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Before we get too excited about senior policemen revealing the iniquities of crime targets and RoSPA speaking out against Elfin Safety, here's a little snippet to dampen our mood.
 
A group of senior academics (you know what academics are, of course. Over-educated people who live in comfy common-rooms, have never really left school, know very little about the lives of ordinary people, and wouldn't recognise a proper job if it reared up and slapped them in the face) have given their highly-publicised opinion that higher alcohol taxes, halting 24-hour drinking, banning smoking in people's homes and adding fluoride to water supplies are justified intrusions to improve public health.
 
A report by the well-respected Nuffield Council of Bioethics concludes that the Government and industry are not doing enough to prevent binge drinking or obesity and should promote healthy lifestyles through stricter measures and deterrents. The authors, a group of doctors, lawyers, philosophers and other experts, argue that the much-maligned "nanny state" should be replaced by a new, more sensitive idea of "stewardship". Campaigners described the report as a potential manifesto for a bully state and industry groups bristled at the prospect of tighter regulation.
 
Lord Krebs, who chaired the committee, said yesterday "People often reject the idea of a nanny state but the Government has a duty to look after the health of everyone and sometimes that means guiding or restricting our choices." Nobody could be contacted to confirm or deny that Lord Krebs is any relation to the very ugly James Bond lady who kept flick-knives in her boots, but we can all draw our own conclusions.
 
Among the ideas for more bullying that have been suggested
 
• the food industry should be compelled to improve labelling and health information on products
• town planners and architects should design buildings and public spaces that encourage people to lead more active lifestyles
• taxes on alcohol could be increased
• the ethical and scientific arguments that apply to banning smoking in enclosed public spaces also apply to banning smoking in homes
• NHS treatment should be withheld or delayed for smokers or drinkers
• data for assessing and predicting trends in infectious disease should be collected without consent.
 
Dawn Primarolo, the Health Minister, said "It's got to stop!"
 
Nobody knew what the hell she was talking about, but it was obvious that she really meant it, so that's all right.
 

 
The GOS says: New Labour are already pushing an authoritarian health agenda worthy of the North Koreans. To tackle obesity with what he called a 'large-scale' approach 'across the whole community', Health Secretary Alan Johnson said that he wants to 'make physical activity a normal part of everyday life' by building "fit towns" where everyone is forced to walk or cycle whether they want to or not, presumably by building them without roads, trains, buses or lifts.
 
This announcement was picked up by mass media as far afield as China and India. News website "spiked" said "Not for nothing has Johnson claimed a past allegiance to Stalinism. In an absolutely illiberal and inhumane manner, Johnson wants urban areas designed so that people's behaviour cannot at all consist of their own freely decided choices. Instead, behaviour will be relentlessly controlled by the state. What the Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov did to salivating dogs, or the stimulus-response experiments conducted by US psychologist BF Skinner did to hungry rats, Johnson wants to do to us. Johnson's view of human freedom is degraded. The confusions within Labour's urban policy, and the logic of Johnson's approach, make his proposal ludicrous and unworkable. But that should not blind us to his authoritarianism."
 

 
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