Monday, 9 August 2010

The fastest u-turn in the West?

Ernie may have been the fastest milkman in the West but even he couldn't match the speed of the u-turn done on free school milk by the Tories over the weekend.
In brief - the UK health minister argues for abolition of free school milk for under 5s to save £50m a year. Cameron hears echoes of "Thatcher milk snatcher" (when Margaret Thatcher was a minister in the early 1970s she abolished free school milk for 7-11 year old pupils). Cameron executes swift u-turn and bins the policy.
The cynic in me suggests that Cameron may have played up the swiftness of the binning to distance himself from Thatcher. Who knows what is spin and substance in the ConDem nation anymore?


Anonymous said...

As a father to young primary school kids, can I just ask why kids should get free milk at school? And if it's such an important issue, then, why not demand that they also get free fruit as well? What's wrong with a glass of tap water?

I'm sorry, but kids are in school to get an education. What parent doesn't give their kids a glass of milk? If they can't afford milk then the kids get free school dinners. If they don't give their kids milk then there's an issue that the kids shouldn't be with those parents at all.

Free school milk in the 1970s put me off milk until my late teens - horrible, warm milk which smelt awful. Did me no good what so ever.

With the money saved from 'free school milk' it could go towards, erm, teaching or at least an important extra curricular activity like music lessons - the kind of thing poor kids really do miss out on.

Sorry, but you're falling into Labour's trap of painting everything the Tories do as 'Bad' - that'll only lead to more votes for the Labour not for Plaid.

Plaid needs a more nuanced approach not be Labour's lap dogs. This is Labour's economic legacy. If kids need free milk, like a 3rd world state, then that says a lot for the economic and cultural legacy left by Labour.

Plaid Whitegate said...

If you read the piece, there is no mention of the proposed policy as "bad", although I happen to think it was the wrong decision. Milk is an important source of calcium, which is important in early years. We might not have liked school milk in the 70s, but saying it "did me no good whatsoever" isn't a scientific judgement.
This blog hasn't painted all ConDem decisions as bad - we've welcomed scrapping of ID cards for example.
The substance of the blog was wondering whether Cameron's apparent over-ruling of his junior minister was purely due to the negative associations with Thatcher or whether he was cleverly distancing himself from her. We'll find out in 30 years no doubt.

Anonymous said...

People with agendas are commenting on all the Plaid blogs suggesting we should support all kinds of Tory policies whether it's scrapping benefits, scrapping milk, scrapping whatever.

It is all well and good saying we shouldn't be Labour's lap dogs but we are in fact at opposition at Westminster- and the Tories don't agree with our party policies. A small point but a pretty fundamental, democratic one at that!

Alwyn ap Huw said...

Whatever is done about free school milk should be evidence based. There is no doubt that in the 1940's when the benefit was first introduced that calcium deficiency amongst some children was a real health problem.

If free school milk was withdrawn would it result in the return of calcium deficiency amongst children?

That is the important question that Anne Milton didn't ask before announcing that free milk was to be scrapped and which David Cameron didn't ask before over-ruling her. Because neither of them looked at the evidence both of them were wrong.

Anonymous said...

As the first anon. I'd like to add that 'Free' school milk was brought in during a time of rationing when stuff like milk would have been in shorter supply. Whatever the economic situation facing the UK today it's not in a situation of rationing. This is the kid of policy driven in African states following a famine. If kids aren't getting enough milk for calcium at home then I'd suggest the least of their problems is actually lack of free school milk but rather a lack of parental care.

I'm a Plaid supporter but the mess we're in at the moment is caused by Labour. I've no doubt that the Tories have a pretty open agenda of dismanteling the Labour state brick by brick. There are parts of that Plaid can agree on and others Plaid can't.

My point is, everytime Plaid say 'Tories bad' people tend to think, 'oh, ok, I'll vote Labour then'. There are parts of Labours welfare agenda which was purely bribing the voters or pork barrel politics for their core voters. Free school milk is one of them.

Plaid Whitegate said...

"Children who eat plenty of dairy foods such as milk and cheese can expect to live longer, a study suggests.
Some 4,374 UK children from a 1930s study were traced 65 years later by researchers in Bristol and Queensland.
They found those who had had high dairy and calcium intakes as children had been protected against stroke and other causes of death, journal Heart reports.
Despite dairy containing artery furring fat and cholesterol, high consumption did not raise the heart disease risk.
The findings appear to back the practice of giving extra milk to schoolchildren."