This story was on the radio yesterday and caught my attention due to my own personal health issues the last two months that I am currently working on, but it is also part of a wider issue that is starting to concern me now in Scotland, the UK, and even wider afield but I am less concerned about wider afield to be fair. The state are starting to get involved in areas of our lives more and more now which I believe is limiting our right to liberty, which is the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behaviour, or political views. In years past we used to scoff at places like the Soviet Union, China, and the old East Germany for the the lives that people lived under the secret Police and draconian laws, and yes before you ask what does this have to do with a fat tax I do have a point to make, all of these things add up over time don’t they.
Two things come out of even the smallest measures like a tax on fat and salt, personal responsibility and government intrusion into our lives. We already have minimum pricing on alcohol in Scotland and according to some people this has had a positive effect in Scotland with a 10% reduction in alcohol related deaths but there is evidence it has less effect on heavy drinkers but my point is state intervention in our daily lives. So while a fat and salt tax on food, like we have seen on fizzy drinks, may reduce the amount sold, especially for people on lower incomes, it is still the state dictating how we live out lives more and more each day, and that for me is not a good trend.
In Scotland right now local authorities can use anti-terror laws to spy on local residents, while we have some of the most intensive CCTV coverage in the world. More recently we have the Hate Crime Bill which according to the Scottish Police Federation the SNP Bill was intolerably vague, wide open to abuse, and could infringe people’s human rights. This has resulted in women being silenced in fear of speaking out for their own hard won sex based rights, and many new media bloggers being silenced to the extent that expressing an opinion on a range of issues from trans rights to the right of accusers in sexual crimes being protected while those found innocent are vilified and re-tried daily is now common in Scotland.
Today there is a debate going on in England, which will also effect Scotland, around the language used on social media by a very small minority targeting black English Football players at the Euro Finals for missing a penalty. England is not a racist country, it has seen a lurch to the right for sure under this disgusting Tory Government, but it is not a racist country. However any curbs on social media that a Tory Government brings in will effect us all and you can bet the current Scottish Government will seize the day to make it apply in Scotland as well, we have seen how far to the right the current SNP Government are, supported by the other parties in Holyrood.
Even this morning listening to the radio on my walk there was discussion about mandatory vaccination for Covid – 19 for large sections of our workforce and population if they want to be able to work or even attend a football match. None of this is a good thing. We can see that Government Ministers in both Scotland and England ignore the law when it suits, spend money raised for a referendum on their bills with no care in the world, this puts our democracy under threat while using their power to limit our freedoms, our right to choose, and our option of personal responsibility.
We all have a responsibility to listen more, talk less, and maybe we would be less angry. We all have a responsibility to look after our health, and to make a balanced and informed choice. No one forced myself to eat an unhealthy diet and not exercise to the extent that I became obese with very high blood pressure, I made that choice no one else, and I am the one who has to fix it and the last 8 weeks are some of the hardest I have had in my life as I work to make personal changes in my life.
However, the increasing levels of state intervention into our lives is a very very dangerous thing indeed, I believe it to be middle to upper class elitism, it allows both the Scottish and English Governments to curtail our rights, especially our right to freedom of speech and action, while also allowing themselves to hide behind laws designed to protect them and their pet minority interests, and their lies. It is not just about a FAT TAX, it is about sleep walking slowly but surely into a Police State. Many of us have been shocked by what we are finding in the new Scotland, yes we have to take personal responsibility for our actions and what we say, I do not dispute that, but when the state feels it has the right to dictate what we can do and say to the extent they are now we are in a bad place that will only get worse. It may be an extreme view but our very democracy, our right to choose, becomes limited to the extent that we have only the rights that suit the establishment and you can bet those will not be in our best interests it will be in theirs.
Scotland be warned.
But when does your behaviour cross that indistinct line from being a purely personal matter, to something that affects those around you? Above all in a society that has e.g. state health care, state pensions etc.? And who can and should decide such things? While I sympathise with you to some degree, I must admit I have no clear answer …
There are no clear answers but legislating can’t be the only way forward and education has to play a vital part. We need to change the narrative, the more we use the law to demand change the less people will change. It’s maybe carrot and stick, not passing on tax rises to the consumer but to the companies and force them to come up with healthy alternatives to how they produce food. Make sure that any additional tax from companies goes to services not to fund wars and bungs to the politicians or to the lawyers fighting government cases but they won’t do that as long as we allow them to curtail our liberties and get us to pay for it as well.
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You are right on the money Bruce.
Lifestyle is a personal choice. Ok, many are influenced by multinationals promoting their sugery and salty products but, at the end of the day, we are all adults and should be able to make our own decisions that impact our health for good and bad.
It should be down to education that teaches us the pros and cons regarding different kinds of nutrition. Then we select our preferred opt. This should be both in terms of health as well as things like not being a racists, sexist etc. Governments in England and Scotland seem to have given up on this and just wish to impose their view of perfect behaviour upon the masses. Not good.
I stopped taking sugar in my tea and coffee (as a bet) when I was 15 years old. I am 59 now and have never since taken sugar in my hot beveridges. I minimise salt intake. I do not abuse people of a different race, culture or creed. The sex of a person has no bearing on my level of respect for individuals.
All of that does not make me perfect. It merely shows that I have freedom to choose my personal habits and behave in a way that is socially acceptable in that I do not offend or insult people due to accidents of birth and nature.
We do not need a nanny state to manage our behaviour according to some social engineer’s textbook template.
Could not have written that better, I would just add that rather than pass costs onto the consumer pass the costs on to the companies to change how they produce food and ensure that all additional tax goes to services to do do things like educate, and if companies try to pass on the costs tax their shares and dividends. It won’t happen because it is easer to get the meek public to sleep walk into a Police state which can then be used to protect the politicians and the established, we really need to be careful in Scotland now that we have a right of centre government and a bunch of pretty much cowardly useless politicians.
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Indeed, while a mildly ‘nanny state’ may be acceptable to some degree, to save us from e.g. addictions which once acquired may be very hard to break free from alone, the danger is of course that the nanny state can slowly morph into your police state, especially given power-hungry politicians etc.
Will they not say, “Always hold on tight to Nurse, for fear of meeting something worse!” Whether justified or no?
Why not take the same path taken with cigarettes ban advertising and promoting the products to kids. By all means let individuals make the choices that are best for them but make sure the playing field is level first.
That is a good idea, wouldn’t hurt at all.
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The answer to the question of how much the state should interfere with our civil liberties is a perennial one. The UK generally had less than most. It is odd though that the conservative government who have decided that Covid is now a personal responsibility now want to intervene on a health issue. It’s easy to see why as Johnston himself faced health problems due to obesity. Having overcome them in no small part due to the elite status of being able to afford a better diet and support to change his ways, he reckons we should follow his example.
I haven’t read the story, but I’m assuming this is aimed at reducing the burden on the NHS over the longer term due to diabetes and hypertension. You have to wonder then why they are happy to let increased levels of long covid rip through society? After surrendering to covid they have moved onto a more controllable target to reassure us of their best intentions.
Government has often legislated when it wants behavioural change by subsidy or tax. Prohibition is easier than trying to change behaviour by argument. See the parallels with the recent franchise debate.
The Scottish government clearly see behaviour in society they don’t like and rather than debate and win by argument they legislate by authority. The authority given by the Scottish electorate. I don’t agree with it. I voted against them. That’s democracy. Maybe by 2026 the electorate will wise up.
Your analysis is of course correct but it appears to be getting used to change our liberties and that is a dangerous thing while at the same time removing personal responsibility which will make an already meek public even more meek and compliant, that is not a good thing in any democracy I don’t think. We also have the least trust worthy politicians in my life time, I would trust Thatcher more than Sturgeon and that says all anyone needs to know and what a sorry state of affairs to feel like that. We all need to wise up, not just here in Scotland, but everywhere as we are walking into a disaster of a type of Police State that is there to reinforce the will of the politicians and the companies using a variety of methods like low pay, poverty and draconian policy.
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The same person that backed the sugar tax a few years ago when it was first touted up until tories mentioned it. Why am I not surprised?
I actually supported minimum price on alcohol as well but we are going too far now when we have decided to use the law to that extent rather than invest in education and target the companies who make the food to such a low standard while making certain people poorer than they are even now while slowly but surely eroding liberties and choice which in turn will just build to the extent that we are no more than slaves to protect the politicians and the elite. When the facts change I change my mind, in a democracy that is allowed, however the politicians might not like that.
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The SG are not interested in challenging established power either in the UK state in politics, in land ownership, in the media, in finance or economic thinking. What does that Leave and how do you manufacture ‘progressive’ out of it?
You can’t can you, we are being led down a serious path and our own ignorance will be our downfall if we are not careful.
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Nicola ‘childless mother to the nation’ can have my fucking Cornetto when she pries it from my cold dead sticky hand. 🙂
I believe Henry Dimbleby has been very straight with this and is trying to do the right thing. But he’s on to buttons if he thinks he’ll get a sugar tax.
Why is there tons of sugar in your food? You can’t get away from it. I can’t remember the details, but it’s now easier to import cheap cane sugar from abroad, undermining UK sugar beet production. Who sponsored the Tory conference in 2017? Oh yes…… Tate and bloody Lyle. Now owned by a US corporation. I’m now out on a limb, but expect more glucose syrup in your food as well.
When they brought in the sugar tax for drinks, it eventually pushed almost all the brands into replacing sugar with artifical sweeteners, except one. Classic coke. Now if you want a fully sugared bottle of juice, your only choice is ubiquitious coke. Even our own Irn Bru gave up. They might as well just have banned the stuff outright and forced all those companies to offer only healthy products.
I think the same thing will happen to junk food – the sugar will start being replaced by artifical sweeteners. Search for news about Tate & Lyle in recent days, it looks like they’re hiving off the sugar division: “Tate & Lyle will focus on its food and beverage business that makes low-sugar, low-calorie ingredients that go into drinks, soups, sauces and bakery, while the new company will produce plant-based products for food and industrial markets.”
Why? Because using a minute quantity of aspartame costs 7 cents to produce the same level of sweetness as 55 cents of sugar. The government takes the blame for placing a further tax on sugar and the corporations hide behind that to make the switch, like when heroin dealers messed around with fentanyl(100x more potent than heroin) because it was easier to move around and combine with flour or baby powder or whatever shit they can buy from the supermarket.
It’s not about state intervention; it’s really about covering up corporate fraud. Fake sugar gets faker, their profit margins go up and people still get ill from overconsuming their products.
I won’t pretend to understand the science but I accept what you are saying.
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