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Sweet Shops and the Bitter Taste of Defeat



by Alan Bickley

According to The Daily Mail, there is a “deluge of tacky US-themed sweet and souvenir shops taking over [the] West End.” Many of these shops use social media “to tempt children into stores and sell highly unhealthy products.” Apparently, there is “a loophole” in the law that allows importers from America to ignore the limits on sugar content imposed on British sweet manufacturers.

As a brief aside, I denounce any controls on the sugar content of sweets, and add that whether or not children should be able to buy or consume sweets of any kind ought to be a matter for their parents alone. However, this is a very brief aside. My chief interest in the Mail report is a reference to a campaigning group called Action on Sugar. This was just a single reference in an article that appears to have been thrown together in the usual way from several news releases. But it caught my attention because it was to a group I had not yet noticed. I looked it up. Sure enough, Action on Sugar is

a group of specialists concerned with sugar and its effects on health. It is successfully working to reach a consensus with the food industry and Government over the harmful effects of a high sugar diet, and bring about a reduction in the amount of sugar in processed foods.

That is, it is yet another fake charity. Funded at several removes by the taxpayers, its function is to oppress the taxpayers. I checked its entry on the Register of Charities. Its full name is Consensus Action on Salt, Sugar and Health, and its funders include The University of London, The Medical Research Council, The National Institute for Health Research, and the Regional Office for South-East Asia of the World Health Organisation. Why this last organisation should take time from worrying about malnutrition in places like Bangladesh to funding complaints about the sugar consumed by British children is beyond my inclination to ask. But a look through these various websites shows a very large network of public funders, all committed, as I have said, to lording over those ultimately providing the cash they hand around.

Again, I will pause briefly to denounce the active function of these various organisations. Again, however, this is not my present concern. Action on Sugar has an income of just £113,168, and it employs just four people. But it is part of a network of similar organisations that employ tens of thousands of people in what I have called the parasitic wing of the bourgeoisie, or what is more generally The Establishment.

The function of an Establishment is to set the public tone of the society in which it is established. It decrees what is true and false and such terms of debate over these things as may be thought respectable. It does this by giving employment to whole generations of university graduates. These are expected to give vocal support to the immediate objects of their employing organisations. They are also expected to support the general ideology of the Establishment, and to police the support for this ideology among those outsiders who deal with the Establishment. It is general support that allows those employed in any one organisation to move to others and to build entire careers that often bring considerable incomes on easy terms. Where possible, these employees capture institutions that may initially be outside the formal Establishment, but, once flooded with people just like themselves, become part of the Establishment. We can see this with The Esmée Fairburn Foundation. This is a private funding agency and was not set up with the idea of funding Action on Sugar, or The Manchester Refugee Support Network, or the Alternative Theatre Company. But it now does fund these and many other like them.

These fake charities are only part of the Establishment. They are a junior part of a network that includes education, the Law, the media, the public bureaucracies, the professional bodies, and the larger limited liability companies. This is an Establishment that presents a wall of at least passive hostility to those outside who do not agree with its objects. Of course, every society not presently torn apart by civil war has always had an Establishment, and other Establishments have often behaved more unpleasantly than the one we have in England. Even so, England has never before had an Establishment so openly directed to impoverishing and enslaving those who pay for it, and to the dissolution of the nation in which it exists. The question of how much salt or sugar may be bad for us is not even of secondary importance compared with the existence of bodies like Action on Sugar and of the general ecology within which it exists.

If we were living in the twenty fifth year of a Labour Government, there would be no reason for surprise. What we now have is the logical outcome of the 1997 election. The overall aim of the Blair Government was to destroy the “forces of conservatism.” This has now been achieved. There are no longer any conservative institutions. If they want to remain employed – often self-employed – individual conservatives keep their heads down. Outspoken advocacy of what was either tolerated or the consensus in 1997 can even be a criminal offence. None of this would be surprising if Labour had won every election since 1997. But Labour lost the 2010 election, and we have had majority Conservative Governments since 2015. The new Ministers made sure at once to put their pimps and drug-dealers on the payroll. Nothing was done to shake the existing Establishment or to create a conservative counter-Establishment. Instead, Conservative Ministers have made conservative noises come every election time. Otherwise, they have presided over a state machine they are unable or unwilling to direct to any conservative end.

Approached for a comment on the sugar story in The Daily Mail, a conservative Member of Parliament would have laughed and rung off – and then sent a letter of complaint to the relevant Minister about the continued existence of Action on Sugar. But “Nickie” Aiken – or Aitken: the Mail cannot nowadays spell names consistently – is the Conservative Member for the Cities of London and Westminster. Her comment on the sweet shops was:

I think they are wrong on a number of levels – what they’re offering and the way they entice young people and children into their stores with these bizarre marketing strategies. They are a bit like the modern day childcatcher.

Every so often, some Establishment figure stands up and calls for a “national conversation” on something. This is always notice that something nasty has been agreed behind doors, and that the rest of us must be taught how to agree with it. Well, I now call for a conversation among the few dozen readers of Free Life on whether we need a Conservative Party.

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