Saturday, 3 July 2010

Repudiating Jamie Oliver

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.

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.
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.


  1. Jamie Oliver is correct. White Trash DO feed their kids copious amounts of fried food and other rubbish.

    The situation should not be an opportunity to initiate force, but he most certainly is correct, if not 'politically correct' in the Labour way.

    Oh and libertarian types are just as sanctimonious as Jamie. Myself included ;-).

  2. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Jamie Oliver trying to reform the lunch menus at tuckshops in state funded schools? I didn't think it had anything to do with what white (or any other colour) trash parents were feeding their kids at home. Did it really get to the stage where kids lunch boxes were getting scrutinised? That sounds a tad fascist.

    Anecdotally his initiative did show some promising results in the area of classroom behaviour, and this, coupled with the potential health benefits, would seem to be a good reason to continue trialling the programme. However from memory Oliver had real problems trying to keep to the existing budget. And junk food is popular because it is cheap and tasty.

    Ultimately budgets and "re-electability" are the driving forces for governments, so my guess is that unless there is significant public outcry in England about school lunches the kids will be back on their coke and chips before you can say "turkey twizzler."