At the End of the Day


In the Kingdom of the Left, the one-eyed man is Kuckoo

Andy ‘shagger’ Burnham is a fully signed-up member of that club memorably referred to by Rupert Everett as “f**king New Labour idiots”. The former Health Secretary (who gave Trust Status to Stafford Hospital when it was almost a clone of Dachau concentration camp) is pure Big State Left: if a cultural symptom pops up to question the precepts of the liberal progressive tendency, we can rely a hundred per cent on him to demand legislation.

He proved this once again yesterday by arguing that the only answer to the ill-disciplined blobbiness of our population is to bash the manufacturers of things they like. “My voting franchise requires a winch to get them to the polling booth, and is dying off at a disturbing rate. So it is only fair and right that the commercial sectors responsible for their state should face yet another illiberal, interfering law.” Standard fare among the ranks of those who believe the only thing to blame, ever, is capitalism and its consumer society.

Obesity is caused by many things, sometimes in concert, sometimes not. They include poor parental examples, depression, unemployment, life traumas, appallingly low self-esteem, pack sizes deliberately designed to provoke greed, lack of exercise, poor health education (and food) at school, and above all, a hopeless lack of self-discipline. The obligatory and regular study (and use) of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) in schools would be a good start. Listening to Jamie Oliver would help too. But the key requirement here is a culture shock of the kind Andy Burnham could barely imagine, let alone think about or recommend. As a card-carrying Pointless Pol, his solution to everything is either “pass a law” or “make sure you never sign anything”. More legislation is the last thing we need.

I do agree with those who argue that, given cultural transformation is a long-term fix, we should get something moving in the meantime. I am not a fan of “there’s so much to do, I don’t know where to start, so I wont”, but please Andrew you limp tosser – enough with the Statute Book already. This is a case for the unique Slogarithmic approach to taxation based on anti-social behaviour, not something arbitrary like a person’s salary.

Here’s how it will work once you anoint me as your Lifetime Emperor of the Old People’s Republic of Dorvon: tell the manufacturers  they can distribute as many goliath-sized Mars bars and pizzas as they like, but the product will be taxed heavily at retail, and further draconian taxes levied upon the makers as a corporation tax supplement. This supplement will be high in nastiness, and low in shareholder value. And there will be no lobbying against it, because on Day One of the Slogonian Empire, all commercial lobbying of Government will be punishable by public toenail-pulling, rounded off with ritual disembowelment.

Thus weebly-wobblies will still wibble into shops in the hope of buying laptop-sized Yorkie bars, but there won’t be any there…..because the bean counters over in Slough or wherever will have decreed the production of something high in healthiness, and low in taxiness. It’s also very likely that the accountants will save further production costs by leaving out the anti-bug elements in the formulation, thus producing an outbreak of listeria sufficient to cull most of the target audience – and bankrupt the Marestlé corporation. All’s well that ends well in Slogonia, where the order of the day is Sell them More Rope, and they will Hang Themselves.

There can be no gain without pain for those who wish to live a balanced life during which lessons are learned. And in such a world, there would be no place for either Stalinist pillocks who see the population as little more than fodder, or neocon sociopaths who see all tax as theft. The old adage applies as ever: a little less blame and a little more responsibility, a little less denialism and a lot more accountability.

Earlier at The Slog: Why the gloves are coming off in the battle for mercantile supremacy