Scotland: the capital of nanny statism

The Scottish government’s record of nanny statism is notorious. Examples of heavy-handed measures include banning the sale of alcohol in supermarkets after 10pm, minimum-pricing laws, bans on smoking in cars with kids, and plans to make Scotland ‘tobacco free’ by 2034. The Scottish parliament’s Health and Sport Committee is well known for its desperate attempts to avoid cutting its own budget by demanding that the public cut its vices. But last week, in light of the news that two-thirds of Scots are obese or overweight, the committee has revealed its plans to call for more illiberal regulations.

Some of the propositions in the new policy demands include restricting discounts and offers on sugary and high-fat foods, as well as restricting car use and promoting alternative transport. In a letter to public-health minister, Aileen Campbell, the committee moaned that unhealthy food is ‘more available and more heavily promoted than in other countries’.The committee conceded that the new measures ‘may initially be unpopular’, but popularity plays second fiddle to the condescending attitude that has long infected Scottish government.

This patronising mentality is also reflected in a statement from Lorraine Tulloch of Obesity Action Scotland, a charity fond of the SNP’s intrusive measures. She said: ‘We are delighted that the Health and Sport Committee has recognised and supported the need for action to tackle price promotions of unhealthy foods. We know that price promotions lead us to buy more than we intended and consume more than we intended.’

Tulloch can’t be serious. Does she really believe that she knows more about our intentions concerning the food we purchase and eat than we ourselves do? Even by Scottish health-zealot standards, this is weird. Tulloch must learn to respect and understand that human beings are rational, autonomous agents. We don’t ‘eat more than we intend’ — we should be trusted to make our own lifestyle choices. A two-for-one deal on chocolate bars is not a health risk that moral agents are incapable of handling.

The convener of the Health and Sport Committee, Neil Findlay MSP, defended the proposed policies: ‘Scotland has not previously been afraid to take the initiative to tackle health-related issues when other interventions have failed. This is why this committee is asking for a bold approach to tackling obesity.’ This, in all its overtly protective language, is a call for further intrusion into the life and liberty of Scots. We don’t need to be subject to gross social engineering. We don’t need to be treated like ignorant, gullible pawns, shuffling brainlessly towards Scotmid for another high-calorie fix. We drink alcohol because we like alcohol. We eat fatty foods because they’re tasty. We drive cars because they’re useful. We don’t need the obesity-obsessed overlords in Holyrood lecturing us on our lifestyle choices.

Our message to politicians like Findlay should be clear: get stuffed. Who knows, it might make their policies taste less sour.

Charlie Peters is a writer and a student.

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