Public health minister Anne Milton - whose Guildford constituency lies in the Surrey stockbroker belt - argued that 'widespread changes in behaviour' such as stopping smoking and practising 'safe sex' would help lower death rates in the north of England.Combining health fascism with rank snobbery, a better example of the deep contempt in which the political class hold ordinary people is difficult to imagine.
At a Commons debate last week about bad health in the region, former nurse Ms Milton said: 'The major part of poor health will be remedied only by widespread changes in behaviour.
'It is this government's policy to encourage people to change how they live.
'We cannot frog-march people out of the off-licence, compel them to stop smoking or force them to practise safe sex.
'Our challenge is to make the case that freedom without responsibility is not sustainable.'
Not that her Labour predecessors were any better, although they might have been a little more reluctant to air their private views to avoid antagonising their own constituents, instead preferring to call for more taxpayers’ money to be splurged on the affected areas, as shown by the comments in the article from Chi Onwurah.
A point often missed in discussion of geographical health inequalities is that, during their lives, people who enjoy educational and career success tend to migrate from poorer to richer areas, so the average age of death in Burnley doesn’t necessarily reflect the average life expectancy of babies born in Burnley. And to what extent is this actually inequality between different social classes rather than different geographical areas?