The campaign summed up New Labour’s contempt for ordinary people, too. Let loose to do New Labour’s bidding, to state openly how the government really felt about working-class families, Oliver berated the masses for being ‘scrubbers’, ‘tossers’, ‘white trash’ and ‘arseholes’ who feed their children ‘shit’. He said plainly what ministers normally only say in code. And the campaign also embodied New Labour’s illiberal tendencies: tuckshops were forced to close down (by what some referred to as a ‘tuckshop Taliban’), chips and salt and other nice things were banned in schools, and the lunchbox-monitoring initiative spoke volumes about officialdom’s distrust of parents and its desire always to step in when mum and dad allegedly fail.Brendan O'Neill on the new regime in the UK. Again, the proof will be in policy action, not talk. And, the UK is at a far worse spot than is NZ, making it easier to turn around. But I do wish that National here would be paying a bit more attention to the direction of change in the UK.
Celebrity-fronted, dodgy science-fuelled, fear-injected authoritarianism: that, in essence, is what the Jamie Oliver school-dinners initiative represented. The Lib-Cons deserve congratulations for putting that kind of patronising politics in the dock. Let’s hope they continue to do so, though there are some worrying signs that they won’t – David Cameron et al are already bringing in celebrities of their own to front campaigns and Lansley has talked about his preference for ‘nudging’ rather than ‘nannying’ in pushing forward ‘behaviour change programmes’. But for the time being, as Oliver and Labour bigwigs including Ed Balls and Andy Burnham turn on Lansley for daring to blaspheme against St Jamie of the Sun-Dried Tomato, let us crack open a bottle of unhealthy fizzy stuff and celebrate the possible passing of an irritating political era.