It’s been a busy old year for Jamie Oliver and his miserable band of anti-sugar, anti-salt and anti-fun campaigner friends. They’ve been making a list and checking it twice, and believe you me you will have been found naughty, not nice.
But I’ve been making a list too. A list of everything the nanny statists want to ban, want to tax, and want to remove.
Where better to start than Christmas? One of his group’s greatest successes this year was the introduction and enforcement of the ban on advertising anything quangocrats at Public Health England found too salty or sweet for those under sixteen years old. They tested this out at Easter, when they got the advertising ombudsman to tell Cadbury’s their Easter Egg Hunt using the Easter Bunny was unlawful.
So, if your child has found some chocolate coins in their stockings, you’ve got florentines on the sitting room table where little hands can grab them, or you’ve let your little darling have the tub of Pringles then I’m afraid you’ve been a very bad person. God forbid you’ve bought them a Lindt chocolate Santa.
A campaign, of course, is not just for Christmas, and they started early this year. In January Jamie Oliver attempted to force the government to ban energy drinks. Not only did they contain sugar, they contained caffeine. Fortunately there are still MPs with sense in the Commons as they decided against a ban – noting that both tea and coffee also regularly contain these too.
In May, it was cereals that irked them as they called for the likes of Tony the Tiger and the Honey Monster to be banned from cereal boxes lest they tempt young minds with their promise of actually enjoying their breakfast (while Mr Oliver used a cartoon to promote his own high-sugar, high-salt and high-fat muffin recipes). Campaigning pressure on Kellogg’s, a company which started life as a rather prudish campaign on morality, meant they made their products into bland mush—something their fans on social media didn’t hesitate to tell them.
After years of pushing, a weak and wobbly Conservative Party and Jamie Oliver finally got the sugar tax he’s been hankering after. Drinks like Irn Bru, Schweppes’ lemonade, and Ribena, were all reformulated following campaign and government pressure. There wasn’t actually any consumer demand that decades’ old recipes be changed, and of course many had introduced low sugar versions to appeal to any that did want to switch.
Coca Cola fortunately stood alone. Not because they’re standing up for consumer choice but because they went through their own reformulation disaster in the 1980s and 90s. To pay homage to the anti-sugar lobby they scaled back their annual Coca Cola truck tour, reducing the number of city stops and handing out mostly sugar-free versions of its drinks.
They’re coming for your Christmas cakes, your sticky toffee pudding and your rich tea biscuits too. The language they use should worry us all. Those that don’t fit their made-up guidelines are accused of ‘not complying’ and wail openly that only they are thinking of your children.
Mr Oliver’s campaign against advertising continued late into the year. In November he convinced the London Mayor to cover over his serious failings in crime and housing by making a song and dance about banning burger adverts on the tube. No matter the city’s £900m deficit in transport nor the £13m this will add to that blackhole. No. What matters is a statement. Politicians must be seen to be doing something about our supposed national obesity epidemic.
But must they? Well, no. As the IEA’s Christopher Snowdon recently noted, there is no childhood obesity crisis. It is a myth. No-one has ever properly explained how government figures suggest nearly a quarter of 13-15 year olds are obese but as soon as they reach 18 it suddenly drops to 15 per cent (and only 10 per cent of men). No one can of course. Because it is untrue. But it does help these campaigners peddle their policy prescriptions and help them get fat off your taxpayer cash.
But don’t reach for your Christmas champagne too soon. You aren’t exempt from the nanny state’s prescriptions either. You are being played by ‘irresponsible’ drink manufacturers. You see, that sickly sweet cider you had at the Christmas party was, shockingly, sweet. Somehow we all missed that Bailey’s and Eggnog were made with cream and sugar and must be protected from our ignorance. We all knew that it was but a matter of time before the food police came for your evening tipple (not theirs of course, a posh red wine is fine), no doubt we can look forward to this turning up as an issue on Jamie Oliver’s show on taxpayer underwritten Channel 4.
There is, of course, one other thing that Jamie Oliver has ruined: his own business empire. His flagship Barbecoa restaurant in Piccadilly is gone and the other sold on, 12 out of 37 Jamie’s Italian restaurants have closed, 600 staff have been made redundant and millions of pounds burned through keeping the rest of the business alive.
So this Christmas, and before Jamie Oliver carries on his campaign to ruin this country’s pleasures any further, let me offer the morose misers a cautionary tale from history. Puritans do not win in Britain.
The last time a ruler without any accountability ran an authoritarian campaign to imbue the country with ‘outward and inward godliness throughout England,’ the last time our country banned celebrations and admonished those seeking out ‘liberty to carnal and sensual delights’ it ended in full failure, and restoration of both the King and a country that matched its people’s passions. I cannot wait for that restoration again.