“I do not think it means what you think it means…”

It would seem that this year’s (much abbreviated) silly season will run into the party conferences if reports of some of the motions to be debated at the Illiberal Democrats confrence are anything to go by.

A motion, to be debated on the Sunday 23 September, says the party should call for “fiscal measures such as the taxation of heavily sugared drinks”.

The plan – which has been proposed by Baroness Parminter, the party’s co-chairman of its Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee – is part of a series of “policies and measures aimed at promoting healthier and more sustainable diets”.

Party officials said taxing fizzy drinks was only one example, and the levy could also include heavily sweetened sweets and other goods.

One idea would see a charge levied on products which breached a set sugar content threshold.

This is, I’m sure you’ll be unsurprised to hear, for the children. Apparently we have half a million children at risk of suffering from liver disease because they are too fat but as this figure comes from Professor Martin Lombard, England’s National Clinical Director for Liver Disease it is possible that we can dismiss it as rent-seeking.

Even if it isn’t, the Torgraph article helpfully tells us that “taxing sugary drinks and other unhealthy foods could cut up to 2,700 heart disease deaths a year” (my emphasis).

Given that in 2010 the Office for National Statistics tells us that 493,242 people across England and Wales, 53,967 in Scotland and 14,500 in NI, that is less than 0.5% of the total.

For comparision, 3,377 people committed suicide in 2010 in England and Wales alone.

Fizzy drinks and sugary items are therefore hardly a national emergency, are they?

Yet another example, it would seem, of politicans searching for answers to a non-existent problems rather than just letting people get on with their lives. Not exactly the actions of a so-called Liberal.

The only potential justification that I can possibly see for an extra (Pingu) tax is if the amount currently raised by VAT doesn’t cover the externalities. Does anyone know how much VAT on these ‘harmful’ products raises against how much treatment (denistry, medical care etc) caused by their consumption costs?

She [Lady Parminter] said that the party was only asking for a consulation on the plans and was not at the moment in favour of a sugar tax.

Looks like the start of another branch of that non-existent slippery slope to me…


  1. Ed P says:

    I propose a tax on the Liberal Democrats (who are neither). Anyone supporting them should have to pay handsomely into the state’s coffers to assuage their quite obviously wrong-thinking.

    • Misanthrope Girl says:

      The Lib Dems are no worse than the Conservatives or Labour when it comes to control freakery and health fascism. The last 15+ years have proved that beyond any shadow of a doubt.

  2. Ed P says:

    OH, and “Lady Parminter” is a stupid name – made up? – which sounds like a sugar-coated bon-bon, so she should tax herself.

    • Misanthrope Girl says:

      Looking through her bio on Wikipedia, it becomes clear that Lady P has performed no worthwhile function throughout her working life. As for the surname, it is apparently a derivation of ‘Parmenter‘ and means ‘a maker of facings and trimmings, a tailor with specialist skills’.