Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Illiberal and intrusive

That's how I sum up the SNP's new plan to tackle obesity. Listen to this: it plans to stop restaurants serving 'large' portions, stop shops selling sweets near the till, only allow two-for-one offers etc on health products, 'advise' women on eating habits before they fall pregnant, and force councils to clean up more dog dirt 'to encourage exercise'.

What a load of illiberal tosh. State intervention to force people to be more healthy? Is this not Britain? The freedom-loving nation of individual responsibility? This is not an issue for governments to take responsibility for! It's a matter for individuals, if anything else wasn't.

Don't get me wrong, I think healthy is good. I keep myself in good shape because, well, I wouldn't mind living past 60, and bulging biceps look good. That's my choice. Other people don't follow it. The thought of me forcing someone else to get into shape if they don't want to twitches every bone in my body. The thought of government, with its monopoly of force, forcing everyone to be healthy nearly knocks me over.

There are other practical problems. What constitutes a 'large' portion? It seems too subjective to be written into legislation. What is 'near the till'? Shops vary in size. What are 'health products'? Couldn't retailers find ways around that one? Councils clearing up more dog dirt? That's an issue for local electorates to decide.

Why are we even in a country where such a proposal does not cause outrage? Why are we in a country which, once renowned for freedom, actually sees these proposals from as high a level as Scottish government ministers? I know socialists control Scotland, but this proposal is truly shocking.

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