Thursday, January 04, 2007

Cameron's Corn Laws

Whilst Michael Grove seems to be using the Levellers as inspiration for Tory housing policy, Dave has gone for a more traditional inspiration for his food policies; that symbol of early 19th century High Toryism the Corn Laws.

As anybody with A-level history knows the Corn Laws were introduced in the early 19th century to protect British (Tory) landowners from competition from foreign imports. The result being to drive up food prices for the rapidly expanding urban poor, leading to the formation of the anti-corn law league and the birth of the Liberal Party (kind of).

Now the boy David wouldn't be so crude as to call openly for a subsidy for (tory voting) farmers, but in his call for the Government to "Buy British" that is in effect what he is doing. The clear implication is that Dave believes that the Government should pay over the market rate for food as long as it is British, and that the mostly urban (and non-tory voting) taxpayers should pick up the tab. Oh and of course, as Tim Worstal has repeatedly pointed out, buying British is often worse for the environment. So much for the green credentials.

As a good liberal I abhor the idea of subsidising failing businesses, particularly with my taxes (and especially as the occasionally user of government canteens if it will make my lunch even more overpriced).

For that is what farms are at the end of the day, businesses. Its obviously a deep personal tragedy for a farming family to see their business go to the wall, but so it is for any small businessman whose company can't survive in the globalized marketplace, and I don't see the Tories queuing up to demand the Government source only British paperclips.


Anonymous Tom Papworth said...

I heartily agree. In fact, I used the Corn Laws analogy myself (and we are not alone!).

12:30 am  
Blogger Tristan said...

I agree too.
This is just outright protectionism and mercantalism from Cameron.

My only hope is that it will lead to a new generation of Peelites defecting to the Liberals...

10:31 am  
Anonymous Tabman said...

Like most things, I'm afraid, it isn't quite that simple. Cameron isn't right, but neither are you (or Tim Worstall) totally right either. There are subtle distinctions here, not least between large, prarie-like agri-business farms and small, organic farms.

Simply put - the best type of food from health, nutritional and ethical POV is stuff that is seasonal and has minimal time from field to plate with minimal adulteration en route.

A lot of people understand this, and so Cameron's statement wil chime with them even though we know its not like that.

12:20 pm  

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