Sour taste over sugary treats

This week, a group of schoolchildren were invited to the Welsh Assembly to discuss the sugar tax. They chatted, debated, and came to the conclusion that the only way that they, and other children, could be protected from tooth decay and diabetes was by enforcing the tax.

Now, it’s great to see children being encouraged to take an interest in politics. And no, I’m not petty enough to care that a bunch of children disagree with me on a political policy (LITTLE BASTARDS!).

What I do care about, is the fact that more and more adults using the same logic as these 8-year-olds.

“The nation needs a far more intensive mix of nannying and nudging if we are to even think about defeating the modern curse of obesity,” argued Ian Birrell for The Independent.

“The specifics of sugar’s impact on our health are such that we can’t do ‘self-control’” claimed Sarah Wilson in The Guardian.

These arguments betray something about their authors, a complete lack of trust in other people.

To be clear, I don’t mean to minimise the reality of widespread national obesity: every year more than 57,000 children become obese during primary school. Nor do I mean to downplay the extent to which high-sugar drinks are bad for your health: drink enough of the stuff and you will almost certainly harm your health.

But there’s a key word in there: “you”.

Knocking back a can of Coke it won’t give your sister diabetes. Sipping from a bottle of Fanta won’t raise your neighbour’s blood pressure. And drinking three litres of Sprite a day it won’t turn your friends into lard buckets.

Drinking a soft drink is a personal choice. And we have to trust people to be able to make personal choices.

Guzzling high-sugar drinks is a health decision, like drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes or playing sport. It only effects the individual and the government has no business placing a ‘sin tax’ on it or any other activity.

Your body is the ultimate private property. If you can’t do what you want to it without government interference, you really don’t have freedom at all. The idea that smokers or boozers or Pepsi drinkers need to be punitively taxed into the ‘correct’ health choices is condescending in two ways.

One, it assumes that government officials know better than you how you should live your life. And two, it implies that, even if the government does know better than you, you can’t be trusted to get the message through education. That you can’t be taught and informed. It implies that the only way to drill the message through your thick skull is by punishing you.

It’s one thing when kids treat each other like kids. But it’s absolutely heart-breaking to see adults treating other adults like children.
Luke Terry

The joyless council jobsworths strike again!


What a joyless, pitiful, over regulated and petty country we’ve become. Okay, so this isn’t the most important, Earth shattering example of it but it is a bit of an real eye roller, of the “bloody typical” kind. The “happiest lollipop man in the world”, one Mr. Mdikane, ensures the pupils of Aitkenbar Primary school in Dumbarton cross the road safely. Not only that but he puts a smile on their faces and that of their parents and passing motorists. That’s right, a singing, dancing, laughing, joking, high-fiving lollipop man! The children love him, in-fact you can well imagine they look forward to walking up to the spot where Mr. Mdikane is, so much so that they always cross safely with him rather than rushing to cross elsewhere. When they get there they are greeted with a cheerful grin and a high five, what fun! A great example of good old British eccentricity from this chippy emigrant from Vereeniging, South Africa who chooses to work as a lollipop man after retirement. Good on him.

Well, he won’t be singing, dancing or high fiving any more. The joyless busybody regulators of the council have spoken. Now the local authority has insisted that he should immediately cease all expressions of personality and repress any individuality that has seeped into his job, lollipop men should “remain static with one hand on their stick and the other stretched outwards”. This is despite the fact he has been doing this for two years with absolutely no issues and has become something of a local hero. Having previously praised his “excellent service” West Dunbartonshire Council have imposed the singing, dancing, high-fiving ban due to safety reasons…. there has been no issues of safety, no accidents, no problems, but that doesn’t matter to this most dubious of authorities.

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Councillors used to give up their time voluntarily out of a sense of duty and a desire to serve their community, then in the 90’s they began to draw a salary.Then my,my, didn’t they begin to think they were jolly important. Councillors with delusions of significance, their battalions of high-vis jacketed busy bodies and their jobsworth regulatory instinct. They have become ever more self-important and self-aggrandising, believing more and more in their imagined authority. They are busy bodying all over the place ready to slap on a parking ticket, tell you what you can and cannot do in a public space and demanding you hold a licence to do this and that. Would a voluntary council willingly serving their community be so joyless and pathetically uncompromising as to ban Mr. Mdikane from putting a smile on children’s faces against the wishes of the people he, and all the councillors, work for?

Okay, so you could argue that the job has a clearly defined role, and there are rules and guidelines etc. etc. But then I think, didn’t he do his job while also going above and beyond? For goodness sake, get a grip, why did they not just think, ‘well, its unconventional but what is the harm?’ instead of being so mean spirited, so pettily uncompromising. Again, it doesn’t seem that important, does it? But that’s how it happens, its incremental. Don’t do that becomes don’t do this, or this, nor that. For safety reasons, for health reasons, for security reasons, or just… well, because I they say so.






Do not stop being angry: Ashya King and the Parental State

The sinister interference of the British state into family life grows ever more contemptible. Such notions as an Englishman’s home being his castle, the right to privacy and , yes, the right of a family to freely choose what is best for their child are privileges made of dust that crumble on closer inspection. This should come as no surprise to anyone. This after all is a country that actually had a “minister for children”, surely a candidate for the creepiest title of government official ever devised and certainly a clue to just how much of a domineering nosy parker the British government has become. The dogma of statism has won and advocates of liberty have lost. It will take an unlikely counter revolution to turn back the cultural tide.

Britain adopted the pernicious leftist instinct to weaken the family in order to strengthen the state long ago. The independent family unit is the fortress of private life; it fosters individuality and protects the inheritance of culture and tradition. This will not do. A powerful state prefers conformism, malleable minds and a dependent citizenry.

A strong family is self-reliant and protective and so is a rival to state power, hence why leftist revolutionaries always strive to break it; because they prefer the all wise, all knowing and all powerful parental state. It is an ideological impulse that leaked through the iron curtain and has infected our society ever since. It is incidents like the maltreatment of Ashya King’s parents that bring this reality into the public consciousness, but there is little excuse for being surprised by this latest development.

The evidence is there for anyone who wishes to see it. The state has long been telling us how to raise our children, from discipline to education, great battalions of advisers are employed at our expense to dispense advice on how to protect us from ourselves, and protect children from their parents. No matter that their advice is often lousy, or discredited, and that the hypocritical governing elites themselves employ nannies and servants to do their parenting for them. If we are deemed to have gone astray the state reserves the right to take away our children and assign them new parents if necessary.

In my time volunteering for a health and social care charity I met many distraught and spiritually dead parents who had been told that they would never see their children again. Such decisions rest on the unchallenged wisdom of the social services and the unaccountable divisions of child snatchers that work in secrecy out of public view. They are subject to no sceptical, independent, evidence based review of their effectiveness and their word is taken as gospel. Hearsay and accusations without evidence can be enough for a family to be broken up forever.

Parents are not given the privilege of the presumption of innocence but are treated like criminals regardless. Parliamentary figures show that the number of application for care orders average over 8,000 a year and of those only around 0.2% are refused. Are some of these justified in the interest of child safety? Of course, but a great many are not, and this responsibility is given to a service that is constantly proving itself to be dangerously incompetent, inefficient and even malevolent. The only time they are subject to pubic scrutiny is when they make yet another mistake that leads to child abuse or death.

The state is also our educator, and its role as teacher is so deeply engrained in our society now that even the recent minimal introduction of autonomy and parental choice has been met with resistance and difficulty. The liberal left especially hates such ideas, its not enough to have a national curriculum imposed and a national inspectorate, they want the peering eye of the local authority in every classroom too. You cannot even escape by educating your child at home as they will soon be knocking on your door and demanding to cross the threshold with refusal leading to legal action. It is illegal to open new grammar schools (that stream by ability) despite their popularity with parents, because the parental state has made this choice for us and has insisted that its ideological devotion to egalitarianism cannot be violated. Not that this devotion stretches to the lives of the political elite, because MPs and ministers send their children to private and elitist faith schools.

The tax system, as we know, has become a social engineering tool. Rather than families being allowed to make their life choices independently they are shaped by the guiding hand of government. There is no longer any need for young women to take any personal responsibility when taking the risk of becoming pregnant and it doesn’t matter if the dad is a total dead beat either. There are a great many financial incentives for becoming a dependent and accepting the state as the breadwinner. We now know all too well the disastrous influence this has had. As Adele, the talented singer laced with an instinctive conservatism, once said: ‘The ambition at my state school was to get pregnant and sponge off the government […] that ain’t cool.’ All taxpayers are forced to subsidise this policy which makes personal responsibility and self-reliance unnecessary while strengthening the parental state.

Meanwhile a unified family unit is punished economically if it decides to forgo a double income in order to raise the child at home. The government wants your baby to be raised in a nursery and encourages this vigorously, and oh so generously, by offering *ahem* “free” childcare (that we all pay for through taxation, duh). This is nothing more than a bribe with our own money to make it push us into the life style choice that it prefers, which is the baby in a state approved nursery being raised outside of the family and the parents both back to work as soon as possible to add to GDP.

We should, of course, all be free to make our own decisions on whether to raise a child at home, or return to work, that is up to the individual. But is it right for the state to use a punitive tax system to effectively make this decision for us? Anyone visiting this website will surely answer in the negative.

I am trying to highlight just how many tentacles the state has, and how they have penetrated further and further into every area of our lives, every aspect of our existence, and how its attempts to usurp the family can be easily traced in a recognisable pattern. So, let me return to the plight of Ashya King and his beleaguered parents. It exposes to us all the suspicion with which the family is viewed by state officials.

Two loving parents were suddenly turned into criminals in the eyes of the law because they dared to defy the great monolith, the National Health Service. They were treated like unhinged kidnappers. The officials involved ensured they were portrayed as if off their rocker. It was implied they possible religious nuts, or just plain neglectful. The media frenzy and the international alert and subsequent manhunt would ordinarily be reserved for dangerous killers, it was absolute hysteria. Luckily the media turned when the received more information and helped disarm the zealous police and NHS. What if none of this had been reported? I dread to think where they would be now.

After finally being released from the Spanish prison where he had been held without charge, for no good reason at all, Brett King was unapologetic and unequivocal: ‘They were going to kill him in England or turn him into a vegetable.’ Basically, they were not happy with the treatment being received under the NHS or the arrogance of the doctors unwilling to listen to their questions. They were fearful of the horrible side effects of the treatment he was receiving which they had been told could leave him brain damaged or deaf, if it even worked. And so these desperate parents researched an alternative treatment called “proton beam radiotherapy” which is used in much of Europe and the USA. It is thought to give better long term outcomes but is not available on the NHS.

When the Kings dared to question NHS orthodoxy the doctors refused outright to refer their son for alternative treatment, or to transfer his paper work, and threatened to issue a control order and remove Ashya from their custody. The parents made the decision to sell their Spanish holiday home and pay for the treatment privately in Prague (where doctors have since been very positive about the potential for the successful treatment of Ashya). The Kings still insist that they informed doctors of their intentions. It made no difference, the full force of the authoritarian parental state kicked in, and only a huge public backlash forced the very belated involvement of politicians and the eventual release of Brett and Naghmeh King from prison, without charge.

It was shocking, terrifying and enraging but it is simply part of the statist culture; the assertion that parents cannot be trusted to raise their own children and state officials have unquestionable right to overrule them. We have since learned how wrong they were, and how inaccurate the unpleasant propaganda campaign against them was. They were not acting wildly and irresponsibly, they were making a free choice that they thought best for their son.

Unfortunately, because the choice was to turn their back on the “envy of the world” NHS, that has Cancer survival rates that linger well behind most western European countries, they were depicted as neglectful parents and kidnappers. Remember all the alarming talk of how Ashya could die at any time because they did not have the necessary equipment? Well, they did have that equipment after all. We being covered in a slurry of lies.

What crime did these parents commit except assuming they had authority as parents? Are they not free to travel where they please and to seek out alternative medical treatment? When the dust settles people will forget all about this. They will stop musing over the fact that state officialdom has revealed to us all quite explicitly that they believe it is their right to expunge our liberty at will. That they have the power to arbitrarily overrule the parents rights over their own children.

Anyone who cared to notice already knew this, but the wider public should not allow their outrage to subside because although this case has been resolved, the authoritarian culture that created it has not been. This is a culture in which the parental state mistrusts the family and encourages us all to be suspicious of parents through propagandistic, fear mongering campaigns. They are designed to convince us to presume guilt, to believe that the family is always potentially a corrupting influence and parents a threat to their children. In such a culture of fear where are we encouraged to turn? Why, to the big, strong embrace of the wise and benevolent parental state, of course.