Drinks company Diageo is to pay for 10,000 midwives in England and Wales to be trained to offer advice on the dangers of alcohol during pregnancy.
The Department of Health hopes the training initiative will in turn help more than one million expectant mothers over three years.
This sounds like pretty good news. I imagine that nearly all women are aware they should drink little or nothing during pregnancy already—indeed, only 4% do not reduce their drinking when they get pregnant—but no doubt there is more that could be done. So this sounds like a sensible scheme to prevent damage to unborn children, based on solid evidence that heavy drinking can cause Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.
The National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is very happy about it...
Susan Fleisher, from the charity, said the scheme would have have huge benefits.
"The thing that's so fantastic is that they're helping us with prevention, we can actually prevent children being born with foetal alcohol brain damage," she said.
"But it costs money, and thanks to Diageo we expect we will be educating in the next three years 10,000 midwives. Ultimately, if it all goes well, they will reach at least a million women."
Hurrah! Everyone's a winner and no need for bans, taxes or coercion. What kind of misery-guts could possibly find reason for gripe about this?
Vivienne Nathanson from British Medical Association said there were concerns over the scheme.
"They certainly have a conflict of interest because it's in the interest of the drinks industry for people to continue to drink and it's in the interest of health for people to drink much less, and certainly not to drink during pregnancy or to drink really minimally."
Only someone whose income has always comes from the state could interpret the role of business in such a simple-minded and misanthropic manner. As far as Nathanson is concerned, if it wasn't for the angels of government, the drinks industry would be telling pregnant women that drinking makes babies big and strong while selling whisky doped with heroin outside schools.
Because businesses only cares about profit, don'cha know? It's not as if they're run by men of flesh and blood who want the world to be a better place like the rest of us do. No, they want babies to be born retarded and adults to die of liver disease. And if this kills their customers and ruins their company's reputation, then so be it, because not only are business-owners fiendishly clever, they are—by a strange paradox—also incredibly stupid.
At least, that's how it is if your understanding of business started and ended when you read a book by Naomi Klein, as seems to be the case with most 'public health professionals'.
There is an element of sour grapes here because, as I mentioned in March, a bunch of fake charities and temperance groups—including the BMA—spat their dummy out and "walked away from the table" in protest at the government including industry in these discussions. And a good thing too. The policy announced today is the kind of reasonable, effective and efficient use of money they would have dismissed out of hand.
Over at The Guardian—where naysayers dominate the news story—none other than Anna Gilmore, professor of no fixed ability, tries to join in the industry-bashing...
But Prof Anna Gilmore, a public health expert from Bath University, said there was a fundamental conflict of interest in the "responsibility deal". She said: "These large corporations, whether they sell tobacco, food or alcohol, are legally obliged to maximise shareholder returns. They therefore have to oppose any policies that could reduce sales and profitability – in other words, the most effective policies."
Sorry? Corporations are "legally obliged" to maximise shareholder returns? I know Labour made a lot of laws when they were in power but I hadn't heard of this one. Have there been many prosecutions? Do business get raided by police if they launch a duff product? Are there advertising executives languishing in jail for making poor use of the marketing budget?
Or is this just more proof of Anna Gilmore's estrangement from reality? It's almost as if she's being sponsored to go around getting things wrong on as many different subjects as she can. No wonder Uncle Stan looks so proud.
UPDATE: Leggy has more on this, including a gem of a quote from that massive hypocrite Don Shenker.