Thursday, 22 October 2015

Who's the sugar daddy?

This article in the Telegraph by one Alex Deane, from a pressure group that calls itself People Against Sugar Tax, is ... erm ... interesting:

Jamie Oliver is a patronising bully and he can stick his sugar tax

A sugar tax on drinks and sweets would only hurt poor people. Politicians should ignore celebrities who want a nanny-state

...Oliver grandly told the Health Select Committee that he had had “robust” discussions with the Prime Minister about his proposed introduction of a 20 per cent tax on sugar-sweetened drinks. Which, we can confidently say, would be the beginning of sugar taxes, not the end of it – because the state, he thinks, should “frankly, act like a parent” when it comes to such matters.
This tells us all we need to know. Paternalism is a rather literal word for it. They know what’s best – not just for them, but for us. Not only do they know it; they want to force us all to share their choices, regardless of our own views.

It’s an unpleasant campaign, because it is hugely patronising. We all know that sugar isn’t good for us. From time to time, we choose to have it anyway. We eat sugary things because they taste good.
It’s an unpleasant campaign, because – whilse [sic] they really don’t like this point – those preaching over sugar are too rich to have to care about the price of food. The effect of sugar taxes would be to raise the price of food for those least able to afford it.

"If this bullying nonsense made it to the statute books, what have a stealth tax on those least able to afford it"
There's crumb of plausibility in Deane's extravagant Bake Off show-stopper-style confection of outrage. The look and feel of some prosperous celebrity chef lecturing the poor on how to make their pittance stretch further is patronising and paternalist, just like the man said. Even when the chef in question is less irritating than Jamie Oliver. 

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, for example, comes across as a thoroughly nice chap, but I still find it hard to stomach the spectacle of this well-heeled old Etonian advising the poor on how to eke out their slender food budget a little further. It's all too Victorian, too Lady Bountiful dishing out improving platitudes and nourishing broth to the lower orders.

Having said that, Jamie might get on my nerves with his mockney mucker patter, but AFAIK, he's no "bully." Bullies punch down, but Jamie offers training to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who want careers in the restaurant business at his Westland Place restaurant and he took on the catering giants whose profits rested on feeding cut-price Turkey Twizzlers and similar muck to school kids. He might not be my cup of tea, but credit where it's due.

But what about his accuser, Alex Deane? Who's he?
The Independent has established that Alex Deane, a former chief-of-staff to David Cameron, played a key role in attempts to use the freedom of information law against one public organisation involved in promoting awareness against the health dangers of roll-up tobacco. Mr Deane is a director of Bell Pottinger which earlier this year requested documents from a health-awareness organisation funded by the NHS, the Bristol-based Smoke Free South West, following a campaign it ran against roll-up tobacco, which is popular in that part of the country.
I'm not sure that a Big Tobacco shill who's been using lawfare to silence critics is in any position to call Jamie Oliver is a bully, or to act all outraged over an "unpleasant campaign". Or that People Against Sugar Tax is definitely the grass roots campaign set up by ordinary people that it pretends to be.