I mentioned in a recent blog post that I am generally reluctant to sign Written Declarations in the parliament. They usually call for new action “at the European level”; they raise unrealistic expectations, and they mostly achieve very little. So you can well imagine that I was not best impressed to receive a series of spam e-mails urging MEPs to sign a WD calling for a European Obesity Day.
Of course I recognise that the obesity problem has a public health aspect, and that the financial consequences of obesity typically become a charge on the public purse. So I have no problem if national health authorities offer slimming advice, or even treatment, to those who ask for it. But this is an area of personal lifestyle choices. It is a matter of individual liberty, and the State should tread circumspectly, or not at all, in such areas.
So we don’t need the Nanny State, strident and hectoring, telling us what and how much we can eat. And surely it is enough that the European Institutions live off the fat of the land, without their fulminating against the Fat of France, or the Epicures of England, the Gourmands of Greece or the Bellies of Brussels. After all the deep-fried Mars Bar is a Scottish cultural icon, worthy of protection alongside Parma Ham and Stilton Cheese.
So eventually I was moved to respond to these e-mails, although, aware of concerns in the parliament about spam, I replied only to the Originator, not to everyone. And in an attempt at gentle irony, I wrote: “Great idea! And how about a European In-Growing Toe-Nails Day? Or a European day of Dandruff Prevention?” And in a po-faced response, the guy replied (to all in the parliament, not just to me) “Well we’ll see if anyone else finds this funny”. I was delighted. My attempt at humour reached the widest audience, without my attracting the opprobrium for spamming.
And a number of recipients did indeed find it funny. The debate was best summed up by one respondent, who wrote: “Fat lot of good that’ll do!”.