Do you remember how NuLabour used to talk about "voluntary" rules for certain industries? And yes, if the industry did not comply voluntarily, these vermin would then say, with a deep note of fake regret in their voices, that they had no choice but to legislate because evil businesses would not ruin their markets themselves?
Usually it was over some perceived vice—such as drinks companies advertising their wares—or some non-existent scare, such as that over salt.
Well, it seems that the Coalition in general, and Andrew Lansley in particular, is doing exactly the same thing.
Restaurants and work canteens will put calorie counts on menus and food manufacturers will promise to cut down on salt and artificial fats under a set of agreements to be announced today.
The three voluntary “responsibility deals” agreed with the food industry are aimed at helping the public to eat more healthily, in a drive to tackle the growing problem of obesity among both adults and children.
Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, believes that firms will be more likely to set ambitious targets for themselves if they are negotiated on a voluntary basis.
Rather than a “nanny state” approach, he is keen to arm the public with the tools they need to cope in an “obesogenic environment,” where people are bombarded with adverts for unhealthy food.
What, in the name of fuck, is an “obesogenic environment”? And why the bastarding hell should I—a 6' tall, 10 and a half stone man—be lectured at by Lansley and his fat fucking fellows?
Might I remind everyone that salt—in this case, sodium chloride—is absolutely essential for nerve function? If you do not get enough salt, you will die: if you eat rather more salt than you need then... Well, it does nothing much at all.
Furthermore, you need to have fats too, although I don't know what Lansley would class as "artificial fats".
But I bet that he also means to include that evil steroid, cholesterol—the great demon of the "fatty food" world. Like salt, cholesterol is absolutely vital to life, being...
... an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes, where it is required to establish proper membrane permeability and fluidity. In addition, cholesterol is an important component for the manufacture of bile acids, steroid hormones, and Vitamin D.
This is what so annoys me about this bollocks: politicians legislate on the basis of rent-seeking obsessives waving false fucking information in their faces—such as the five myths about alcohol—and then they do active damage to people's lives because the average MP is so screamingly pig-ignorant about anything other than being a total cunt.
And quite apart from the rightness—or otherwise—of Lansley's policy, why the fuck should the food industry be forced to build the altar on which they are to be sacrificed? Because that is what is going to happen...
If firms break their promises, the Government will however consider taking compulsory measures.
Ah, yes, of course. The food firms totally understand that these are voluntary agreements. Unless, of course, they don't agree—in which case they will be compulsory.
Is anyone else ashamed at the fact that Lansley and his ilk claim to represent us?
And just in case Lansley's approach is not clear to you, here is a nice little illustration from Perry at Samizdata.
Imagine you are walking down the street and a man in a suit walks up to you holding a large cudgel...
"Excuse me," he says, "I have seen you walk down this street on a daily basis wearing a tee-shirt and in future I would like you to wear a suit and tie to raise the tone of the neighbourhood."
"Er, no," you reply, "I am happy dressed the way I am."
"I see," the man replies, "well I would rather not have to threaten to hit you with this cudgel if you do not do what I say so I want you to voluntarily agree to wear a suit and tie."
"But you are threatening to hit me with that cudgel!" you point out.
"No," he says, "I will only threaten to hit you with this cudgel if you don't do what I want voluntarily."
And some people thought that the Coalition might bring more freedom...