"We are going to apply the rules currently applied to children’s TV and apply that to TV more generally, so when you’re sat down with your children, as I do, watching X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent, you’re not going to be seeing adverts for junk food,”Apparently there is "research that children see the adverts for McDonald’s and hassle their parents to go there". And, of course, parents are incapable of resisting. Like zombies they rise from the sofa at nine in the evening (after Britain's Got Talent with all the wicked advertising has finished) and, as if in some drug-induced trance, take the pestering children to McDonald's, KFC or whatever else was advertised during the latest piece of cash generation for the Cowell empire.
We are, unlike the sort of wise person who becomes a Labour front bench spokesperson on public health, completely captured by advertising, snared by the subtle webs of influence that cunning marketers weave around their products. There is no escape. We are doomed to a life entirely driven by the content of prime time advertising. Like puppets we bounce along to the tunes of neoliberal hegemony as presented by crafty copywriters who force - yes, force - us to consume, consume and consume again.
Research has shown this. That sociologist friend of the Labour Party front bench spokesperson says so and who are we to argue with the author of masterworks whose titles drip with stuff about 'neoliberalism'. Parents everywhere will flock to the party's banner knowing that they will be rescued from their children throwing a tantrum because they've said 'no' to a sugar, fat and salt stuffed snack.
This is easy politics - "for the children" screeches the Labour frontbench spokesperson and the media joyfully laps it up, wraps it in a comfort blanket of "we should do something", and then wheels out all its friends from the public health industry to support the proposals. Action on Sugar, Campaign Against Salt, Fuss About Fat - legions of publicly funded cheery souls pop up on TV and radio sternly explaining how if we banned advertising everyone will suddenly be thin as rakes and healthy as the butchers dog (except we're not allowed red meat any more because that will give us cancer).
Let's get some things clear here.
Advertising does not raise aggregate demand (however loudly kids shout)
People have agency (we don't have to buy stuff just because it's on telly)
Obesity isn't caused by eating sugar (or fat)
Salt is not bad for you (it's an essential nutrient - without it you die)
Obesity - or smoking or drinking - isn't the reason for the NHS funding crisis (quite the opposite)
Banning adverts means less money for TV companies to make programmes you like
Neoliberalism is a word made up by idiot sociologists
Voters are fed up with being bossed around (hadn't you noticed yet?)