Magazine article The Spectator

Health Fascists

Magazine article The Spectator

Health Fascists

Article excerpt

Scarcely a day passes without some bossy New Labour drone appearing on the radio either to announce yet another ban on something or to demand tougher regulations. Today on Radio Four is normally their preferred platform because of its higher audiences, but they'll happily settle for The World at One, PM or The World Tonight. The midday You and Yours on Radio Four is another of their favoured outlets. One gets the impression they're usually whining women, perhaps because of the more deleterious effects on the ear, but one can think of plenty of Labour men who yearn to prohibit or regulate our private behaviour, from riding horses in the harmless pursuit of vermin, or banning all smoking in public places, through to smacking uncontrollable brats.

In fact, I've lost count of the number of things they've wanted to control or stop us doing since they came to power. In recent months, though, I've noticed that obesity is all the rage with the New Labour Roundheads. They can nationalise our diets! Dutifully following the government's lead, the politically-correct producers of The Archers soap on Radio Four introduced 'concerns' about overweight children by having Kathy Perks complaining about the menus at her son's junior school. One has to remember, I suppose, that there's a whole quasi-governmental industry out there to support: the public-sector health researchers and various government-funded pressure-groups. There is even something rather pompously called the National Obesity Forum, which presumably has a lot of earnest bores sitting around talking about fat people and producing papers urging a ban on chocolate in schools and food advertising aimed at children.

One of its prime specimens, Dr Ian Campbell, appeared on Straw Poll on Radio Four last Saturday to debate the motion: we should not attempt to legislate against obesity. The presenter Nick Clarke began by saying that 'we are apparently in the midst of an obesity epidemic', according to a Commons health select-committee report. Most children, the report said, failed to reach the 'minimum' target of two hours physical activity each week. Well, well; I wonder if selling off playing fields and the Labour-dominated education establishment's dislike of competitive games might have something to do with it? Campbell, needless to say, wanted legislation to curtail food advertising aimed at children, and no doubt a host of other government measures. He was supported by Nicky Cooper of the British Heart Foundation, who also believed that thinness could be arrived at through legislation. …

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