Thursday, 31 July 2014

Trust me, I’m a doctor

A proposal that has been made in various quarters to address growing public disengagement from politics is the introduction of “open primaries” whereby all electors in a constituency, of whatever allegiance, are given a say in the selection of a party’s candidate. This idea always seems very questionable to me, as surely it will encourage a bland, anodyne centrism and also tend to institutionalise the role of the existing political parties. Would the Monster Raving Loony Party be expected to hold open primaries? The maverick, individualist MPs who enliven the political landscape would be squeezed out. And, given that modern Britain seems to treat the NHS as a kind of secular religion, any candidate with a medical background would get an immediate head start.

A prime example of this was the selection of Dr Sarah Wollaston as Conservative candidate for Totnes in Devon at the 2010 General Election. Although the majorities have sometimes been slender, this seat has been won by the Conservatives at every election since 1923, so must be regarded as pretty safe. Since her election, she has been one of the most outspoken champions in the House of Commons of measures to restrict people’s lifestyle choices, being a strong advocate of minimum alcohol pricing and plain tobacco packaging, and most recently demanding government-dictated standard portion sizes for food as a means of combating obesity.

Many have even questioned what she is doing in the Conservative Party at all, as surely two of the key principles of modern-day conservatism must be encouraging individual responsibility and a scepticism about top-down State solutions to improve the human condition.

As Brendan O’Neill said in a recent speech to the annual dinner of the Free Society, this tendency isn’t just about imposing a few extra restrictions, it is challenging the entire foundation of the Enlightenment which has been the foundation of much Western political thought for over three hundred years.

What we’re really witnessing is the unravelling of the Enlightenment itself. The Enlightenment was based on the idea that individuals should be free to carve out their own moral and spiritual path in life without being hectored, harried or “corrected” by their rulers.

As John Locke said in his letter on toleration, one of the earliest documents of the Enlightenment, “The care of souls does not belong to the [state]… every man’s soul belongs unto himself and is to be left unto himself.

This is the real fight we have on our hands today – not a fight against a bunch of annoying nannies, but a fight against the attempted colonisation of our souls by a state which thinks, wrongly, that it knows better than we do ourselves how our lives should be run.

The term is often too freely bandied about, but, as Simon Cooke explains, this genuinely is Health Fascism – the belief that individuals are not qualified to make sensible decisions for themselves and need to subordinate free choice to the higher purpose of the State.
Which is why the term 'health fascist' is entirely appropriate to describe Dr Wollaston's position. The central tenet of fascism is that the state has a duty to change men so they serve the wider purpose of the nation - we are subservient to the needs of that state because it understands what is necessary to build the right kind of society. So it is with the 'duty to intervene' - people ordering 'supersized' boxes of popcorn are not merely damaging themselves, they also damage society by placing a 'cost' on us all. Such practices are decadent with the sin compounded by the suggestion that someone profits from making people eat larger portions.

So to put this right government has that 'duty to intervene'. The wider interests of society - defined with the term 'obesity epidemic' - are served by banning a person from entering freely into a contract with another person because the state has decided that large servings of fizzy-pop and popcorn are unhealthy.

This rejection of choice in a free society because of associated 'health risks' or the 'normalisation' of some proscribed behaviour represents a degree of control and a justification on the basis of wider society's 'interests' that can only be described as fascist. Yet this health fascism - the view that bans and controls are needed because of the 'cost to society' - has become ever more common. That we are weak and make poor choices is undeniable and society should help us to deal with these problems but this does not justify saying that I cannot be allowed the option of a 'poor' choice. The former is good government, that latter health fascism.

Let us hope at next year’s General Election someone (probably UKIP) puts up a candidate against this dreadful woman who is prepared to place a lot of emphasis on lifestyle issues.


  1. Open primaries are going to result in health fascist mps?

    I'd have thought the opposite to be true. Suggestions for them are no where near to enforcing it on political parties so it wouldn't affect independents. It's a suggestion to find a way to engage people in what are dying local associations.

    As for the lass in question, yeh, doesn't appear up to much, but she might very well represent some people your pal Nigel wouldn't. The none piss heads that live among us.

    Takes all sorts. Take that Hattie Harperson. Not many people like her but she's cracking comedy value. Without her and Diane Abbot, Dead Ringers on Radio 4 wouldn't have a show.

  2. I was with you all the way until you expressed the hope that UKIP could displace her - a party which has had the most bizarre and at times appalling gaffes. A quick Google reminded me of these, and there are loads more:

    1. ‘Businesses should be allowed to refuse services to women and gay people’ - Councillor Donna Edmunds.
    2. Councillor David Silvester blames UK storms and floods on gay marriage laws.
    3. ‘Women don’t have the ambition to get to the top because babies get in the way’ - UKIP MEP Stuart Agnew.
    4. Godfrey Bloom called a room full of women ‘sluts’ and then slapped a reporter.
    5. Energy spokesperson Roger Helmer doesn’t believe in climate change.
    6. UKIP candidate Geoffrey Clarke was suspended over suggestions that compulsory abortion should be considered for foetuses with Down's syndrome or spina bifida.

    I think I'd rather deal with the nanny statism of Dr Sarah Wollaston than the barking lunacy of the UKIP lot - though preferably neither.

  3. I doubt whether UKIP will win in Totnes, but someone needs to take her to task over her health fascist views, and somehow I can't see either LibDems or Labour doing that.

  4. What are you waiting for 'Mudge? I'll be the first to endorse your entry as a "Preserve the Enlightenment" candidate.

  5. From Dave Atherton

    In reply to RedNev

    1. Or anyone else, including white men. She believes that a business should be able to choose
    2. Fired
    3. Reasonable observation?
    4. Joke and Michael Crick the Channel 4 reporter goaded him
    5. Man made climate change I do not believe in either
    6. Fired

    I assume from your name you are a Marxist/socialist and that is UKIP's target vote. Only 1 in 5 white working class people vote for Labour these days.

  6. I'd vote for Mudge but only if he stuck a leaflet through my door with a picture of himself in a wife beater vest, pint of bitter in hand, fag in mouth. Them's the terms. You either want my vote or you don't.

  7. "3. Reasonable observation?"
    Yes, if you're a misogynist. Or a supporter of UKIP, apparently.

  8. She's a bit of a MILF though

  9. May I suggest anyone who votes
    Con/lib/Lab should be cosidered a
    traitor/backstabber and twotimer rolled in one.Voting for these derelicts will only accelerate the
    decline and demise of the British Nation. No I am not a UKIP voter but they are not yet tarnished with the total deception of the three main parties of spivs,liars and cheats. As for the lefty loonies,marxists,trots and associated freaks,who the hell can trust them,all on offer from them is an eternal grey misery.
    Reminder,if you vote next year for the big three,shut up for the following 5 years(or more)

    Nothing to lose

  10. "Many have even questioned what she is doing in the Conservative Party at all, as surely two of the key principles of modern-day conservatism must be encouraging individual responsibility and a scepticism about top-down State solutions to improve the human condition."

    I'm never sure where people get these ideas from about the Conservative Party.

    This is the party that introduced the Video Recordings Act, forcing all videotapes to have to go through the BBFC, the party that ramped up the war on drugs, the party that wanted ID cards for all football supporters. And that was under the more liberal Thatcher administration. The current Conservatives have forced broadband filters on people, supported the smoking ban and wanted a minimum price on alcohol.

    Like most fake liberals, they want *their* freedoms protecting but sod everyone else's. So, Tories will join various "freedom" marches to allow fox hunting, but still want you locked up for smoking a fairly harmless joint.

  11. What do we want?
    When do we want it?

    If you liked that joke there is more of the same piss poor rubbish on R4 this evening.

    As fore the kippers, they add to the gaiety of the nation. The sunday politics and QT would be boring without a bit of Nige every now and then to wind the lefties up.

    They may be a buch of nutcases and fruitcakes, but they are right about one thing. We have handed our democracy over to unelected bureaucrats. A pity, all things considered.

  12. it is just another example of divide and conquer. In a society that takes NI contributions in order to pay for a health service that is all too often classified as FREE then people who are concerned about their FREEdoms are bound to get upset. In countries where the emphasis is on private health care and that health care is run by actuaries who will adjust your monthly payment based on your health then people are well motivated to lead a healthier lifestyle. rather than health fascism we should merely introduce yearly health examinations and your payment to the NI system adjusted to reflect poor choices. At the same time sports and pastimes proven to cause long term health problems or are dangerous like horse riding then those people must have private medical cover to cover the additional costs of their lifestyle choices.

    I for one am sick of the Ayn Rand philosophy of self and personal liberty leading to the Tea Party and to an extent the rise of UKIP. It is a boring philosophy based not on social, political or economic wisdom. Society is bigger than an individual, whether our political system is best for society is another question. One thing I do know is that political parties bilging the same old crap about immigration is tedious beyond belief. Emigrants, that is who I hate - bring 'em back!

  13. @Anon, what about the self employed that choose an annual income of £8k in order to pay a minimal NI stamp (£175 a year for both employee & employer contributions) then pay themselves dividends every 6 months, for which they will receive a tax credit & eventual tax rebate for because the dividends will be declared profits for which corporation tax was due. Those profits being deflated with legal tax free expense allowances?

    Is it a fair system to tax only those that cannot afford accountants?

  14. Cooking Lager - you are mixing your tax laws and what applies to an LLC and an individual who is self-employed. I believe there is justification to take the personal tax collection burden off companies, partnerships and the sole trader and allow individuals to handle their own tax affairs much like the American system. The individual allowed to make deductions from tax in the same way the 'self-employed' are allowed to do and that should include private healthcare, private insurance for losing work due to redundancy etc. etc. All the things that currently are an additional financial burden instead of an example of prudent planning. The NI system to still be enforced and all tax due to be paid with severe penalty for failure to do so.

  15. But NI is paid on employed wages, not on other income & many people don't pay it at all.

    The part time dinner lady doesn't make her stamp for the 10 hour week. Many self employed opt to pay themselves entirely through dividends. The ones that take a nominal income tend to be those that were on PAYE and have 20 years contributions so they pay the min possible to get another years stamp thinking it might be worth it. Most self employed have a Ltd company.

    NI is just an additional tax, not really related to your entitlement.

  16. Cooking Lager - the intention of NI was to pay for the Welfare State. Yes, that principle has long since gone, which is perhaps why the adoption of everyone doing self-assessment and if you are an employee being to claim deductions in the manner that business owners are allowed to do is the answer.
    My issue now is that you seem to have a very poor grasp of Tax law in this country and how it relates to companies, partnerships and sole traders and also how a company is defined by legislation. A director is not self-employed even though they own the company. Dividends are not tax free but tax is paid by the company on shares to HMRC.
    Lastly, the point of the article was about Free Society and the perceived Nanny State especially on health matters. This country needs more people for future economic success, child birth is down so we either need immigrants or we need to keep the current population fit for work for longer and the notion of retiring in your 60s becomes a thing of the past. We need to pay for more research into how to prolong life and the quality of that life. Somewhere along the line for the minimal amount of money that goes into maintaining our NHS someone or some group has to start holding the population accountable for their sloth, greed and others from the seven sins and not only that hold corporations responsible at the same time. More encouragement into private health care by allowing payment to private health plans to essentially be free because you deduct that payment from the personal income tax you pay to government. No detriment to the NI system which as previously stated, NI was the way to pay for the Welfare System but mainly to fund the NHS. All your other but what about them is really of no concern to me, I am assuming everyone is the average full time worker of whatever income.


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