Wednesday 14 September 2022

Dare to dream

Has the Tory party finally found a leader with sound convictions and the bottle to get things done? The early signs are encouraging. Today's Guardian front page laments that...

Liz Truss could scrap anti-obesity strategy in drive to cut red tape

Exclusive: Health officials ‘aghast’ as review launched of measures to deter people from eating junk food

... The review is so radical in scope that it may even look at whether the sugar tax, which began in 2018 and has helped make soft drinks much less unhealthy, should go too. Health experts have hailed the levy as a key initiative in the fight against dangerous obesity.


Civil servants being aghast is a good thing when they work for what used to be known as Public Health England. Everyone from the Institute for Government to the Soil Association is horrified by the idea of an ineffective, regressive tax being ditched.
I've written about this for Spiked...

The sugar tax has achieved the square root of diddly squat while extracting £1 billion from the pockets of hard-pressed consumers and ruining the taste of several cherished soft-drink brands. For a prime minister focused on deregulation, lowering taxes and the cost of living, getting rid of it is an obvious place to start.

If Truss does scrap the tax, she will inevitably face fierce resistance from ‘The Blob’. The usual state-funded pressure groups and media midwits are already up in arms at the mere suggestion, as are the activist-bureaucrats who run the Department of Health. Although the sugar tax has only existed for four years and patently has no value as a public-health measure, you would think Truss was considering a ban on penicillin from the hysteria in some quarters.

Useless and regressive, the sugar tax was – to quote Jamie Oliver – a ‘symbolic’ measure. Its repeal would be no less symbolic. It would show that after getting through four prime ministers in six years, the Conservative Party had finally landed on a leader who genuinely believes in free markets and personal freedom. It would show that the nanny-state lobby does not always have to win, that Britain is not condemned to ever-more restrictive lifestyle regulation and that there is an exit on the road to serfdom. If Truss picks this battle, she will have my sword, and I hope yours, too.


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