Bill Carmichael: Get a grip – Britain really isn’t starving

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OH, what a terrible state we are in!

Famine stalks the land with millions starving for want of basic sustenance.

We are fast approaching a level of dire penury, according to the BBC, not seen since the days of the poverty-stricken Lancashire coalfields of the 1930s, as described by George Orwell in the Road to Wigan Pier.

People are in such a state of destitution, according to one Labour MP, that they can no longer afford a decent funeral and are instead being forced to bury their loved ones in the back garden.

Do you recognise this description of your country? No? Well join the club, because it is quite simply nonsense on stilts. And, despite the hysterical shroud-waving of the BBC, there are plenty of reasons for a dose of healthy scepticism – not least the curious fact that amid this unprecedented period of famine we are also experiencing an epidemic of obesity.

So, we are asked to believe that people on benefits are simultaneously starving to death because of a lack of food while becoming immensely fat because they eat too much. How does that work?

For enlightenment I turned to one of the many tear-jerking tales of poverty on the BBC website.

Under the headline ‘The young people going hungry in the UK this winter’ one told the heart-breaking story of 19-year-old Yasmin who complained she had “gained loads of weight” since moving into a YMCA hostel in Burton upon Trent.

The reason for the rapid weight gain, she explained, apparently in all seriousness, was that she didn’t have enough to eat.

In what might be a first for medical science she described the process: “When I’m not eating my body stores the fat and makes me fatter.”

Yasmin, apparently a qualified cook, also complained that she would like to eat nice food like risotto, but couldn’t because she could only afford “stuff like rice”. Clearly she’s not that qualified a cook then.

All of these fantastical tales are swallowed without question by gullible reporters from the BBC and elsewhere without proper journalistic scrutiny.

It seems that as long as it fits in with the preferred narrative – Evil Tories Starve the Poor! – then no tale is too patently absurd to pass muster for publication.

Whatever Yasmin’s problems they don’t include a lack of calories, or the money to pay for them. And as the all-party Feeding Britain report pointed out this week, home-cooked meals prepared from scratch are often cheaper, and certainly healthier, than fat-laden and expensive convenience foods.

Either way if Yasmin is gaining weight it is clearly preposterous to assert, as the BBC does, that she is “going hungry” this winter. She simply isn’t.

Living on benefits can be tough – although no tougher than working in a poorly-paid, back-breaking job and paying ridiculous levels of tax to keep the bloated welfare state afloat.

The benefits system is supposed to act as a temporary safety net – not a permanent lifestyle choice by people who prefer not to work and who expect their more diligent neighbours to pick up the tab.

No one denies that times are hard. Despite economic growth that has outstripped our competitors and the creation of two million new jobs since 2010, wages remain stagnant and we are still mired in debt.

But starvation? No. Famine? No. Grannies being buried in back gardens? No.

Just calm down and get a grip.

Followers of fashion

JUST a few years ago eco zealots somehow persuaded governments that if we all switched to diesel cars we would save the planet.

So motorists were encouraged to replace their petrol models with diesels because, we were told, they were greener, cleaner and more fuel efficient.

It now turns out that was a terrible mistake. Diesels are now seen as “the most significant driver” in the increase in air pollution that is blamed for the deaths of 29,000 people each year.

So after years of incentivising motorists to switch to diesel, MPs are now suggesting a taxpayer-funded scrappage scheme to get rid of diesel 
cars.

Clear evidence, if you needed it, that green obsessions are more about fashion than about science.