Private Eye has already done a good job of dissecting Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond's ridiculous statement, that he was going to "end the war on motorists" (URL's not online, bleedin' Private Eye and its antiquated view of the media!). Basically, they revealed the appalling strictures on train travel that the last govt had put in place, and the limited investment in public transport as a whole - whereas road building etc has been positively encouraged. Anyway. The thing is I think we see a pattern here which politicians the world over have discovered is a great way of staying in favour with their natural core voters, whilst basically lying. George Bush was a master of the art, often bare faced lying in his excuses for press conferences. The last govt was just as bad. I don't really see the coalition govt taking this to new levels, simply doing more of the same. It deserves to be pointed out though, in any case.
So. Simple attention grabbing headline (check this out, the "war on motorists" was being dissected by the Guardian in *2004*). Follow up consisting of "Eh? Beg your pardon but surely that's wrong?" is a) only in the broadsheets and b) not on the front page.
Last week, the new Health Secretary Andrew Lansley made a preposterous attack on Jamie Oliver's campaign for healthier school meals, in which, lest we forget, Oliver spent vast swathes of his own money and his rep on building up a culture of properly cooked, healthy meals as school dinners instead of the now demonised "Turkey Twizzler". This hits in to key Tory territory: apparent freedom of choice. In this case, it's actually budget tightening, disguised as freedom of choice. Here's what Andrew "I've done my research" Lansley said about Jamie Oliver's campaign:
“If we are constantly lecturing people and trying to tell them what to do, we will actually find that we undermine and are counterproductive in the results that we achieve.
“Jamie Oliver, quite rightly, was talking about trying to improve the diet of children in schools and improving school meals, but the net effect was the number of children eating school meals in many of these places didn't go up, it went down."
“So then the schools said: 'It's okay to bring packed lunches but we've got to determine what's in the packed lunches, we've got to decide what's in the packed lunches.’
“To which the parents' response was that they gave children money, and
children are actually spending more money outside school, buying
local shops, instead of on school lunches.”
Let's be clear what Lansley's doing here - he's created a story - and it is a story, without a grain of truth (no references offered), in order to sell his shtick.
Right! Let's look at the evidence then, shall we? Which Lansley obviously did do, but chose to either willfully ignore, or not mention, because it didn't fit his 'parental choice' story.
"More pupils eat school lunches" says the School Foods Trust
"Oliver campaign 'raised results' says research from Oxford University
In other words: school dinner numbers initially went down but now they've gone right up again, and in areas where the school dinner policy has been introduced, this has a supportive effect on pupils: better results, less sick time.
Where's your story celebrating that success, Mr Lansley?It's worthwhile remembering this point, parents, if things start slipping back. It's the poor kids who will suffer, but then we know already they don't really care about poor kids anyway, do they (see previous installments of vitriolic anger).