From sugar to cigarette packaging, when will Labour let people decide for themselves?

Be warned: if Ed Miliband gains power, the nanny state will take over

Nigel Farage
Thursday 15 January 2015 18:25
Comments
Miliband wants ‘discipline’, not ‘advice’ from his colleagues
Miliband wants ‘discipline’, not ‘advice’ from his colleagues

So utterly devoid of real policy solutions, and so helplessly out of touch with what the British public are concerned about, the Labour Party are now turning their hands to banning what they call “high levels of fat, sugar, and salt” in food. Apparently, they launched the policy at an event where they served sugary fruit juice, chocolate brioche, and buttery croissants. You couldn’t make it up.

But beyond Labour’s rank hypocrisy and lack of focus on the key issues of the day, we have to acknowledge that before one vote has been cast in the General Election, Mr Miliband is already planning on a major resurgence of the nanny-state ideals that we saw flourish under Mr Blair and Mr Brown.

“Children will need better protection from the pressures of modern living,” the Labour Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, has said. I agree, we shouldn’t shovel sweets and fizzy drinks into the mouths of kids – but here I was thinking this was a matter for parents, rather than one for government.

Correct me if I’m wrong, and I’m sure I’ll be lectured on this by some interventionist “do-gooder” – but it’s not really for government to decide what is available to adults on supermarket shelves.

This, by the way, from a Labour Party who not six months ago was telling us that our energy prices should be frozen. More government intervention – and in a market that has seen the price of Brent Crude drop 50 per cent over the last six months. Effectively, Labour wanted to freeze energy prices at their annual peak. It reminds you of Mr Brown’s economic incompetence. Remember, he was the man who sold Britain’s gold reserves at the lowest price he could have possibly obtained.

It’s not like we should be surprised that Labour are so shoddy on these issues. Mr Miliband was Gordon Brown's Energy Secretary. He brought in the swathes of green levies that pushed people’s energy bills up, and now he wants to freeze them there. In short, what people will be voting for if they vote Labour in May, is a return to 2008. I don’t need to remind you what a troublesome time that was for so many people.

They apply this “You can’t look after yourselves” logic to almost every policy proposition they have. Take smoking for example: you can't enjoy a cigarette if you as an adult so choose to, despite the numerous health warnings we’ve had for decades. So Labour banned it indoors. But that wasn’t enough. Now we have graven images on all cigarette packages, and they’ve got to be locked away in cupboards in the supermarkets so that we can’t see them. As if looking at a packet of cigarettes is what drives people to smoke.

But that wasn’t enough either. Now, Labour, along with most Tories, I might add, want to stop cigarette companies having any branding on their packets at all. Plain packaging, they call it. I call it a deliberate and nonsensical imposition on a market worth around £12bn to the Treasury, and which keeps around 66,000 people in jobs.

But forget the financials, or the employment figures, as Labour are so willing to do. Instead, let’s focus on the evidence. Does plain packaging really stop people smoking? The best example we have is in Australia, where since plain packaging was introduced in 2012, household expenditure on tobacco has actually increased. And so has the black market in cigarettes.

These are the effects of banning things that should be readily available to responsible adults in a free society. Not, as the meddlesome politicians will try to tell you, a response that they would like to see. But rather quite the opposite.

I’m not saying we’re about to see a black market in Frosties in the UK. But if we examine the evidence before us, Labour’s plans to interfere in people’s private and hopefully responsible choices can scarcely be thought of as a positive contribution to the country. And what’s next? Regulating the price of a loaf of bread?

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