taxing the stuff, a policy that has been pursued with such enthusiasm over the past fifty years that the lion's share of the price of a packet of fags now goes into the coffers of HM Treasury. This leaves the government — whichever party may be in power — in an ambiguous position. On the one hand it has a duty to encourage people not to jeopardise their health, and also to save money by cutting down on the totality of smoking-related diseases treated by the NHS. On the other hand, there is all that wonderful tax.
The anti-smoking fanatics have been pressing for plain packaging for a long time, and in Australia they have succeeded. Now it appears this may not have had quite the desired effect, so our own Government has decided to sit on the fence awhile longer to see how the experiment plays out Down Under.
So what else can, should, or might be banned? Well, how about online gambling? Heck, don't you know this wicked pastime is so dangerous it can corrupt even Buddhist monks? How about heroin? That is already illegal, though perhaps it shouldn't be? Ah, what is our most precious commodity? Our children, right? So they should not be permitted to gamble, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or take packed lunches to school. What was that last one?
Yes, you heard correctly, head teachers in the UK are now being urged to ban kids from taking packed lunches to school, and at least one has already done so. This is all part of the misnamed "healthy eating" programme. While there is certainly nothing wrong with the Government encouraging schools to produce high quality food for little Johnny and Sarah, most mothers especially surely cannot be anything but resentful of its attempting to dictate what they can feed their offspring and what they can't. There is some lively discussion about this on the Mumsnet forum. It remains also to be seen if any parents decide to stand up to this silliness, perhaps by way of Judicial Review.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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