Theresa May was once seen as the continuity candidate to succeed David Cameron. However, since becoming Prime Minister she has gone on to sideline or backtrack many of Cameron and George Osborne’s pet projects. As well as delaying Hinkley Point and leaving the Northern Powerhouse’s future up in the air, she has provoked anger this week over the Government’s childhood obesity strategy.
While Cameron made clear that childhood obesity would be a flagship issue for his government — with Jeremy Hunt even promising to take draconian measures — May appears to take a different approach. In the report — pushed out in recess — May has scrapped plans to curb junk food advertising and created confusion over Osborne’s sugar tax now that it will no longer be a tax on consumers. What’s more with the Cabinet re-shuffle meaning the majority of the Cameroons are on the backbenches, there are few supporters around to protest the decisions.
Happily, some are still able to speak out. In today’s Times, Cameron’s former speechwriter Clare Foges — who earned the affectionate nickname ‘the Prime Minister’s larynx’ for her work assisting him with public speaking — has written a column urging the Prime Minister to become ‘Nanny Theresa’. In this, she argues that May ought to reconsider the government’s ‘much watered-down child obesity strategy’:
‘Instead of the big government stick we are to have more government nudge: more voluntary agreements with food companies, more hoping that advertisers will be responsible when marketing to children, more softly-softly catchy Coco Pops monkey. Excuse me, Mr Major Food Corporation, sir, would you mind ever so much volunteering to make less money?’
Foges goes on to say that May must realise that the mooted policies were ‘not socialist’ but ‘socially responsible’:
‘Sometimes it is the job of government to act as a countervailing force to the market when it is selling junk, preying on people’s appetites and doing harm.