The law of the jungle is becoming the law of our land

Posted: 4 October 2022 | | No comments yet

Professor Chris Elliott expresses concern over the decisions being made under the Truss ministry and the potential ripple effects it will have on our food system and environment for years to come.

Chris Corner Feature

The massive increases in the cost of the food we buy and the gas and electricity needed to cook it have been well reported over recent weeks and months. The recent financial turmoil the UK faces due to the government’s tax cutting ‘fiscal event’ will cause even more problems for many millions in the UK to feed themselves and their families.

In his excellent New Food article, Joshua Minchin summarised what a weak pound will mean for food and drink prices in the UK and it makes for bleak reading. Worryingly, the UK’s new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, insinuated it will help fight food inflation, saying she was confident the plan would take pressure off consumers by bringing food prices down. At best, this can be described as delusional and, probably more accurately, an attempt to hide the true impact of her policies.  

In a perhaps more truthful statement, Simon Clarke, the levelling up minister, has warned that Britain should prepare for a new age of austerity. There is little doubt that this will be the case, and while the bankers might celebrate their bigger bonuses, much of the rest of society will struggle.

If it wasn’t bad enough, that the government aren’t interested in protecting so many UK citizens, there other signals coming from No. 10 that suggest it also has little to no interest in protecting our climate. Well respected conservation charities such as the RSPB, the National Trust, and Wildlife Trust have all made their anger known over the Truss government’s destructive approach to nature. As a result, it looks likely that the Defra plan to pay farmers subsidies will be dropped.

Truss set the scene for such an obscene policy direction as Trade Secretary. Very recently, following closer examination of the recent Free Trade Agreements with Australia, the International Trade Committee concluded that Australian food and drink exporters will not be required to meet UK food standards, such as environmental and animal welfare. With further government announcements about the future of UK agriculture coming soon, we can only fear for what more damage will be done in terms of climate and national food security.

The link between poor diet and bad health is recognised by health professionals across the world, and the need for major policy interventions urgently required. Yet Truss plans to axe the sugar tax, if she can get away with it; and Thérèse Coffey, the Health Secretary has scraped the promised whitepaper on health inequality. Such decisions will only further lead to more ill-health, particularly among the less well-off, and pile further pressures on the National Health Service (NHS).

16 million Brits forced to cut food and essentials as a result of cost of living

English novelist Rudyard Kipling wrote the very well known and beloved ‘The Jungle Book’, in which he described the behaviour of wolves in a pack as the law of the jungle. Kipling set out to describe the principle that those who are strong and apply ruthless self-interest will be most successful. Could we have a better description of the current UK Government?

As this administration staggers to its end, the amount of damage done to the country, economically, environmentally and to society will be written about for many years to come.