Naked truth about naked chef’s sour victory

LP Columnist Barry Freeman
LP Columnist Barry Freeman
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Say what you like about bandy Chancellor George Osborne’s sugar tax, it certainly made Jamie Oliver feel a great sense of achievement and, at the end of the day, isn’t that why we’re all here?

To help that posh mockney work on his halo? Ha ha, no, of course not. Perish the thought, and let no amount of Oliver’s jumping about like an oaf on Westminster green high-fiving himself on live TV convince you that this policy is anything other than a pig in a poke.

One which is both depressing – in that it reveals the extent to which celebrities with a cause are able to influence public policy – and frustrating – as, like the once vaunted minimum price for alcohol, it concerns itself with symptoms rather than Britain’s wider malaise. Of course, Jamie might say the reason people on lower incomes eat badly and drink too much sugary gloop is that they are ill-educated in matters nutritional. If only they could be persuaded to watch his TV shows or buy more of his books the problem might simply melt away.

And if they won’t? Why, simply hit them in the pocket!

Of course, what neither the multi-millionaire chef nor the multi-millionaire Toryboys following his lead care to grasp is that the majority of junk food consumed hereabouts is taken on board chiefly, I suspect, as consolation.

A series of relatively cheap pleasures brightening lives otherwise full of gloom and hardship. So much of what constitutes employment in this country is hard, thankless and utterly unrewarding, financially or spiritually.

Housing for the poor, both working and not, is in an appalling state, and swiping an ever larger share of disposable income.

Add in the fact that failing public services are turning swathes of high density population into litter-strewn, crumbling ghettoes, and is it any wonder people take solace in ‘treats’ which do them long term harm? Put another way, a bin-lid Iceland pizza washed down with a drum of Coke might not actually improve your lot, but you likely feel happier while you chow down. Put even simpler, people pressed into poor lives do poor things to escape, even for a few moments.

Soon, thanks to Jamie et al, it will cost them more. That the proceeds of this raid will then be handed as sports grants to corporate scoundrels by then running our schools is merely sour icing on a bitter cake.