Saturday, 16 October 2010
The quango cull reminded me of croissants, that and the limitations of democracy as practised in Britain. Listening to Francis Maude pretend it was about re-establishing democratic accountability in Britain this morning on radio 4 as opposed to the cutting out wasteful inefficiency it was originally presented as I thought what a fanny. Besides the obvious realisation by the ConDems that they ain’t gonna save much money there’s the self-inflicted wounds it inflicts; politics is oiled by patronage, quangos or at least a seat on the board of a quango and the associated however many grand a year dished out for spending a coupla hours a month pontificating gave politicians a fabulous resource with which to reward friends and neighbours. Cull too many quangos and all that patronage gravy goes bye bye.
‘fessing up to that would allow politicians to claim they were above board, on the level and all that kinda jazz, except doing so would be to admit the role patronage plays in the political process, which they won’t. So instead it looks like a stupid mistake unless of course the transfer of responsibilities to organisations for which politicians have direct responsibility is actually going to happen and make a difference, which brings us back to croissants.
One day one of the major supermarket chains conducted an experiment. They did some nice straight forward labelling, which assigned traffic light ratings to the contents of different types of croissant. Sales of the croissant that had lots of red lights on it fell. Sales of the croissant with more green and amber traffic lights increased. The end. Except it wasn’t, the supermarkets subsequently campaigned vigorously against the Food Standards Agency (a different FSA) making the traffic lighting of food according to its sugar, fat, salt content etc., a legal obligation. The supermarkets won so instead we have all this shite about RDAs and this and that and what not i.e. an overly complicated system no one really understands or can be arsed with so largely ignores.
This is a bad thing. Pleb morons don’t care cos they believe they have the right to eat shite food. Middle income liberals are too busy wanking over farmer’s market organic cheese to notice while fat, fat fatties have glandular issues and big bones that mean they have to eat hunners of choccie biccies and avoid any exercise. But, on balance and on average, a straightforward traffic light system would probably see some incremental shifts in what people eat and put pressure on supermarkets to tell the manufacturers that supply them to change their contents in favour of less obesity inducing stuff. Except, that would cost money and possibly sales, hence their vigorous and successful opposition to the FSA’s efforts and the associated constraints this indicates big business lobbying places on the democratic process as practised in Britain with public health being sacrificed to private profits.
So now that another FSA is being “substantially reformed” will we see a more independent approach being taken by government to the issue of food content labelling? It’d be good if we did and it’s a nice litmus test as to the benefits of the quango cull that’s in keeping with Francis Maude’s claims. In the meantime the soon to be defunct Government Hospitality Advisory Committee on the purchase of Wines sounds like the best quango to be a part of ever, I can even think of a fabulous person who should have a seat on its board.