Enough of this puritanical miserablism – I’m off out for a burger

We aren’t puritans. We aren’t miserable. We aren’t automatons. We are liberals.

So why oh why is the party resorting to wringing its collective hands about ‘unhealthy’ Eat Out to Help Out discounts?

We’ve all had a really tough few months. We all know that eating fast food every day isn’t great. We all know that the government’s message is hopelessly confused. And we know that we need to have something to say about the big issues of the day.

But why are we saying something so unutterably miserable, illogical and illiberal? We are seriously being encouraged to tell people that they shouldn’t be allowed to take advantage of a cheap burger and chips. We are being told to peddle a hyperbolic line that eating a bit of extra unhealthy food is going to hasten all our deaths from Covid-19. How many people do we really think are going to slide into obesity by stuffing their faces with KFC Family Buckets on all 12 Eat Out To Help Out days in August?

Surely our party could have taken a step back after coming up with these lines and asked whether what we were saying was firstly believable and secondly in line with our values as liberals. Furthermore, who do we think this message is even going to appeal to? It doesn’t speak to me. It doesn’t speak to many people I know either. It certainly doesn’t appeal to the party members I know – because they are liberals.

I’m keen on healthy lifestyles. I go to the gym and I walk or cycle nearly all my journeys around Cheltenham. I also enjoy the odd bit of fast food, like most people – including our party’s staff who are well known for devouring unhealthy snacks during stressful election periods. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the people who came up with our line opposing discounted burgers are going to take advantage of the offer themselves. Some might say that is hypocritical. But I don’t think that’s true. It’s just a normal human instinct to have fun when light-hearted distractions have been in short supply lately.

Let’s imagine the government gives in to our demand to remove the 50% discount from ‘unhealthy food’ (and to be 100% clear – I hope it doesn’t). A load of people will have to pay more money to have a meal out after months of soul-destroying drudgery that has probably made them a bit depressed. What a huge campaign success this would be! “We have saved you from getting fat and dying of Covid-19,” we can tell the world in a press release, when in reality we’ve just succeeded in preventing a few people having a bit of fun and made many others a little bit poorer. I’m sure the voters would be queuing up to thank us.

We can do so much better than this sort of hand-wringing miserablism. I’m so annoyed that I’m off out for a Zinger Tower Burger to cheer myself up.

* Max Wilkinson is the Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson for Cheltenham. He was the candidate at the 2019 general election and is a councillor on Cheltenham Borough Council and the authority’s cabinet member for climate emergency.

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  • Callum Robertson 3rd Aug '20 - 4:50pm

    Yes, you’re absolutely right

  • Very well put. If people fancy a treat, it’s really none of our business what they want! My nephew loves raw carrots, brown bread, and hummus. But he also loves chicken McNuggets as a treat and I think you’d have to be pretty heartless to want to squeeze his pocket money to stop him having them.

  • Completely the right take here.

    While I personally don’t think that Eat Out to Help Out is the best scheme the government could be doing to save our ailing hospitality industry (I preferred the Resolution Foundations’ voucher idea) and there are rightful concerns about taxpayers’ money being directed to help large multinationals such as McDonalds, it has now been passed and for the most part it is a good scheme which will support jobs.

    The goal of this scheme is not simply to give people 50% off eating out, it’s to save our restaurants and pubs from going under – we should be supporting this.

  • Hear hear

  • Paul Barker 3rd Aug '20 - 5:46pm

    Yes thats fine for well-educated, self-confident types like all of us. What about schoolkids who used to eat KFC every evening after School & presumably will do again come September.
    What about people with no knowledge of diet who live on junk food & get little exercise ?

    How many of the commentors above live on junk food ?
    There is a difference between Liberalism & Libertarianism.

  • Michael Bukola 3rd Aug '20 - 6:04pm

    @Paul Barker Well said!

    @Max The poor certainly cannot afford your privileges of being able to eat what you want, whenever you want it.


  • Geoffrey Payne 3rd Aug '20 - 6:35pm

    No I don’t agree with this at all.
    This obsession that politicians have with the “Nanny State” is the biggest barrier when it comes to tackling the problem of obesity seriously.
    The premise in this case is entirely illogical.
    The whole point of the Mon-Wed discount is to encourage people to go back to the restaurants and cafes to help keep them in business. It is an incentive to do something, not a punishment if you do not.
    The policy proposal is to only use that incentive for venues which provide healthy food. There is really nothing stopping you from going to McDonalds if you want to, the cost of the food would be exactly the same as it would have paid anyway. So how can this possibly be the “Nanny State”? It isn’t.
    The author makes the classic mistake of using himself as an example. He is of course a sample of 1. The problem of obesity may not apply to him, especially as he is lucky enough to be able to afford a gym membership. Policy makers have to take into account the cost of obesity that we all pay for in funding the NHS and lost workdays. Experience shows that either by changing the law, or putting on taxes, people really take note, whether it is wearing seat belts, taxes on cigarettes, not smoking in pubs, not using plastic bags. All these things libertarians using Nanny State arguments opposed until it was shown that they worked, and then they give up.
    What we should learn from all this is that people do not take government policies seriously, unless you do these things.

  • Simon McGrath 3rd Aug '20 - 6:58pm

    Hooray ! It was all going so well until the last 3 comments.

  • Sean Hyland 3rd Aug '20 - 7:13pm

    As all the well known fast food outlets in my area are drive through only i understand this means they won’t be able to participate, not that the get my money any other time either.
    There are thankfully some good quality independent/family owned restaurants,cafes,pubs etc that this will hopefully help to stay in business even though not everything on the menu is guaranteed healthy.
    I know I am lucky that I am in a position to make some choices compared to others. I have health issues so I am conscious of what I eat. I’d rather continue to try and educate than legislate to encourage healthy choices. Are we also going to look at some of the meals some of the chefs blogs, tv cooking shows , Bake-Off etc encourage us to make and eat?

  • Well said. Although don’t be surprised if a bunch of people call you a “libertarian”.

    I’ve been poor for a lot of my life and it’s ridiculous to think poor people eat at KFC every day.

    According to the internet a KFC chicken fillet meal costs £5. So someone who had a meal there every day would be paying £35 a week just for one meal. According to a quick google search there are 750 calories in a KFC chicken fillet meal (that’s a chicken burger,fries and soft drink).

    So a) a truly poor person isn’t making a very wise financial decision to eat at KFC every day and the number of calories isn’t even that great! (granted the nutritional value is likely poor).

    A much better use of our time would be highlighting the difficulties people with less means have with eating healthily.

  • I’m with Max. I’m all for us having a healthy eating strategy as part of our health policy, but the point is that there is a time and a place to push that. This pandemic is a very rare moment in time, and we need to remember the importance of mental health as well as physical. Right at this moment, how many people have been looking forward to their first eat-our meal for months? Surely we can allow them that?
    And in terms of political imade, I’m afraid we come across looking miserable and fun-less.
    Apart from anything else, I hope Ed and Layla have an answer to the now likely media question: “Do you ever eat pizzas, burgers or chips? If so, why are you telling other people not to?”

  • Max Wilkinson 3rd Aug '20 - 7:51pm

    Hi all.
    Thanks to everyone who has commented. I’ll try to reply to some below.
    Paul – I’m not sure I understand your comments on school kids going to KFC. That seems to be a tangential matter to the EOTHO discounts.
    Michael – thank you for pointing out my privileges, though it seems quite a leap to assume I have them (aside from the ones I readily acknowledge possessing by virtue of my race and gender).
    Geoffrey – I didn’t mention the phrase nanny state. I’m personally not ideologically averse to measures that some might describe as nanny state, but on this topic I really don’t see the benefit of the position the party has taken in demanding that food arbitrarily deemed ‘unhealthy’ is removed from the policy. You clearly have decided I am a member of a privileged elite, so let’s assume that’s the case for the moment. Is it OK for some people to be denied a McDonalds discount while I am able to enjoy a discount on a six-course tasting menu?
    As for my personal circumstances: full disclosure: my gym membership is £16 per month.
    Alex Heg – let’s go for a burger in a local Indy place. My shout.

  • Richard Howard 3rd Aug '20 - 8:16pm

    Well said Max, it’s articles like this which restore my faith in the party. Who on earth is running our Twitter account and coming out with nonsense like this?

    This policy managed to make us look elitist, irrelevant, mean-spirited, illogical and illiberal all at once. We’re now the party that wants to legalise cannabis and ban chips. It’s okay to have a spliff, but don’t smoke it on the pavement or go to McDonald’s if you get the munchies.

    I think that it’s the consequence of defining ourselves entirely as ‘anti-Tory’. There’s an opportunity to criticise the government and we jump upon it before stopping to consider how it looks or how it aligns to our principles. We have to stop this because our credibility is ebbing away, one ridiculous tweet at a time.

  • Cllr Mark Wright 3rd Aug '20 - 8:22pm

    Ha ha, great article 🙂 Nice to see a bit of non-conformity on LDV.

  • James Belchamber 3rd Aug '20 - 8:41pm

    Frankly, any Liberal that wants to stop to take the time to complain about how “illiberal” it is to deny a person a cheap burger, instead of the very real illiberalism of subsidising nights out for those that can afford it while others slip into ever-more-desperate food poverty, needs to have a long hard think about their priorities.

    This is why people think Liberals are out of touch with anyone but the privet hedge middle class.

  • Daniel Carr 3rd Aug '20 - 8:41pm

    Great piece Max – agree 100%. A tone-death message if there ever was one.

  • Barry Lofty 3rd Aug '20 - 8:54pm

    Good to see all these Lib Dems falling for another Basher Boris’ sweetener, but enjoy your discounted burgers, I suppose we all like a discount?

  • I’m vegan, so I officially don’t approve. Tut tut tut. But it would be nice if, instead of othering the poor, commentators would stand up as lacking self control and needing to be told what to eat by the “great and the good”. Coz, it seems that it is always about pointing at someone else to feel superior to. But obviously, as a Vegan I’m superior just like in Scott Pilgrim

  • This policy was riddiculous and has totally the wrong priority.

    The money on this policy could have paid for 500,000 children from disadvantaged backgrounds who have missed out on vital education to have had an hour a days 1-2-1 tuition for an entire month. That would have been a far better use of resources.

    As for tackling obesity, I dont like the idea of sugar taxes as it disporoportiantly affects the poor, I believe that we should legislate to limit the amount of sugars, salts and fats producers are allowed to put in foods. I do not see that as being a nanny state as it woul allow the consumer to add their own extra sugar / salt to their meal if that is what they chose.
    It is the foods at the cheaper end on the scale that tends to be loaded with sugars and salts, the more healthier options tend to be more expensive and out of the reach of people on limited means.

    But getting back to the article, I think it is peverse to be subsidising eating out which to my mind is a luxury when there are millions of families reliant on food banks who can not even put 3 meals a day on the table, let alone the luxury of eating out

  • Max Wilkinson 3rd Aug '20 - 9:55pm

    Hi all
    Thanks for taking the time to leave comments. I enjoy reading them all, whether they’re positive or negative. I’ll try to reply to the issues that have been less positive, but I’ll start by offering Alex Heg a burger on me at any of Cheltenham’s excellent independent restaurants. He’s right that going to a local Indy that is probably struggling is a better idea than defaulting to KFC or McDonalds, though he’s also correct that it’s a matter of personal choice.

  • Max Wilkinson 3rd Aug '20 - 9:57pm

    Some people seem to think I’m making this argument on the grounds I think poor people eat junk food. I did not say that. Geoffrey in particular seems to think I am part of an elite community of rich healthy people, by virtue of the fact I go to a gym. Full disclosure: my gym membership is £16 a month and quite a few of the people I see there live in my council ward, where there are many issues with poverty. Though as the assumption has been made that I am a caviar-swiller, let’s run with it. Why is it fair for me to get a discount on my meaty six-course tasting menu while somebody with less money misses out on any discount at McDonalds? And under our new policy who is the arbiter of what constitutes a healthy meal anyway?

  • Max Wilkinson 3rd Aug '20 - 9:58pm

    The terms libertarian and ‘nanny state’ have been used and it’s worth discussing both. Nowhere did I use the term ‘nanny state’, which I know to be as distracting to a liberal audience as Netflix is to a home worker. Indeed, I have a great deal of sympathy with many health-focused nanny state policy interventions. I don’t even think our suggested policy is nanny statism, that would be attributing to it a level of ideological rigour that is entirely absent from the suggestion. I just think it’s pointless, punitive and miserable at a time when our party and the country have bigger things to worry about. To address the accusations of libertarianism head on: I have no libertarian tendencies and anyone who has discussed my politics with me at length would find that suggestion laughable – as would any genuine libertarian.
    James – I think the opposite of your assertion is true. People will think we are out-of-touch, middle class, muesli-eating Guardianistas precisely because of this sort of barmy suggestion. Furthermore, the fact that I’ve written an article about this subject does not mean I am not concerned about food bank use or food poverty. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s possible to hold more than one opinion at a time.
    Barry – we do indeed all love a discount.
    P.S. I tried to respond to some comments earlier but my post didn’t appear, so I’m sorry if there’s any doubling up at some future point.

  • Tony Greaves 3rd Aug '20 - 10:23pm

    The nonsense is of giving people money to go out and eat, whatever they eat. There are, just possibly, some bigger priorities at the moment.

  • Very well said by Max Wilkinson.

    Once again we see the same reaction to someone posting genuinely liberal ideas – they are quite wrongly told that they are “libertarian”.

    It is deeply unfortunate that the Lib Dems seem to have turned their back on most aspects of liberal thinking – autonomy, personal freedom, free speech and instead take every opportunity to promote a nanny statist Green Party ish vision of Puritanism, censorship and general judgmentalism.

    As Nick Tyrone has pointed out Ed Davey seems a little afraid of his party’s leftist faction. Would he do better by embracing genuine classical liberalism? I suspect he might.

  • Andy Hinton 4th Aug '20 - 12:38am

    As far as this post goes, I totally agree.

    I also agree with the other commenters pointing out that frankly there are much more sensible attack lines to be taking towards the “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme, such as questioning whether it is really a priority for government spending when there are still millions of people out there whose incomes have dried up overnight during the pandemic but who are excluded from government support schemes.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Aug '20 - 2:20am

    Agree with Matt that the denial of it for certain foods is not a good thing, but I agree with Matt and Tony Greaves, I think the voucher is an absurd idea!

    It is a gimmicky silliness, a feel good one off token, a bribe worth hardly anything.

    Money, as said by colleagues better spent. It also encourages one sector under strain, but there are many. How about the self employed left out?

    But the answer is, as Layla proposes, subsidise quality, do not give vouchers to eat out, give tax incentives to producers to make good food.

  • Martin Pierce 4th Aug '20 - 6:57am

    Right – so we’ve got 11 MPs, were destroyed in a General Election for the third time in a row, no-deal Brexit is about to hit us, and we’re struggling with all the unknowns of COVID. Good thing we’re raising the big issues here.

  • Seems a bit silly at this time of year when seaside resorts are overwhelmed with visitors and the chances of catching covid are much higher if in an enclosed space for a lengthy time – back in March there were instances of massive numbers of wedding guests getting infected. Also seems open to fraud. I am always astonished at how poor restaurant food is, anyway, compared to making your own and can feed myself very nutritiously for a week for what a meal costs in a “decent” restaurant, so I won’t be joining in the madness.

  • John Marriott 4th Aug '20 - 8:38am

    You can keep your Big Macs. It’s a Double Whopper with cheese and bacon for me – but not often enough for it to kill me.

    I agree with Lord Greaves about bribing people to eat out. As for vegan ‘Glenn’, has he tried Greggs’ veggie sausage roll.? It’s not that bad.

    @Martin Pierce
    Lighten up a bit, old chap. Life will still go on even without the Lib Dems!

  • When I was helping out in Eastbourne last November I went to a nice little vegan place, Oh My Goodness, for a spot of lunch. Alas it seems it is not reopening after the covid restrictions.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 4th Aug '20 - 8:49am

    I agree with this article. The “Eat out to help out” scheme seems a good way to give the economy a boost, while also giving people a nice treat to cheer them up – something that so many people need and deserve at the moment. Why should it be assumed that people will use this to eat “unhealthy” food? Many restaurants specialise in very healthy food. Even those that do serve burgers and chips etc usually do have some healthier options that people can choose. I’m not sure why Glenn thinks he should disapprove of this as a vegan – plenty of vegetarian and vegan restaurants are taking part!

  • John Marriott
    I have. They’re good.

  • I agree with Matt, Tony Greaves and Lorenzo Cherin; it’s a Tory media gimmick that most on here seem to have bought ‘hook, line and sinker’..
    Making up to £30 per week available to those who’d eat out anyway, albeit on different days, is a very poor use of money that could be used for those whose idea of a ‘take-away’ is a food bank, etc.. What happens on 1st September?
    Liberal? Lunacy

  • James Belchamber 4th Aug '20 - 9:17am

    @Max Wilkinson you might have more than one opinion, but it’s this that drove you to write an article. I think it’s fair to understand what you think by what you write about and what you choose not to write about – even if you think it’s “illiberal” to deny someone subsidised fast food (it’s not, that’s silly) it’s notable that you ignore the wider picture of poverty and suffering.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland
    I was making a wry joke about the tendency to “other” entire social groups. I find it telling that it is almost never the person making the comment who needs protecting from themselves. It mostly translates to variations on ” it’s alright for me and thee, but what them over there. They’re not gentlemen like us. They can’t control their urges”. I don’t see it as a Nanny state thing, so much as a form of class bragging.

  • John Marriott 4th Aug '20 - 9:51am

    You may not believe this; but, many years ago I was leafing through an old magazine from the early 1950s. On one page there were a couple of adverts for some food concoction. I seem to recall that the line went something like; “You need lots of calories to keep you going, so eat XYZ! It’s got plenty of them”. Mind you, back then we used to burn them off walking or cycling to school and working. Much much telly back then. Computers? What were they?

    I wonder whether we’ve got it right this time. Oh, here’s another advert for you from the 1950s that I vividly remember: “Walls Ice Cream – More than a treat, a FOOD!” Happy days!

  • Nonconformistradical 4th Aug '20 - 10:18am

    “Making up to £30 per week available to those who’d eat out anyway, albeit on different days, is a very poor use of money that could be used for those whose idea of a ‘take-away’ is a food bank, etc..”

    Agree absolutely. Being old, retired, and reasonably comfortably off I can afford to eat out whenever I want but this subsidy would still apply to people like me – that’s utterly wrong.

  • Anthony Acton 4th Aug '20 - 10:25am

    I agree with Max. It’s nice to hear a LibDem on the popular side of an argument and who makes himself understood. If only we could apply that approach to just one of the bigger current issues we might actually get some traction.

  • If we’d just got another 1000 votes in Cheltenham then we could be having an interesting leadership contest.

  • Phil Beesley 4th Aug '20 - 10:32am

    expats: “Making up to £30 per week available to those who’d eat out anyway…”

    The allowance can be used as many times as a person wishes, so it’s up to £90 per week assuming breakfast, dinner and tea.

    Challenging this government policy is a ‘heads they win, tails you lose’ scenario. It isn’t wise to make a fuss about it. Either you are a busybody telling people that they can not have a few light moments, or you don’t care about obesity etc.

  • Barry Lofty 4th Aug '20 - 11:17am

    Meal vouchers, Doctors to prescribe bike riding and all the other headline grabbing policies continually thrown into the mix by this government are just diversionary tactics to divert attention away from their abysmal record in power and the many allegations still waiting to be resolved.

  • Rob Davidson 4th Aug '20 - 11:25am

    There seem to be two issues raised in the original post.
    1) is it liberal or not to suggest that a half-price meal scheme should be restricted to not promote junk food?
    2) is it good messaging for the Lib Dems to be against a ‘good fun’ policy?

    The classic thing here is that liberals always attack each other instead of the opposition.

    On 1) the country has been in the grip of an obesity crisis for maybe 20 years. Obesity is linked to our cancer, dementia and diabetes crises (not to mention heart disease and respiratory pandemics like flu, SARS, MERS, Swine Flu, Avian Flu and of course Covid19) which also links to our annual winter crises and all year funding crises for health and social care. Is it liberal to promote unhealthy eating, no. No one is liberated by allowing this obesity problem to continue: even if you personally go to the gym and are empowered to make good choices and not be overweight, the extent of the impact of obesity still affects your public services. A short term deal like the current meal deal might still be worth it if economic recovery of restaurants is considered vital for, say, paying for this year’s winter crisis (or if we thought a slap up meal would have any benefit on someone genuinely suffering from mental health issues triggered by lockdown) but, we should not be surprised if cancer, dementia and obesity campaigners warn of the long term impacts of this sort of giveaway. We are, after all, facing multiple spikes, lockdowns and recoveries. This meal deal, and others like it, could be around for much longer than just august.

    On 2) sure, the lib dems might have wanted to stay quiet because it all seems a bit miserly. Or they could have called for booze to be included. Or Haribo. Or, maybe they could have worded it differently. Fine.

    But what benefit to having public spats about messaging issues?

    We could all unite behind the idea that Johnson has been talking about obesity while Sunak is giving a tax break to Burger King. We could point to division in Tory strategy. Some of us could say we will be supporting our high streets and others could say we are fighting our lockdown-flab: both would appeal to the public while we could get agreement too on the incompetent government’s poor handling of Covid messaging and strategy… that would be nice.

  • Max Wilkinson 4th Aug '20 - 11:28am

    Thanks to everyone for continuing to engage.

    Some people, including Tony, are having a wider debate about whether EOTHO is a ‘good’ policy. That’s not my point. I’m interested in whether our response is liberal and whether it is good politics. We have to play the situation as we find it. That’s why I wrote this article.

    James – the point you’re making is obscure. I wrote this article not to encourage the subsidy of any food or discuss food banks, but to point out that our party’s miserable response to EOTHO was illogical, illiberal in the context of what has been proposed and miserable. I’ve written numerous articles in the past on a variety of subjects and you’re welcome to read them. I have also publicly held Cheltenham’s Conservative MP to account on the issue of poverty and food banks and visited a food bank during the election campaign. You can read some press coverage here: https://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/news/cheltenham-news/cheltenham-mp-alex-chalk-told-1884834

  • Paul Barker 4th Aug '20 - 1:28pm

    The point here is that this money isnt plucked from thin air, its Our money, spent on Our behalf by The Government & we have every right to question how its done.
    There are questions over whether its likely to do any good, some people in the Trade reckon its too complicated & will just shift spending from the W/E to midweek rather than increasing spending.
    Since we are talking about subsidising some foods at the expense of others there are also moral questions raised – Why should people opposed to Cruelty in Farming pay to subsidise other people Selling Meat ?
    The scheme is typical of this Governments approach : gimmicks that look good in The Papers but are not part of any overall strategy.

  • John Marriott 4th Aug '20 - 2:18pm

    You know, some of the comments from the ‘killjoys‘ remind me of the comment that the late Ronald Reagan made a few times against opponents, when they started to preach, notably Walter Mondale; “There you go again!” It’s nice to know that perhaps I was wrong to think that I was the only regular contributor to LDV who professed not to have had a humour bypass.

    Some of you folks just take yourselves too seriously. You might have more success at getting through to people if you lightened up a bit.

  • Sue Sutherland 4th Aug '20 - 7:31pm

    This is an extremely good article not because of the argument it puts forward but because the way it’s written makes me long to throw off the shackles of sensible analysis of a policy and shout out let the people have fun!
    I do hope Max is part of the team that’s responsible for our national messaging and not just for Cheltenham.

  • David Allen 4th Aug '20 - 7:43pm

    “Challenging this government policy is a ‘heads they win, tails you lose’ scenario. It isn’t wise to make a fuss about it. Either you are a busybody telling people that they can not have a few light moments, or you don’t care about obesity etc.”

    Did anybody ever tell Nelson Mandela, or Martin Luther King, or William Wilberforce, or indeed Charles Kennedy or Paddy Ashdown. that politics was all about not making a fuss, about keeping your head down, about taking no risks, creating no ructions, and of course, winning no votes?

    Here we are, readying ourselves for a second wave, a winter back in lockdown, an economic and health crisis which could well make what has happened so far look trivial. And here is a joke Government, actually incentivising people to eat drink be merry and spread Covid, because tomorrow we die.

    And here is a joke party of “opposition” demanding that we all treat this as a joke, because it’s only killjoys who dare confront reality.

  • jayne Mansfield 4th Aug '20 - 8:51pm

    I have no objection to people making choices as to whether they eat healthy or unhealthy food, providing of course they take personal responsibility for their choices.

    What is objectionable , is that people like myself are expected to fund this appalling policy, whether it be to eat healthily of otherwise.

    There are children who are going hungry in this country, I have no problem about higher taxes to fund policies that help families who are struggling to feed themselves…. but this poorly targeted policy?

    I think the article and some of the the comments speak for themselves about the modern Liberal Democrat Party and it’s attitudes and values. Are you aware that the poor can’t eat out with or without a voucher?

    Yours sincerely,
    A self confessed Killjoy.

  • Max Wilkinson 4th Aug '20 - 10:51pm

    Sue – thank you for the vote of confidence, but I won’t be waiting by the phone. 😉

    David – I think likening this issue to anything to do with Mandela is a bit much. As for the rest of your comment, I barely know where to begin. “Tomorrow we die” – good grief! I’m arguing against our party’s illogical opposition to discounted burgers, not in favour of spreading the virus.

    Jayne – I’m once again going to have to say that I’m not advocating for EOTHO or belittling food poverty. What I am doing is asking why our response to the policy has been so tone deaf, illiberal and miserable.

  • John Marriott 5th Aug '20 - 9:01am

    @Jayne Mansfield
    Actually, when it comes to bribing people to eat out I agree with you! My point was not about that, although there is a kind of logic behind the scheme. What I was really doing was responding positively to Mr Wilkinson’s article, which brought a welcome breath of humour to the often rather miserable threads that usually grow on LDV.

    Coming back to calories and Walls ice cream (and how awful it tasted back then compared with its modern equivalent), the point I was making to all those food fetishists was how attitudes change over generations. What if fat turns out actually to be good for you?

  • Barry Lofty 5th Aug '20 - 9:36am

    I would like to put on record that I certainly do have a sense of humour,I would not have lived as long without one, but I do not find this government or it’s actions very amusing only in a sarcastic way.!

  • Colin Paine 5th Aug '20 - 10:14am

    Well said, the Facebook post from the party on this was risible and a sure fire way of putting off potential supporters. And it made us look completely illiberal.

  • jayne Mansfield 5th Aug '20 - 10:23am

    @ Max,
    Seeing Jeremy Hunt’s post of his reduced bill on twitter makes me miserable and induces a sense of humour failure. Always polite, the well -mannered chap, does not fail to thank Rishi Sunak for the £50 quid off his bill.

    @John Marriott,
    I agree with you about the ice cream, and many of us already know that we need food from all food groups, but diet is becoming increasingly implicated in many diseases from type 2 diabetes to dementia.

    I am not sure about the sort of logic that halves the cost of a millionaire’s meals out at the expense of those who spend less than that on their weekly food bills, the less fortunate who will be paying for the good fortune of those who can well afford to eat out at their own expense. When help is targeted at the low paid and those in poverty, the money they receive, by necessity, goes back into the local economy.

    I am afraid that covid has highlighted and exacerbated health inequalities in this country, and if there is a liberal way of reducing them, rather than just talking about some mythical alternatives, as those on here are wont to do, may I ask why they continue to exist and what your party intends to do to reduce them?

    As a mood lifter, a burger and chips ( followed by ice cream if I am lucky), just doesn’t do it for me.

    There are a lot of fearful people who have every reason to be miserable, ( I can’t do my bit because of shielding), and threads such as this one do not make me feel any jollier. In fact they depress me enormously.

  • @ Jayne Mansfield Well, your posts always cheer me up, Jayne, and your latest one hits the bullseye.

    Good luck with your shielding. Here in Scotland shielding officially ended on 1 August. We’ve had no covid deaths for 16 days (Well done Nicola and Proffy Jason Leitch). I had my first outing yesterday since 12 March…… spent my Co-op bonus vouchers…. including a tin of mackerel fillets in tomato sauce……… I’m ‘Living the Dream’.

  • John Miller 5th Aug '20 - 1:04pm

    @James Belchamber

    You are completely misunderstanding the aim of this policy. It’s not designed to give people a cheap night out. It is to get people into restaurants spending money to prevent many of them from closing.

    There will be hundreds of thousands more people in the hospitality sector unemployed if kits of restaurants cannot survive. Many of them will then be in food poverty and unable to pay rent!

  • Adrian Sanders 5th Aug '20 - 1:30pm

    Joined up thinking, not. Encouraging healthy eating, not. Helping to meet health targets, not. Prioritising taxpayers money, not.

    In Europe (boundaries as defined by the WHO) a person dies every six seconds from a diabetes related condition.

    If everyone with diabetes in the world lived in one country it would be the third largest.

    £1 in every £10 we spend on our NHS supports people with diabetes.

    The underlying condition in one third of all UK Covid deaths was diabetes.

    Most people with diabetes, around 90%, have Type 2 diabetes. Unlike Type 1 diabetes it can be prevented through lifestyle and diet. In some Type 2 cases it can even be reversed following diagnosis.

    Diabetes is only one condition linked to what we eat.

    The choice we have to make is whether the Liberal Democrats are apologists for Libertarianism or promoters of Liberalism. On this issue our Westminster representatives got it right.

  • Max Wilkinson 5th Aug '20 - 2:38pm

    Adrian – what you say about the world’s health challenge is undoubtedly true. However, I fail to see how it deals with the fundamental issue I raise in the blog: that our policy to remove from EOTHO products arbitrarily deemed unhealthy is miserable, illogical and illiberal. And it’s particularly miserable at this precise moment, when people are already miserable. Is your concern that lots of people will use the EOTHO discount as a gateway to unhealthy lifestyles?

    There is also a suggestion that all our Westminster politicians are behind this. I’m yet to see any evidence of that.

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 5th Aug '20 - 4:08pm

    It may be miserable Max Wilkinson, but so too is living with diabetes. This was an opportunity lost to use taxpayers money to promote healthy eating while still offering a discount to people eating out in much reduced capacity venues. If the purpose was simply as you explain it to be, then alcohol should have been included in the discount. Quite rightly it wasn’t. There are many statements the Party has made over the years I have disagreed with, trying to keep people alive for longer is not one of them.

  • Max Wilkinson 5th Aug '20 - 6:55pm

    Adrian – I’m tempted to say that your past success in politics is evident from your ability to nimbly dodge my question! Are you really suggesting that a 50% discount on fast food 12 days will have such a significant impact on Covid death rates, as our party has claimed?

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 5th Aug '20 - 11:07pm

    Not dodging anything. The answer is every little helps. Government shouldn’t fund healthy eating information on the one hand and subsidise unhealthy eating on the other. The opportunity to coordinate important messaging has been lost and stands as another example of this Government’s incompetence.

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