Monday, January 15, 2007

Raindrops on roses

There’s a rather worrying story over on Nick Robinson’s blog. It seems that as part of the bid to make the Conservative Party appear nice, cuddly and ‘in touch’ with the voters, some of David Cameron’s policy wonks are considering how market forces might be used to tackle ‘social bads’.

Enthused by how carbon emissions trading is being advanced as a panacea to global warming, the party’s ‘Social Responsibility Summit’ has apparently come up with a similar wheeze. This time, it’s to ‘enable’ a trading scheme for companies which make alcoholic drinks or fatty foods and so restrict our consumption of said goods.

According to Dave, “It's still at quite a conceptual stage, but clearly emissions trading is working very well at putting a price on carbon, and reducing carbon emissions. So, the argument goes, well why not try and do this with some of the social bads as well as the environmental bads?" We are also invited to contrast this ‘market-oriented’ approach with Gordon Brown’s addiction to ‘state-control’.

I thought New Labour had taught us all there was to know about how to remove personal liberties in the name of freedom. However, it seems that here, in all its foulness, is the equivalent Tory verbal trick. Cameron might be all ‘raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens’ at the moment, but the desire to meddle in people’s lives seems to be as alive and well in the Tories as it is in New Labour.

I’m never entirely happy with the tendency in politics to try and legislate or ban things whenever a social problem rears its head, and that applies to my own party as well. However, trying to restrict the types of food which intelligent grown adults choose to feed themselves is an intrusion too far in my book.

Give us the facts about a healthy lifestyle by all means. But Dave, once we’ve made up our minds for ourselves, regardless of whether or not you approve, please just go away and leave us alone.

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