Tom Goodenough

The Spectator Podcast: Fat Britannia

The Spectator Podcast: Fat Britannia
Text settings

On this week’s Spectator Podcast, we discuss Britain’s obesity crisis, the upcoming German election and the England team’s footballing woes.

First up, Britain’s obesity problem is worsening, says Prue Leith in her Spectator cover piece. The UK is the sixth fattest nation on earth and more than a quarter of the population is obese. Yet despite this worrying epidemic, precious little is being done. So how can we fix this crisis? Spectator Health’s Christopher Snowdon, Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of Action on Sugar, and Professor Francesco Rubino, from Kings College London, have some answers. In her cover piece, Prue Leith writes:

Part of the UK’s problem is that we see government intervention as nannying. I once tried to get Michael Gove to make learning to eat part of the school curriculum so that teachers would take it seriously. He said that the Tory party believed in choice, in parental responsibility, in the individual being accountable for his or her actions. And I agree: in an ideal world, a free society can’t stop people doing what’s bad for them. You can’t close down Cadbury’s because some people eat too much chocolate. But damn it, we don’t let parents decide what’s on the maths curriculum. And since the state must pick up the bill for ill health, I think it has every right to insist on education to limit the risk.

Next: the German election is less than three weeks away, but if you believe the polls, the result already looks inevitable: Angela Merkel appears to be heading for yet another victory. The question preoccupying the pundits then is who will come third, says William Cook in his Spectator article. So how is the fight for third spot shaping up? And what will Germany’s election mean for Brexit? William Cook joins Henry Newman, director of Open Europe. William writes in the magazine:

Under the British electoral system, the result of the coming election would be a CDU landslide, but under the PR system we gave them, it’s virtually inevitable that Merkel will have to govern in some sort of coalition. With her CDU almost sure to win, and the SPD almost sure to come a distant second, the issue that’s preoccupying German pundits is the battle for third place. Under the German system, this is no consolation prize.

And finally: English football is down in the dumps, says Rod Liddle in this week’s magazine. Having been knocked out of the European Championships last year by Iceland, the Three Lions are now struggling to overcome the likes of Malta in qualifying for next year’s World Cup. So what is going wrong? Toby Young and The Spectator’s deputy editor Freddy Gray have their say on the podcast. As Rod writes:

The transfer window recently closed, and if you’re a football fan you may have followed the excitement at finding out who was going where and who was after whom. You might also have noticed that not a single England player was wanted by any European club. Not one. There were no bidding wars over our lantern-jawed striker, Harry Kane. Nobody came in for the two (comparatively) bright prospects Dele Alli and Marcus Rashford. The top teams in Europe (Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, PSG, Juventus, Barcelona, Internazionale, Monaco) have jubilantly diverse squads. In addition to the Germans, Italians, Spanish and French nationals, there are Czechs, Poles, Turks, Croats, Slovakians, Moroccans, Dutch, Belgians, hordes of Latin Americans: every nationality under the sun, except for English. No English at all at any of the top clubs. Nobody wants them, because they’re crap.