Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Why fewer children are taking school meals

Lib Dem Comment on the revelation by David Laws that fewer children are taking school meals than before the start of Jamie Oliver's campaign for healthier menus has generally taken the line that the change to better food was asking too much of children and parents. We simply could not expect the proles to give up their microchips so quickly.

This is certainly the line taken by David himself and by Lib Dem blogger Arwen Folkes. Even Norfolk Blogger, who is critical of David Laws, shares the assumption that the masses do not want good food, but he thinks the government was right to press on with the changes anyway.

But could there be another explanation.

Parents watched programmes that repeatedly told them that school meals were dreck. In the light of this they took the perfectly understandable decision to send their children to school with packed lunches instead. They have heard great claims being made for the new school menus, but given their record in the past they are not rushing to send their children back to the canteens.

It is odd that, after 60 years of the welfare state, we routinely view the people as far less competent than we did when it was founded. The thought that the great majority of parents care more about their children's welfare than anything else and are perfectly able to make decisions in those children's best interests now seems hopelessly naive.

But I think it is true. I am a liberal because I believe that people are the best judge of their own interests. What sometimes puzzles me is why people who do not share this optimism declare that they are liberals too.

No comments: