It’s your fault that you’re so fat and poor

Rather than control the excesses of big business, this Government prefers to make snobby comments about people eating in front of the telly

Share

While the Prime Minister has been lecturing Europe about our proud island race, his ministers have been telling a rather different, and sadder, story.

Anna Soubry, the minister for public health, has identified the cause of childhood obesity, a ballooning problem in Britain. It is poverty. Her colleague Hugh Robertson, faced with another poverty-related sickness, that of addictive gambling, has delivered a similarly brilliant analysis. This was “one of those quite tricky areas”.

The message is consistent. Exploitation of the poor by big business? Sorry, nothing to do with us. The fear among politicians that they might be accused of nannyist interfering is now so deep-seated that none has the courage to point out the obvious. Problems need solutions. It is what governments are for.

The situation in both cases is clear enough. On one side of our society, there are rapacious business interests who have the brainwashing power of the new technology to help market their wares. On the other, there are millions whose only escape from the despair of their lives is to consume and to gamble.

Anna Soubry made her cheap, class-based comment in a speech to the Food and Drink Federation. The children of the poor used to be “skinny runts”, she mused nostalgically. Now they are likely to be unhealthily fat. Being a good Conservative, she knew exactly who to blame. It was not the greedy food companies and supermarkets at fault, but parents who failed to cook nicely and eat family meals together. Why, some of them did not even have a dining-room table! “They will sit in front of telly and eat.”

Here is the true, fat-bottomed apathy of a Government which prefers to make snobbish remarks about people eating while watching TV (and who doesn’t, by the way?) rather than controlling the excesses of big business. Money matters in the Britain of 2013. The few areas of the economy which are expanding now are fast food – McDonald’s announced 2,500 new jobs this year – and gambling, both of which profit where there is least money. The minister responsible for gaming and bookies, Hugh Robertson, has taken the same position as his colleague in the Department of Health. The problem lies with the weakness of individuals.

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling may have shown that addictive gambling is worst in areas of high unemployment – Rochdale, for example, with sky-high unemployment pours £340 per head of population into the gambling machines of its betting shops every year – but all the Government need do is to commission an “investigation” from the Responsible Gambling Trust. It seems that bookies and casinos, like fast food merchants, have loyal friends in Government – and to hell with the human consequences.

www.terenceblacker.com

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Female Support Workers / Carers - From £8.00 per hour

£8 - £12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To assist a young family with the care ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Executive is required...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

£55000 - £70000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world lead...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world leading services pr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Police officers attempt to stop illegal migrants from jumping onto trucks headed for Britain in the northeastern French port of Calais on October 29, 2014  

Tighter security in Calais won’t solve the problem

Nigel Morris
 

Football needs its Martin Luther moment, and soon

Boyd Tonkin
US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines