Andrew Selous: Our children need a 9pm watershed for junk food adverts

The latest consultation was due to be published at the end of 2018, but there is still no clear publication date in sight.

Andrew Selous is MP for South West Bedfordshire and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Obesity.

Last June, the Government published the second chapter of its childhood obesity plan, which set a new national ambition to halve childhood obesity by 2030. It’s great to see that we are now poised to make that dramatic improvement to the health of our children and future generations. And not a moment too soon.

I find it scarcely believable that more than a quarter of children in the UK are overweight or obese; and a child who is obese is five times more likely to remain so as an adult. Obesity can lead to a number of devastating yet preventable diseases, including 13 different types of cancer.

And if its impact on the health of our youngsters wasn’t enough, it’s estimated that each year obesity costs the NHS £5.1 billion and the wider economy £27 billion – money we can ill afford to squander.

But there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to realise that ambition. First, the Government must consult on the commitments laid out in the plan. The latest consultation, on the possible introduction of a ban on all TV adverts for food high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) before 9pm and equivalent restrictions online, was due to be published at the end of 2018, but there is still no clear publication date in sight.

According to Cancer Research UK’s posters, which were displayed around Westminster tube station in January, teenagers who recall seeing junk food adverts every day are twice as likely to be obese. And those who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat a whopping 520 extra snacks a year.

Recent early-stage analysis of advertising data for May 2018, also done by the charity, found that on ITV1, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky One, around half (49 per cent) of all food adverts shown between 6pm and 9pm in May 2018 were advertising HFSS products. And that fast food and delivery brands accounted for more than a quarter (27 per cent) of those HFSS adverts.

So to protect youngsters from a barrage of unhealthy food adverts every time they tune in to watch popular prime time shows, it’s crucial Government recommends and implements a 9pm watershed as a result of the consultation.

There is no one size fits all approach to reducing childhood obesity, but it’s time industry buckled down and took some responsibility.

There will always be concerns when changes to regulation are proposed. But a watershed doesn’t automatically mean that businesses and broadcasters will suffer financially. Cancer Research UK analysis has found that only a relatively small proportion of ITV1, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky One’s advertising revenue in May 2018 was derived from HFSS ads.

This revenue loss would be mitigated by the fact that a watershed would only apply between 5.30am and 9pm. On top of this, many of the brands that currently advertise HFSS foods before the watershed already have non-HFSS alternatives which they could advertise instead, further reducing any potential impact on broadcasters’ revenue.

And as demonstrated by the recent ITV partnership on the Veg Power campaign, there are other products to advertise.

This fantastic new advert, which calls for kids to eat more veg, shows a willingness from the broadcasting industry to move away from HFSS advertising, but is also an admission from advertisers that prime time television is particularly impactful.

This advert was designed to speak directly to kids, but rather than being showing on dedicated children’s programming, it was launched during an episode of The Voice on a Saturday evening. While this advert doesn’t promote junk food, it is absolutely crucial these types of shows are regulated to prevent adverts that do – we need a 9pm watershed.

Besides, the cost to the long-term health of our children is what really should matter. That’s why there are no excuses for not implementing this ambitious but necessary plan to reverse the tide of obesity engulfing our country.

Alan Mak: To be fit for the future, the health service must “axe the fax” – and the pager

These archaic machines cause NHS patients to miss appointments, hospitals to lose records, and cost millions of pounds in paper storage each year.

Alan Mak is the MP for Havant and is the Chairman of the APPG on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. His NHS Fax Machines and Pagers Bill is presented in Parliament today.

Conservatives have a long and proud record of supporting and investing in our NHS. As Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said when launching the new NHS Long Term Plan last month, the Health Service is “one of our proudest achievements” as a nation, and for over 40 of the NHS’ 70 years it has been under the care of Conservative Ministers.

Our Party has nurtured the NHS to serve generations of patients and the £20.5 billion a year delivered by the Long Term Plan is the biggest ever cash injection in its history. This means more investment in our hospitals, more doctors and nurses, and more resources to tackle major diseases. But extra funding alone won’t secure the NHS’s future. To boost productivity and improve patient care and safety, Conservatives must ensure that the NHS seizes the opportunities presented by new technologies too.

We have a duty to prepare the NHS for radical technological change, and in so doing, an electoral opportunity to strengthen our Party’s standing on the NHS by being the patients’ champion – harnessing technology to drive up clinical standards and improve patient care. That was the argument I made in my NHS technology report published last year by the Centre for Policy Studies and launched by the then Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. By adopting the new technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in the Health Service we can put patients at the heart of a reformed digital-first NHS.

Rightly, the Long Term Plan shares this ambition and sets out the Government’s vision for a modern NHS that uses digital tools to improve patient care and safety. This means pushing forward with an unabashed desire to change the culture of a large public service organisation that has not always been the quickest to adapt to innovation. Decades of underinvestment in our digital health infrastructure has left the NHS at risk of being unable to take full advantage of the new waves of technological breakthroughs that are already revolutionising healthcare – and indeed other aspects of our society and economy. Fuelled by artificial intelligence, Big Data, wearable devices and personalised medicines, these 4IR innovations are set to turbocharge our fight against cancer, heart disease, dementia and other diseases and illnesses.

The Long Term Plan includes a welcome commitment for the NHS to become fully digital and paperless within the next decade. This digital-first NHS would see seamless interactions between GPs, hospitals, and community care; patients not having to wait for appointment confirmations in the post; and an end to health records being lost through human error. Embedding 4IR technologies into the NHS would also drive improvements in detection rates, pioneer new treatments and ultimately deliver better patient outcomes. Meanwhile, precision medicines, personalised for each patient and taking into account an individual’s genetic profile, can be at the forefront of treating disease in the years ahead, becoming a staple in the doctors’ toolbox. Put simply, the future of healthcare is exciting – and has the potential to catch-up with the smartphone era and patients’ digital expectations if we give the NHS the right tools.

But holding back the NHS from achieving these outcomes is a stubborn reliance, in some areas, on ageing technology such as pagers and fax machines. While the Long Term Plan clearly sets out a desire to “axe the fax”, there remain 8,000 of them in use across the NHS making the Health Service the largest consumer of fax machines worldwide. These archaic machines cause patients to miss appointments, hospitals to lose records, and cost NHS Trusts millions of pounds in paper storage each year, as well as being slow, unwieldy, and hard to maintain.

Meanwhile, the pager, which reached the height of its popularity in the mid-1990s, provides doctors and nurses with a limited amount of information, sometimes no more than a bleep, as they tackle a multitude of complex situations on hospital wards. This has led to 97 per cent of doctors admitting in a British Medical Journal survey that they use instant messaging services such as WhatsApp as an alternative, despite these being banned due to concerns over patient confidentiality. Of the one million pagers believed to be left in use worldwide, around ten per cent of them are used in our Health Service.

Yet there are cheap and easy-to-use alternatives available to NHS Trusts. As the Health Secretary has rightly pointed out, e-mail could be used as a way of communicating without the need for paper. And instead of relying on pagers, there are several specialist WhatsApp-style messaging systems available to the NHS. These include Medic Bleep, an app which when trialled at West Suffolk Hospital was found to save £4.5 million worth of staff time largely because doctors and nurses don’t have to wait by a landline phone to respond to pager bleeps. I visited the Hospital to see Medic Bleep in action first hand (see film above) and witnessed its obvious versatility when compared to old-fashioned pagers. If replicated across the 227 NHS Trusts in England new digital messenger systems that replace pagers could potentially save the Health Service more than £1 billion every year which can be redirected to frontline services.

The availability of modern replacements, and the need to rapidly upgrade the Health Service’s technology base, are the reasons I’m introducing new legislation in Parliament today that would ban fax machines and pagers in our NHS by 2021. My National Health Service (Prohibition of Fax Machines and Pagers) Bill can be a firm foundation on which to build a digital-first NHS that fully harnesses the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that is taking place in healthcare, consigning fax machines and pagers to the scrapheap of history.

Equally importantly, I hope the Bill also sends a clear message that we Conservatives are serious about renewing our NHS for the future, coupling serious financial investment with determined renewal of the tools that our doctors and nurses use and the care patients receive. By investing in the best technology – and phasing out the worst – we can ensure our NHS continues to serve us well for the next 70 years and beyond.

Andy Street: Beneficial, healthier, better. Our West Midlands plan to get people out of cars and on to cycles.

“We want to kick-starting a transport revolution that steers our population towards healthier ways of getting from A to B.”

Andy Street is Mayor of the West Midlands, and is a former Managing Director of John Lewis.

The West Midlands is on the move. The economic ascent of the region continues at pace, with recent figures confirming the greatest increase in productivity anywhere outside London.  Now we want to get the West Midlands on the move in a different way – by kick-starting a transport revolution that steers our population towards healthier ways of getting from A to B. That means encouraging more cycling and walking – and that means big investment is needed. We are well on the road to this aim in the West Midlands, but we want to work with the Government to secure more funds for cycling.

So is it worth it? I agree with Jesse Norman, the Minister responsible for cycling, who argues that active travel is good for the economy. How? It reduces the cost of congestion, cuts pollution and drives physical activity, which itself helps both personal health outcomes and reduces NHS costs. Higher footfall helps our high streets too. The business case for spending more is compelling.

Across the UK we need to make cycling and walking policy priorities. Our job in the regions is to ensure that we make the right choices with the funds we have, which means sharing ideas and learning from each other. But if we want to see a step change in how people move around, more funds are needed. We aim to supercharge cycling in the West Midlands. By 2023, we want five per cent of all trips to be made by cycle, from current levels of 1.7 per cent. This would represent roughly a three-fold increase and put us on an equal level with London.

Government backing, through the Department of Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund, is already helping to make cycling a more viable choice for journeys across the region.  Its Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy is making £2 billion available across the UK. But when it comes to boosting cycling in the UK’s regions, we want to be the leader of the pack. To use a cycling term, we want that yellow jersey.

Our aim is to bring about a modal shift from dependence on the car to public transport and healthier alternatives. Ambitious transport plans are already underway, investing in everything from Metro tram routes to new railway stations, from rapid bus services to park and ride hubs – but cycling must also play a critical role.

We face our own obstacles. The sprawl of the West Midlands – across its seven boroughs of Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Solihull, Walsall, Coventry, Dudley and Sandwell – make pedal power a tougher challenge than on the Lycra-clad streets of London.
However, we now have a clear and ambitious plan to get people into the saddle and steer them towards trying a healthier mode of transport.

That’s why we have set a goal to raise cycling investment to at least £10 a head each year. This commitment – described by Cycling UK as a ‘truly landmark announcement’ – aims to create a network of strategic cycle routes, backed by an investment of up to £250 million. We have identified 26 priority corridors for investment, covering 200km through Birmingham, the Black Country, Coventry and Solihull. A route linking Birmingham and Wolverhampton – along a restored canal towpath – is now nearing completion.

A West Midlands Cycling and Walking Ambassador should be appointed by the end of March. Communities will help identify great places to cycle, and a family festival of cycling will spread the word. All of these strands will be united under one recognisable regional brand – West Midlands Cycle.

But this isn’t just about persuading people to get on their bikes – it’s about providing the opportunities for them to do so. We want local people to catch the cycling bug. This May will see the Birmingham Velo, a 100-mile closed road cycling race. 17,000 people have signed up to take part and a shorter 42-mile course has just been added, with an extra 3,000 places.

In Wolverhampton, the first 25 ‘nextbikes’ have just arrived, as our region’s first bike share scheme pilot gets underway. Provided at five stations across the city, the bikes are part of a trial ahead of a full launch across the region later this year. The scheme will eventually offer 5,000 bikes with three planned maintenance hubs, creating 50 new jobs including area managers, van drivers and mechanics.
Crucially, it will be the UK’s first bike share scheme to be integrated with a region-wide smart ticketing system and will be the largest of its kind outside London. We hope to achieve the kind of impact that Boris made with his bikes.

Aside from cycling, we also want to encourage people to utilise a mode of transport known in the Black Country as ‘Shanks’s Pony’ – the simple art of walking. Statistics show that, between the mid-1970s and 2011, the total number of walking trips per person each year fell from 336 to 186. In the West Midlands, levels of walking are the lowest in the country. We are applying the same logic to encourage walkers as we have with cyclists, by identifying direct routes to important destinations – such as town centres or employment sites.

Just as with cycling, encouraging walking is also about giving people enough room and improving safety, with better road crossings and lighting. Signage also plays an important role. We have been working with walking charity Living Streets, to encourage schoolchildren to walk to school with great results.

Finally, as we encourage people off the roads, we are lucky in the West Midlands to be able to turn to an existing network that predates the age of the car – the canals. Our historic canals are a significant part of the existing West Midlands Metropolitan Cycle Network with 219.2 km of towpaths across the region. TfWM and our seven constituent local authorities have been working with the Canal and River Trust for years to restore these much-loved routes, which travel through the heart of our communities.

Many of these canals, once derelict relics of our industrial past, are now synonymous with the regeneration of the West Midlands – forming iconic city-centre landmarks and offering pleasant walks and cycle routes. They are testament to how real investment can revive areas and change perceptions. Sustained support for our cycling plans would put us in the fast lane to achieving real change.

Rachel Wolf: On policy, it’s not the Independent Group that’s driven to the margins. It’s the Conservative Right.

The new group’s platform is not very inspiring – if, like me, you still feel public services could do with improvement. But its biggest problem is it they won’t be very different from the Conservatives’.

Rachel Wolf is a partner in Public First. She was an education and innovation adviser at Number 10 during David Cameron’s premiership, and was founding director of the New Schools Network.

Will the former Conservative and Labour Members of the Independent Group find it easy to come to a consistent policy platform? And will that platform be ‘centre left’ or ‘centre centre’? My answers, in turn, are “yes”, and “there is no longer a meaningful distinction in Westminster between these two”.

To explain why, it’s important to look at the wider policy background.  There’s not been much of policy discussion within the Conservative Party recently. It’s wholly unclear what its domestic agenda would be at the next general election. Brexit dominates.

That will have to change. Anyone who campaigned in the 2017 general election discovered – to their cost – that many voters cared less about Brexit than the Conservative Party did. Doorstep conversations were often focused on the NHS and school funding – where the Conservatives were repeatedly crushed.

People in Westminster are often process, politics, and personality geeks – but the public care more about issues. Miserably, Brexit has whittled the number of domestic policy discussions to almost zero. The environment has become a major policy focus because at least, under Michael Gove, the Conservatives have something – anything – to say (even if that anything now appears to include a strong support for protectionism and tariffs).

Vote Leave, of course, recognised all this. Their arguments focused on the concrete: NHS funding, immigration control. Ideas that would have a direct impact on voters.

So if the Independent Group are to survive – and grow – they will need to make a differentiated case to the electorate on issues that they care about. One of their challenges, in my view, is that the space open for them is not as wide as many think.

While Theresa May talks like a traditional Conservative, domestically her government is increasingly indivisible from one that would be run by a Soft Left (not even necessarily Blairite) Prime Minister. She may have talked about citizens of nowhere, and Gavin Williamson may engage in occasional sabre-rattling, but all the substance points in the opposite direction.

The Conservative Government has become increasingly paternalist (with bans created or looming on public health issues such as sugar; on environmental issues like plastic and ivory; and on activities like social media). Ministers no longer focus on market-based reforms of public services in health or education (many of the interventions made by, for example, Justine Greening on education were completely indistinguishable from those that Gordon Brown and Ed Balls might have made back in their day). The Tories’ commitment to fiscal conservatism remains greater than Labour, but the dividing line is increasingly narrow.

Policies that were once derided when floated by Ed Miliband – such as the energy price cap – are now pushed by the Conservatives. The toughest area of government reductions that can be felt by voters – welfare – is being softened by Amber Rudd and the toughest area of government restriction – immigration – is being softened by Sajid Javid. It is only because Jeremy Corbyn is so extreme (and because all we ever discuss is Brexit) that there remains much distance between the Government and the Opposition. Between TIG and the government? It’s not very obvious.

Let’s take an article written by Chuka Umunna in 2011 in which he makes an appeal for “One Nation Labour” and which includes the two following passages:

“there is no disagreement on the need to address the deficit – despite coalition claims to the contrary. Where the disputed terrain lies is around the speed and depth of reduction and what that means for growth and jobs. “

“What I call “bad capitalism” – unrestrained capital, highly speculative, obsessed with the short term, dismissive of the ties that bind – acts as a barrier to this notion of the good society; whereas “good capitalism” – one that is entrepreneurial and productive with good democratic corporate governance – can smooth the path to a better tomorrow.”

Both of these reflect current government policy.

Now let’s take the Conservative defectors. They themselves sit on the soft left, One Nation wing of the Conservative Party.  All three of the Conservative leavers are critical of grammar schools, and are likely to support a liberal immigration policy. Allen has been a long standing critic of the rollout of welfare reforms. Sarah Wollaston has argued for a long time for much more NHS funding. Soubry is the one who may be most uncomfortable in a centre-left party – she is clearly a supporter of almost everything the Coalition government did, including “austerity”, and she has been an active Conservative for a very long time.

Fundamentally, I don’t think that merging with former Labour members will be a challenge. They will all agree that more money should be spent by the state (including redistribution). They will share a widescale support for state interventionism. There will be mutual antagonism towards some traditional ‘Tory’ policies.

This isn’t a terrible platform for public support (other than on immigration). It’s certainly not very inspiring if, like me, you still feel public services could do with quite a lot of improvement. But its biggest problem is that it won’t be very different from the Conservatives’.

I began this article saying that policy matters. It does – to peoples’ lives and therefore what voters want to know about. The irony seems to me that, actually, the TIG won’t have much new and different to say from the current government (though they might say it in a better way with different sounding people). It is the traditional right, now criticised for driving out Conservatives over Brexit, that has no place in the current domestic policy debate.

Fabio Conti: A plea for Conservative unity in these fractious times – and how we must plan for the challenges of the future

It is rarely Brexit that people raise on the doorstep. It is concerns about the NHS; their local school; the difficulties faced by social care, or the rise in violent crime.

Fabio Conti is a GP in West London and a former Ealing councillor.  He contested Ealing Southall in the 2017 general election.

We are at a moment in which the tone of our national discourse has become so corrosive that, at times, it appears to be wearing through the very fabric that holds our nation together. The febrile nature of political debate, especially on social media, hasn’t been helped by the choice of language by some of our MPs, who have at times appeared to use increasing hyperbole in order to further their own agenda. There is division at every level of society – from within political parties to within families. This raises the question of how our nation can be brought together once we move beyond this chapter in our collective history.

Looking at our own Party, we’ve seen MPs, members and supporters express everything, during recent months, from unhappiness to despair at what others in the Party are saying and doing. People from all parts of it are feeling frustrated – and, at times, intolerant about the actions of others. It seems that we are often forgetting the common thread of values that unite all of us: opportunity; believing that not just government but people should be given the power to make decisions about their own lives; free enterprise and sound money, and the belief that if you work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to get on in life. As we encounter some of the most testing times in our Party’s history, we should remember the values we share, and realise there is often more that binds us together than draws us apart.

At this challenging time, it is vital that members who feel disillusioned with the Party do not turn their backs on it. We need to debate ideas, and work together to renew and define ourselves beyond Brexit with a positive vision for the future of our country, rooted in our uniting common values.

If we do not, the appealing proposition to a weary electorate of Jeremy Corbyn’s easy answers to complex challenges will hand him the keys to Number Ten whenever the next election comes. It is our duty to prevent what this would inflict on our country from happening.

When speaking to people on the doorstep, or talking to colleagues or friends, it is rarely Brexit that people raise. It is concerns about the NHS; their local school; the difficulties faced by social care, or the rise in violent crime. Additionally, there are too many people in our country who feel that they have been left behind. For some, this may have been a driving force to voting Leave in 2016. Looking beyond Brexit, we need to tackle the barriers of poor mental health, generational unemployment and inequality of opportunity. When in our country today just five elite schools send more pupils to Oxbridge than two-thirds of all state secondaries, and one in four prisoners and 70 per cent of sex workers grew up in care, it shows that we have a lot work to do to improve life chances and unlock opportunity for all.

Tacking these issues could be the uniting mission that can help bring our party and the country back together. We need to set our country on a new course, healing the divisions of the last few years – and move on to dealing with the big domestic issues of our day.

“Minister, you must be in the story”

Mordaunt, Rudd and Hancock offer three examples in today’s papers of how British politics work now.

If you are not “in the stor”y, you’re not doing your job.  This is a fact of modern political life, and today’s papers offer three examples – variously displaying the futility, dangers, opportunities and necessities of so doing.

Example One comes from the Sunday Telegraph, which is now free, after a courtroom struggle, to report a medley of disgusting stories about Philip Green.  Penny Mordaunt must be in the story – she is Equalities Minister, after all – and take a view on non-disclosure agreements.

Frankly, she has little to say of any import. “The UK government will launch a consultation to hear from those affected and understand whether there should be more limitations on confidentiality clauses so that workers cannot be intimidated into silence and to find out what needs to be done to ensure that workers are clear about their rights.”  One can almost hear the groaning of Government lawyers as they square up to the task to seeking to define in law when workers do and don’t sign non-disclosure agreements of their own free will.

Example Two also comes from the Sunday Telegraph.  Up pops a piece from Amber Rudd about company directors who plunder their companies’ pensions funds.  The article is shy, indeed silent, about context, but this site notes that in 2017 Green came to a settlement with the Pensions Regulator under which he paid £363 million to aid the BHS pension scheme.

The Work and Pensions Secretary is at least proposing concrete measures.  “I am going to make ‘wilful or reckless behaviour’ relating to a pension scheme a criminal offence, with jail terms of up to seven years for the worst offenders,” she writes.  “We’ll also give the courts powers to levy unlimited – yes unlimited – fines.”  It isn’t clear how she has reached this decision, what caused it, what wider effects if any on pension fund such legislation might have, when it will introduced and whether it could pass this no-majority Commons.

Finally, we have example three from the Sun on Sunday.  Matt Hancock is at the eye of a kind of media Storm Erik.  The social media giants are huge, vastly-used and distrusted – all at once.  Not so long ago, the immediate cause of alarm was child pornography.  Then (and still), content from terrorists.  Now there is a spate of alarm over self-harm material and tragic teenage suicides.

The Health Secretary has threatened legislation, but must know the nightmares it would pose in this essentially hung Parliament, and the potential consequences for the Government if new laws went wrong.  It would be tricky to write laws that distinguish between content that promotes self-harm, seeks to explain the phenomenon, and tries to curb it.  No wonder, in his interview, he seeks a voluntary approach – “a handpicked cyber-squad to oversee the removal of self-harm pictures from Instagram”.

Of our three examples, Hancock’s is the most challenging, public-facing and sensitive, at least in terms of pure politics.  It is part of a wider story of a gradual shift in healthcare provision from physical to mental health, and the tech-savvy Health Secretary is striving to produce a policy response to a culture change that will work.

Rudd’s poses a lot of questions – there is a trade-off between a populist crackdown on unscrupulous directors and invoking the law of unexpected consequences – while Mordaunt’s is almost content-free.

But all three are faced with Ministers’ Dilemma.  Think calmly, move carefully, pause before acting – and you risk being labelled “out of touch”.  Rush in, take snap decisions, get in the story, and all you may achieve is bad decisions that will catch up with someone else later (if you’re lucky) or you sooner (if you’re not).

A run of cocked-up initiatives, and even plain bad luck, and the two Adjectives Of Death will be attached to you: “embattled” and, worse, “beleaguered”.  The media will haul you, Grayling-like, to the stocks.  This morning, our three ministers will be crossing their fingers.

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Lee Rowley: Brexit is big. But our politics is bigger – and I say that as a committed Leaver. Here are some ideas to boost it.

Remainers and Brexiteers alike must recognise the politicians are stuck in an ever-decreasing circle of fervour, hyperbole and hysteria.

Lee Rowley is MP for North East Derbyshire, and Co-Chair of FREER.

Brexit, Brexit, Brexit.  Has there ever been a time when one subject so overwhelmed the political debate in our country?  Where one political Death Star loomed over every facet of public policy to the point where, at least for the political class, nothing else appears to matter?

The last few months have felt as though we’ve entered some shadow realm where our relationship with Europe has obliterated UK politics.  Brexit gnaws away at the most reasonable people, engulfs even the most tangential subjects and saps the life out of even the most joyful of conversations – and I say this as a committed Brexiteer.  Even Christmas was not immune.  MPs were told to use the festive period to reconsider the Prime Minister’s deal as if an over-indulgence of mince pies and sherry would result in a sudden epiphany that it was, somehow, acceptable after all.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I have as strong a view on Brexit as the next person (perhaps even more so than many!).  Yet Remainers and Brexiteers alike must recognise the politicians are stuck in an ever-decreasing circle of fervour, hyperbole and hysteria.  And all the while, those outside the bubble tire of the indulgence of the political class.  The people made a decision two and a half years ago.  And they are bored of politicians trying to frustrate it.

The people are completely right – and for two reasons.  First, because we’ve got to honour the referendum result.  Second, and just as importantly, they are right because we’ve got to move on.  As a Party, there is so much that we have to do and, relatively, so little time to do it.  Not just the day-to-day responsibility of government, which needs continuous attention, but also because we’ve also got properly to wrestle with the underlying bigger issues which are going to determine whether we continue in government, whether we have the right answers to future challenges and whether, crucially, we can defeat the resurrected zombie of 1980s socialism.

So as the meaningful vote debate gets underway again, here is an article that doesn’t primarily focus on the EU for a change.  And here are six big issues that need our urgent attention when we, finally, move on from Brexit.

First, we’ve got to accept that there is a massive change coming in the way we live, work and play through technology – and that needs better thought and consideration than we’ve managed to date.  Mark Wallace was absolutely right a few days ago when he talked about the need to embrace technology and the good that it can bring for society.  Yet, more importantly, that change is coming anyway – and it is an abdication of responsibility if we don’t engage properly.  A recent report suggested that in the next 20 years, seven million jobs will be lost – one in every five in the country.  If the UK gets its act together, a similar number (or even more) could be created.  But we need to think it through.  And most people in Westminster still don’t even know what machine learning is.

Second, we’ve got to stop banning things.  As Conservatives, we have a guilty pleasure for paternalism; our inner restraints occasionally loosen as we believe people need to be saved from themselves.  We know we shouldn’t, but we do.  Yet, that isn’t what our mission is about.  Freedom is what sets us apart from the socialism – and that includes the freedom to make mistakes as well as take opportunities.  If, as a party, we really believe in this principle then we have to have the hard conversations with the country about why government can’t do everything, not just bask in a warm glow of where it can.  If we don’t make a clearer case about our belief in people, then we become a pale pastiche of Labour.  And, for those who believe that people over-indulge too much on sugary treats already, why would people choose the Diet Coke version of nannying government when they can have the full fat one from Jeremy Corbyn?

Third, we’ve got to stop the money arms race with Labour on public services.  As a Conservative, I believe in strong public services which help people up, support them when they need and make our country safer and secure.  You need money to do that.  But it isn’t an end in itself.  Spending an arbitrary number on education or increasing the health budget by a similarly arbitrary figure focusing on the wrong thing.  Corbyn is the one fixated on inputs and processes.  We should care only about the transformation money can bring and the outcomes it delivers.  Stop talking in billions.  Start talking about what we want to do and what we want to achieve by when.  How to raise the number of children getting world class education.  How to improve cancer outcomes.  How to connect people in the north by rail.  Focus the debate on outcomes or we will lose.

Fourth, we are going to have to have a proper discussion about what we want government to do in the future.  Demographic change, increasing demand and increasing complexity in health and social care are all going to strain public budgets in the coming decades.  Some assessments suggest the NHS is going to need another £50 billion.  The ONS thinks that there will be another eight million people over 65 in the UK in 50 years’ time.  It’s fantastic news that we are living longer but it also requires us to seriously reform our public services to avoid us becoming a national care home with a country attached to it.  People have a right to expect their government to come up with solutions and to be able to pay for it.  We need a clearer conversation with the public and a strong reforming mission as we renew in Government in the run-up to 2022.

Fifth, we are going to have to work out how we restore democracy.  Quite simply, the way in which we approach decision-making is stuck in the 1990s.  Political manifestoes declare lofty ambitions once every five years and then politicians disappear off to squabble about them.  We are awash in national and local consultations perpetuating a thin veneer of public involvement, followed usually by politicians doing whatever they want anyway.  A hundred years ago, politics was the practice of educated people taking decisions for the uneducated.  Absolutely rightly, no longer.  Today, politics should be a continuous process of discussion, debate and interaction with everyone – where that interaction matters.  And it will need to be a more local conversation than before which, by default, means accepting that services will be delivered differently in different places.  Democracy is fragile.  And we need to renew it.

Finally, we are going to have to learn how to “deliver” in government.  Another little commented national scandal is the continuing inability, across all parties, of government to function.  Carillion showed the limits of poorly structured services – not because private enterprise doesn’t work (far from it) but because it wasn’t set up properly.  Sitting on the Public Accounts Committee every week, I hear horror stories of billions lost through poor Government administration and projects, both public and private.  And the Civil Service leadership glides effortlessly through whatever screw-ups occur, no matter what.  Real reform of government requires proper leadership, a proper understanding of change management and deliverers who are actually held to account.  We aren’t even trying at the moment.

So, yes, Brexit is big.  But other things are bigger.  Taken together, these are the issues which will transcend individual portfolios and departments; the quiet problems which will monster us if we start thinking about them too late.  So, this week, as Brexit again sucks all the oxygen out of the room, remember this: we are essentially fighting over a foreign policy pivot and a future trading relationship.  Vast and existential they certainly are.  Yet at some point the Brexit fog will lift.  And, if we haven’t started to consider the underlying bigger challenges we face, then our party will be caught wanting.  More importantly, our country will be poorer.  And that’s a much bigger problem than whether flights will take off on 30th March (spoiler alert: they will).  Time to broaden our conversation.

May must ensure that increases in NHS spending are tied to outcomes

It’s a politically sensitive subject and the Government has a lot on its plate, but the Treasury is right to be concerned with ensuring value for money.

Today’s Financial Times reports that a new row is brewing between numbers Ten and Eleven Downing Street over Theresa May’s plans for extra NHS spending.

According to the paper, the Treasury is worried that the Prime Minister is pushing ahead with a £20 billion ‘reform’ plan which doesn’t actually secure adequate commitments to deliver savings and value for money.

Others have accused May of ‘displacement activity’, or needlessly dividing the Government’s focus in the crucial weeks before Britain’s departure from the European Union. But the Treasury complaint deserves scrutiny, because it illustrates the unhappy state of the will to healthcare reform in today’s Conservative Party.

Thanks in no small part to Dominic Cummings, who made NHS spending a central focus of the Leave campaign, there is now a consensus in favour of more of it which spans the Tories from the traditionally pro-NHS left to the usually reform-minded, but currently Brexit-focused, right.

By contrast, there is nobody talking seriously about major reforms to how the Health Service operates. Even Liz Truss, busily staking her claim to the mantle of the Cabinet’s most enthusiastic free-market reformer, hasn’t unveiled a plan for the NHS.

Perhaps this ought not to surprise us. Enthusiasm for healthcare reform historically comes in cycles, with the likes of Ken Clarke, Alan Milburn, and Andrew Lansley interspersed amongst Secretaries of State who take a more managerial approach. Jeremy Hunt, despite is high-profile clash with the doctors’ union, was one of the latter.

There are several reasons good reasons why Conservatives might be cautious of any ambitious programme for the NHS. Taking a bold stance on social care, which is subject to very similar pressures, arguably cost the Party its first comfortable majority in thirty years. Likewise the ill-fated Lansley reforms are still fresh in the memory and scarcely likely to motivate people to dip their toe in that particular pool.

Another factor, in light of a looming leadership election and the prospect of an election before 2022, is that Conservative members and voters alike are older than the average citizen, and likely to be unenthusiastic about disruption to health or social care.

Despite this, however, the Treasury’s concerns still need answering. ‘Spending more money’ is not an adequate substitute for an actual policy agenda, at least on the right, and passing the buck for serious reform to the next political generation will only make that reform much more difficult – and possibly painful – when its time comes.

How To Get The Best Out Of Green Juice

The fact that there are some health benefits that you can derive from green juice is no longer a matter of contention. There are cases of obesity around us today. Everywhere you go, if you are a keen observer, you will readily see people struggling with the excess mass of weight that has been forced […]

The fact that there are some health benefits that you can derive from green juice is no longer a matter of contention. There are cases of obesity around us today. Everywhere you go, if you are a keen observer, you will readily see people struggling with the excess mass of weight that has been forced on them. Everybody wants to maintain a trim figure; this can be achieved without hitting the gym. It is true that you can achieve this without having to partake in that strenuous, energy-sapping exercise regime. People have been asking the question: why organifi? We shall be making the attempt to answer that question in a way that will throw light into the matter.

If you really want to lose weight and get your health back, then you have to look in the direction of this supplement. What is required from you is a consistent mindset and the ability to go by the rules. These rules are not that difficult to keep; we have broken them down into three easy to follow steps. Anyone can make the best out of it; and at the end of it all, you will win the battle against obesity. Here we go:

Step 1: Start Your Day On The Right Footing

The first step that you take in the morning after getting out of bed matters a lot, if you want to achieve the expected results that count. After you get out of your bed in the morning, you are in fasting mode. You probably have not tasted anything for the past 6-10 hrs; coming out of bed, you need to break your fast first thing.

This is where the majority get it wrong. If you follow the expert tips here; then you would have taken the most important step in the day which is very instrumental to your success. Your first step in the morning should be hydration. You are strongly advised to kick-start the day with a warm glass of lemon water. The target is to boost your metabolism. That done, your digestion will be kick-started in the small intestine, it will also go further to cleanse your cells and hydrate your body. There is a good dose of vitamin C which you need to maintain a good health for the day.

This first step is the foundation that you will need; you are going to build on it. If you follow the tips above, then you have laid for yourself a solid foundation that you can build upon in your attempt to get the best benefits from Green Juice.

Step 2: Juicing Is Next

The next step that you are expected to take after the early morning lemon water is to go for a green juice. You can pick your base from anything from cucumber or celery as it suits your taste. You can now add some greens to it in the likes of kale. Most people detest the taste of greens in the mouth, so you can spice it up or sweeten it by adding no more than half an apple. Go on to add some lemon ginger to further aid the digestion properly.

This should be your pattern every morning from step one to two if you want the best of results. Do not fall into the temptation of going contrary to the tips advised above. You can never drink too much green juice. Drink at least 16 oz, you can go as far as 32 oz if you so desired. There is no harm in drinking several green juices spread across one day. Ensure that your other meal is colorful full of greens, veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds.

Step 3: Automate Your Juicing Schedule

Let us now go on to the final stage in answer to the question: why organifi. The target is to get the best benefits out of the green. Having followed the steps that we have advised so far, we are now at the last step which is very critical if the gains that we have spoken about or heard about this supplement are to be fully realized.

For those that belong to the working class who have a very busy schedule, it will be pretty easy for them to overlook the steps that we have advised so far because of the pressure or work that they have to battle within their respective places of business endeavors. If there is a will, there will be a way out. If you truly desire to get the best benefits from the green, then you are expected to prepare yourself adequately well.

That goodness for the alarm that comes with watch devices. Do not leave anything to chances; you may likely forget to follow the routine when you are engrossed in your schedule if there is no system that will remind you when you are expected to take actions. You are strongly advised to set multiple alarms on your phone to remind you when it is time to take actions.

Never make the mistake of waiting until you are starving before you take appropriate actions. You are expected to stick with your schedule if you want the gains to count. Wait for the timer and follow its prompting every day of the week. In no time, you will realize that your body will adjust to the new routine in a perfect answer to the question: why organifi.

Ensure that you drink your juices according to the alarm and also eat your meals in obedience to the sound of the timer. Do not do that at other times but exactly when the timer goes off. That way you will be a winner. In no time, your body will get used to the new healthy schedule. Your system will start craving green juices and nourishing foods at a time that will give you the best benefits.

If you follow the above steps; then your weight loss goal will be effectively maximized.