First up, before you read this and think “What’s he doing now?!”, I’ve been asked to write this piece and it’s a bit of fun – I’m not campaigning for a political role. But since I’ve been asked, here’s a snapshot of what my Britain would look like if I were Prime Minister. Quite simply, public health and well-being would be at the heart of all policy, consistently, across everything. I believe that if you get that right, then the effects of optimal happiness, confidence and productivity would be widely felt, making us not only one of the healthiest countries in Europe, but also one of the most creative and prosperous. As a nation, we can only be as good as what we eat. So what does the future look like?
Getting the nation to eat more vegetables and fruit would not only give us a radically different health prognosis but would be better for the environment, too. To help and inspire people to eat at least five a day, there would be zero VAT on all fresh vegetables and fruit. I’d give more support to organic, small, family farmers. All supermarket deals and promotions for processed foods would have to be matched with ones for fresh ingredients, to make it a level playing field and encourage people to cook from scratch. And we’d have the clearest and most honest food labelling in the world.
If public health were central, food and agriculture would be removed from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with America. The only way is up – we want to go forwards, not back. There would be some sort of soda tax, and that money would be ring-fenced and split between a robust board of education and health experts, passionate about prevention. My revulsion at seeing the effects of infants drinking caffeine-laden energy drinks would drive me to put health warnings and age-restrictions on the sale of all energy drinks.
Civic food in every hospital and old people’s home would be consistently good and nourishing, and poor quality fast-food outlets would certainly not be allowed to operate in the basements of government property or right next to schools. As our population gets older, we need to have greater respect for people in their 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond, and also tap into their wisdom and experience.
More resources would be put into supporting women to eat well in pregnancy and to enable mums to breastfeed. The health benefits for the child are great. Breastfeeding helps to protect mums from certain cancers, and breast milk is a fully sustainable resource that we should value.
Election Analysis: The Key Voters
Election Analysis: The Key Voters
1/6 Settled Silvers
These are the comfortably-off over-60s, still in work or drawing a decent pension – or both – who are enjoying their entitlements such as the Winter Fuel Allowance, free bus passes and free TV licence. They are worried about immigration and Europe. Both the Conservatives – who are pledging to keep benefits for wealthier pensioners – and Ukip want their votes
2/6 Squeezed Semis
Slightly older than the Harassed Hipsters, they are the second key group for Labour’s family-focused election strategy. They are married couples on low to middle incomes who own unpretentious semi-detached homes in suburban areas. In 2001, these were the Pebbledash People sought by the Conservatives. Now the pebbledash is gone and a modest conservatory has been built at the back
3/6 Aldi Woman
In 1997 and 2001 she was Worcester Woman – a middle-class Middle Englander shopping at Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. Today, the age of austerity means she still goes to Waitrose for her basic food shop but cannily switches to Aldi for her luxury bargains such as Parma ham and prosecco. Identified by Caroline Flint, she is a key target of both Labour and the Conservatives
4/6 Glass Ceiling Woman
In her thirties or forties, she has an established career under her belt, perhaps in the “marzipan layer” – one position below the still male-dominated senior executive level. She is now, according to Nick Clegg, forced into making the “heart-breaking choice” between staying at home to bring up her children and going to work and forking out for high-cost, round-the-clock childcare
5/6 Harassed Hipsters
One of the two key groups identified by Labour as crucial to hand Ed Miliband the keys to Downing Street. Well-paid professional couples, often with children, they live in diverse urban and metropolitan areas rather than the suburbs. More comfortably off than most swing voters, they are time poor – struggling to balance raising a young family with busy work schedules
These are mainly first-time voters, though some are in their twenties – students and digital-age generation renters helping to fuel the “Green Surge”. Idealists, but with no tribal loyalty to any party, they are anti-austerity, middle class, living in urban areas. Despite studying at university or recently graduated, they are struggling to find decent jobs and want cheaper housing and a higher minimum wage
I’m well aware that this is a controversial area but we shouldn’t be afraid to discuss and debate it because the evidence shows that a lot of mums want to breastfeed. We have international codes to protect infant feeding. We should put these into law and stop the advertising of unnecessary products which undermine breastfeeding – such as follow-on formula. Greater day-care subsidy for working parents would also be high on my list.
Outside of the food industry there’s plenty to focus on, too. I believe if the right routes exist, kids should be allowed to leave school at 14 to take up an apprenticeship. My experience at Fifteen restaurant has proved that intervening at an early stage and providing young, at-risk people with good role models, inspiration and a path to follow really is worthwhile in preventing them ending up as a statistic in jail. The Head of Education would be a teacher, not a transient politician, and they woud be led and incentivised in a more entrepreneurial way. There would be clear standards on packed lunches – the current situation undermines teachers and school cooks.
I’d ban chewing gum until they can invent one that doesn’t make every street in Britain look like a bomb site. I’d buy back the train network, the electricity network, and the water network and only charge cost prices. And I’d add a few more bank holidays – they’re good for family time and cultural richness. I also want to save a bit of energy by turning national wi-fi off on a Sunday so that parents can get their kids back for the day. I’d increase the speed limit on certain roads, mainly the ones I drive home on. I’d bring back Crackerjack, PJ & Duncan and Tales of the Unexpected, and I’d subsidise good pillows.
Now don’t be tempted to start picking holes in my manifesto. This is just a flavour. But the reality is that my Britain would be a tastier, healthier, happier, cleaner place to live. And as far as representing the modern woman goes, rest assured I am your man. A) I’m in touch with my feminine side, B) I appreciate being fashion-forwards, and C) I can only function surrounded by 80 per cent women, so you’d be well represented.
To sign and share Jamie’s Petition for Better Food Education go to change.org/jamieoliverReuse content