How long will it be before we ban fast food?

You can't have that. You're far too fat.

Soon, it seems, we will no longer be able to do anything that's bad for us. A hospital chief in Cambridgeshire has said that he would like to ban fast food from the hospital site, but is currently "contractually shackled" to provide it. Once free of the contract however (not until 2024), the hospitals will remove anything deemed too "unhealthy" despite a high level of customer demand.

At the moment the hospital offers a number of healthy food options to staff, visitors and patients using the food court and currently people are able to choose from a wide range of food options, from various reports it seems that the hospital’s Burger King outlet is the most popular of food choices available.

The hospital boss Dr McNeil has said that he wants to send a clear message on healthy lifestyle and healthy eating, and has said the hospital is in discussions to remove the Burger King from the food court.

While we have gotten used to the idea of being told whether or not we can smoke in public it seems we need to get used to being told what we can and cannot be allow to eat in certain public places as well. Could this be the first step in "unhealthy" foods (arguably any food eaten in excess) being banned from general accessibility for the public?

While this may prove healthier for patients it reinforces the already well-established fear that we are becoming a society that finds it easier to ban things than educate people of their detrimental effects, ultimately removing their right to a freedom of choice in what they eat.

We need to look past the short term effects if the ban to how it will affect our society. No one wants to live in a country in which people have decisions made for them and are not given the trust and freedom to make the choice themselves.

The key point here is that forcing people to be healthy won’t make them healthy. Removing just one option which is perceived to be worse than others will only encourage the take up of faux-healthy options which the hospital will never be able to remove entirely, while still leaving people ignorant of the health risks associated with certain foods and lifestyles.

As is always the way, prohibition is never the answer and will only leave people ignorant of the facts and how to look after themselves, ever more dependant on the state making decisions for them. Health through education and improved long term results should be the looked to over impulse banning and the instant gratification that accompanies it. 

Photograph: Getty Images

Billy Bambrough writes for Retail Banker International at VRL financial news.
 

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How the Lib Dems learned to love all-women shortlists

Yes, the sitting Lib Dem MPs are mostly white, middle-aged middle class men. But the party's not taking any chances. 

I can’t tell you who’ll be the Lib Dem candidate in Southport on 8 June, but I do know one thing about them. As they’re replacing a sitting Lib Dem (John Pugh is retiring) - they’ll be female.

The same is true in many of our top 20 target seats, including places like Lewes (Kelly-Marie Blundell), Yeovil (Daisy Benson), Thornbury and Yate (Clare Young), and Sutton and Cheam (Amna Ahmad). There was air punching in Lib Dem offices all over the country on Tuesday when it was announced Jo Swinson was standing again in East Dunbartonshire.

And while every current Lib Dem constituency MP will get showered with love and attention in the campaign, one will get rather more attention than most - it’s no coincidence that Tim Farron’s first stop of the campaign was in Richmond Park, standing side by side with Sarah Olney.

How so?

Because the party membership took a long look at itself after the 2015 election - and a rather longer look at the eight white, middle-aged middle class men (sorry chaps) who now formed the Parliamentary party and said - "we’ve really got to sort this out".

And so after decades of prevarication, we put a policy in place to deliberately increase the diversity of candidates.

Quietly, over the last two years, the Liberal Democrats have been putting candidates into place in key target constituencies . There were more than 300 in total before this week’s general election call, and many of them have been there for a year or more. And they’ve been selected under new procedures adopted at Lib Dem Spring Conference in 2016, designed to deliberately promote the diversity of candidates in winnable seats

This includes mandating all-women shortlists when selecting candidates who are replacing sitting MPs, similar rules in our strongest electoral regions. In our top 10 per cent of constituencies, there is a requirement that at least two candidates are shortlisted from underrepresented groups on every list. We became the first party to reserve spaces on the shortlists of winnable seats for underrepresented candidates including women, BAME, LGBT+ and disabled candidates

It’s not going to be perfect - the hugely welcome return of Lib Dem grandees like Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Julian Huppert to their old stomping grounds will strengthen the party but not our gender imbalance. But excluding those former MPs coming back to the fray, every top 20 target constituency bar one has to date selected a female candidate.

Equality (together with liberty and community) is one of the three key values framed in the preamble to the Lib Dem constitution. It’s a relief that after this election, the Liberal Democratic party in the Commons will reflect that aspiration rather better than it has done in the past.

Richard Morris blogs at A View From Ham Common, which was named Best New Blog at the 2011 Lib Dem Conference

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