Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Banned By The State VII - Mince Pies

There's something so inevitable about schools banning food made by parents that I thought twice about relating this woeful tale. And then I decided that I would because it says a lot about the status of the individual in Britain today.

The piteous detail is that a school in South Wales has banned pupils from taking home-made mince pies, cakes and biscuits to its Christmas fair. The reason is that the school are worried that someone might get food-poisoning. The Head Teacher is quoted as saying "I don't know what the ingredients are, and there are allergies, and because of things like that we made a decision as a school."

I appreciate that most schools haven't taken this sort of step. Yet. Our children's school held its own Christmas Fair on Saturday, there was a cake stall selling parents' contributions (including, I might add, that of Mrs Womble On Tour, whose cooking is fantastic) and as far as I know everyone's still alive. But it's only a matter of time before this kind of lunacy spreads.

What this says to me is that: a) schools are worried about getting sued; b) parents are deemed as being incapable of making their own risk-based decisions about whether to buy from a cake-stall or not; c) there is a culture of risk elimination (instead of risk management) in many institutions - not just State-run ones, either; d) as a consequence individual responsibility (the fake-mantra of the Blair era that was oft-spoken but always ignored) is further reduced.

There's a ratchet effect in progress here, too. Power is taken out of the hands of individuals because individuals are deemed incapable of arriving at a decision. That means they have less responsibility and less freedom to make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons. So next time someone in authority comes to a view about where decisions lie, they have a further excuse not to grant decision-making powers to individuals. And so it goes on. A bit like growing up in reverse.

I believe that the biggest single thing that could change this is a realisation on the part of our legal system that it's time common sense was applied. If someone eats a mince pie from a school cake stall and then throws up for a couple of days, that's tough. It's not an excuse for a writ. Our legislature and those acting on its behalf has to realise that people are capable of taking their own decisions, and what's more they should be encouraged to do so.

Until that happens, the Nanny State is going to carry on expanding at a terrying rate.


Shades said...

Until that happens, the Nanny State is going to carry on expanding at a terrying rate.

terrying? as in nappies?

Andrew Allison said...

I remember last Christmas something about a village fair having to declare that the mince pies may contain traces of nuts! I think it was the council who had more than a few traces there!