Tablet gate: Conservative bitterness over a sweet gesture is tone-deaf

Written by Tom Freeman on 6 July 2018 in Comment

Criticism of Maree Todd's gift to care-experienced young people reeks of the nanny-statism Conervatives normally abhor

Maree Todd's tablet - Maree Todd

Given two-thirds of Scots are now overweight or obese, and the fact children are being given a higher fat and sugar diet than their parents themselves eat, there is every reason pressure should be put on the government to act swiftly and decisively.

Obesity contributes to diseases which already burden Scotland: heart attack, stroke, cancer, lung disease and poor mental health. Our addiction to sugar is killing us, and we are passing on an even greater burden to our children.

And there is plenty to criticise in the government’s response. Why didn’t the obesity strategy commit to legislation as promised? The newly published ‘A Healthier Future - Scotland’s Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan’ doesn’t even contain the words ‘obesity’ or ‘strategy’.

And why is no-one talking about the Good Food Nation Bill? Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing gave a ministerial statement about the future of agriculture and didn’t mention the bill once.

If there is a commitment to radically change Scotland’s food culture, is hasn’t been on show.

However, criticism of children’s minister Maree Todd for making tablet for a group of care-experienced children has absolutely nothing to do with that.

Todd had posted her home-made recipe on twitter which included 2lb of sugar and a can of condensed milk.

A Scottish Conservative spokesman told the Herald: “Many parents would rather their children didn’t use a recipe that requires two pounds of sugar.

“It’s clear that when the SNP try to encourage healthy eating it’s do as I say not as I do.”

Aside from the fact the idea children are looking at Maree Todd’s twitter account for ideas of what to do in the summer holidays and she is leading them astray is completely ridiculous, the nature of the comment is completely tone-deaf.

Criticising a minister for engaging with care experienced young people in a human, personal way by highlighting what they are eating reeks of the paternalistic, interfering nanny-statism the Scottish Conservatives normally rail against.

And for children in care, being told what is and isn’t an appropriate gift for them only reinforces the pattern of powerlessness than too often characterises their lives.

The tablet episode conjures the image of Philip Schofield admonishing a woman on This Morning for using her benefits money to buy Prosecco at Christmas.

It ignores the basic fact that if Philip Schofield was living on benefits in the years of austerity, he’d be thirsty for a bit of cheer at Christmas.

Similarly, if the anonymous Conservative voice appalled at the sugar content of tablet was a teenager who had grown up in the care system they would probably be touched to get a small square of home-made sweetie.

Many care-experienced young people have talked about how the system is over-cautious in displaying love and affection. About how workers in residential homes could physically restrain but not hug. They have more pressing issues than their sugar consumption.

A personal act of kindness from a government minister is therefore significant.



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