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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:33 am 
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The meat scandal shows all that is rotten about our free marketeers

This is a crisis not only for environment secretary, Owen Paterson, but for the whole Conservative party

The collapse of a belief system paralyses and terrifies in equal measure. Certainties are exploded. A reliable compass for action suddenly becomes inoperable. Everything you once thought solid vaporises.

Owen Paterson, secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, is living through such a nightmare and is utterly lost. All his once confident beliefs are being shredded. As the horsemeat saga unfolds, it becomes more obvious by the day that those Thatcherite verities – that the market is unalloyed magic, that business must always be unshackled from "wealth-destroying" regulation, that the state must be shrunk, that the EU is a needless collectivist project from which Britain must urgently declare independence – are wrong.

Indeed, to save his career and his party's sinking reputation, he has to reverse his position on every one. The only question is whether he is sufficiently adroit to make the change.

Paterson is one of the Tories who joyfully shared the scorched earth months of the summer of 2010 when war was declared on quangos and the bloated, as they saw it, "Brownian" state. The Food Standards Agency was a natural candidate for dismemberment. Of course an integrated agency inspecting, advising and enforcing food safety and hygiene should be broken up. As an effective regulator, it was disliked by "wealth-generating" supermarkets and food companies. Its 1,700 inspectors were agents of the state terrifying honest-to-God entrepreneurs with unannounced spot checks and enforced "gold-plated" food labelling. Regulation should be "light touch".

No Tory would say that now, not even Paterson, one of the less sharp knives in the political drawer. He runs the ministry that took over the FSA's inspecting function at the same time as it was reeling from massive budget cuts, which he also joyfully cheered on. He finds himself with no answer to the charge that his hollowed-out department, a gutted FSA with 800 fewer inspectors and eviscerated local government were and are incapable of ensuring public health.

Paterson, beneath the ideological bluster, is as innocent about business as Bambi. Even the most callow observer could predict that with the wholesale slaughter of horses across the continent as recession hit the racing industry – horsemeat production jumped by 52% in 2012 – some was bound to enter the pan-European network of abattoirs, just-in-time buying, industrial refrigeration units, food brokers and giant supermarkets that deliver British and European consumers their food.

Meanwhile, the budgets of some local government food sampling units have been slashed by 70%. A Tesco beef burger containing 29% horsemeat was an accident waiting to happen. Of course it was the Food Safety Authority of Ireland rather than the FSA that blew the whistle. Businesses owned by footloose "tourist" shareholders whose sole purpose is profit maximisation in transactional markets have an embedded propensity to degrade. Consumers and suppliers alike become no more than anonymised numbers to be exploited to hit the next quarter's profit target.

The large supermarkets have said little or nothing, which Number 10 deplores. There is nothing they can say. They have lobbied for the world in which we now live. An alternative world – in which consumers were genuinely served and where it is understood that suppliers need adequate profit margins in the supermarkets' interests as much as the suppliers' own – has to be created by stakeholders, including by government. There is a codependency between state, society, business and business supply chains, anathema to Paterson with his undeviating obeisance to the virtues of a "private sector" free from such "burdens".

What the Paterson worldview has never understood is that effective regulation is a source of competitive advantage. If Britain had a tough Food Standards Agency, it would become a gold standard for food quality, labelling and hygiene. British supermarkets and food companies could become known for their quality at home and abroad, rather as "over-regulated" German car companies are, rather than first suspects when something dodgy is going on. Capitalism does not organise itself to deliver best outcomes, whatever rightwing American thinktanks might claim. There has to be careful thought, law and regulation about the obligations that accompany incorporation and ownership, how supply chains are organised and how companies are managed and financed. Otherwise disaster awaits.

And there are other bitter implications for Paterson. Geography means that Britain is inevitably part of the European food supply chain. Our efforts at better regulation – and of catching wrongdoers – have to be matched by others for everyone's sake, exactly what the EU was set up to do and is now doing. The hypocrisy of passionate Eurosceptic Owen Paterson flying to the Hague urgently to meet Europol, saying afterwards: "It's increasingly clear the case reaches right across Europe. Europol is the right organisation to co-ordinate efforts to uncover all wrongdoing and bring criminals to justice" and urging all European governments to share information with it, should not be lost on anyone. Europol holds powers from which Eurosceptic Tories, led by Paterson, urgently want an opt-out, but not in the middle of a first-order food safety and hygiene crisis.

That everything Paterson believes in is so wrong is not just a crisis for him – it is a crisis for his party and for Britain's centre-right media whose prejudices makes thinking straight in the Tory party impossible. A great country cannot be governed by politicians whose instincts and policies are at such odds with reality, so betraying the people, economy and society they govern. The horsemeat crisis is not confined to our food chain. It reveals the existential crisis in contemporary Conservatism. British democracy needs a functioning, fit for purpose party of the centre-right.

Instead, it has Owen Paterson and today's Tories.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... rty-crisis

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:49 am 
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So now HMG gets the blame for Rumanian Mafia, Irish meat proccessors and (German) Aldi and Tesco selling dodgy meat, just HOW would you stop it?

you could hold up 2000 artics a day at the docks for a few days to test every joint of meat or pie but something tells me that could cause problems....

its the comsumer demanding cheaper shopping and supermarkets beating prices down that results in sub-standard supplies, not any MP or cabinet minister

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:04 am 
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wannabeeahack wrote:
just HOW would you stop it?



Regulation.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:03 am 
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captain cab wrote:
wannabeeahack wrote:
just HOW would you stop it?



Regulation.


=D> =D> =D> =D>

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:23 am 
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wannabeeahack wrote:
So now HMG gets the blame for Rumanian Mafia, Irish meat proccessors and (German) Aldi and Tesco selling dodgy meat,


No, HMG gets the blame for loosening the regulations and slashing by over 50% the very same inspectors who could have prevented this debacle.
They may not be directly responsible but they, for political reasons, opened the door to those who are.

Quote:
you could hold up 2000 artics a day at the docks for a few days to test every joint of meat or pie but something tells me that could cause problems....

There are other ways which would cause less disruption.

Quote:
its the comsumer demanding cheaper shopping and supermarkets beating prices down that results in sub-standard supplies, not any MP or cabinet minister


That's a cop out. Consumers have always demanded cheaper shopping (which hasn't actually gotten any cheaper under this government BTW) and supermarkets have always squeezed their suppliers.

A few months ago, farmers were in the news crying about Asda selling milk for £1 for 2 litres. It didn't seem to click with them that Asda can only do this because farmers sell it to them that cheap.
They need to grow a set and tell Asda/ Tesco etc what the price is, instead of looking for new ways to cut their own feet and do it cheaper.
A few weeks of supermarkets with no milk and the stuff going down the drain instead of getting sold below cost. Stick together and they could win. Short term loss for long term gain.

Reminds me of the taxi trade. :wink:

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:27 am 
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Are any of these supermarkets going to be prosecuted or paying compensation out for miss labeling food ? Like feck.Another shining example of tory cuts.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:30 am 
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captain cab wrote:
wannabeeahack wrote:
just HOW would you stop it?



Regulation.


RED TAPE you mean

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:31 am 
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gusmac wrote:
wannabeeahack wrote:
So now HMG gets the blame for Rumanian Mafia, Irish meat proccessors and (German) Aldi and Tesco selling dodgy meat,


No, HMG gets the blame for loosening the regulations and slashing by over 50% the very same inspectors who could have prevented this debacle.
They may not be directly responsible but they, for political reasons, opened the door to those who are.

Quote:
you could hold up 2000 artics a day at the docks for a few days to test every joint of meat or pie but something tells me that could cause problems....

There are other ways which would cause less disruption.

Quote:
its the comsumer demanding cheaper shopping and supermarkets beating prices down that results in sub-standard supplies, not any MP or cabinet minister


That's a cop out. Consumers have always demanded cheaper shopping (which hasn't actually gotten any cheaper under this government BTW) and supermarkets have always squeezed their suppliers.

A few months ago, farmers were in the news crying about Asda selling milk for £1 for 2 litres. It didn't seem to click with them that Asda can only do this because farmers sell it to them that cheap.
They need to grow a set and tell Asda/ Tesco etc what the price is, instead of looking for new ways to cut their own feet and do it cheaper.
A few weeks of supermarkets with no milk and the stuff going down the drain instead of getting sold below cost. Stick together and they could win. Short term loss for long term gain.

Reminds me of the taxi trade. :wink:


=D> =D> =D>

A governments first responsibility is to its citizens (or subjects in our case) - the fact that it took a foreign government to uncover this scam - a foreign government which is in a far worse financial predicament than our own - is a national disgrace.

I'm not too sure about blaming Jonny Foreigner about the food scandal - because to my knowledge Yorkshire and Wales seem to be geographically located within the UK.

At the moment we have politicians blaming supermarkets - supermarkets blaming suppliers - suppliers blaming Abattoirs - the reality is it is the governments fault - as Gus has pointed out above.

The supermarkets and big business cry out for less red tape - light touch self regulation - this is what happens - you eat horses.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:31 am 
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edders23 wrote:
captain cab wrote:
wannabeeahack wrote:
just HOW would you stop it?



Regulation.


RED TAPE you mean


The alternative is plain to see.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:33 am 
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edders23 wrote:

RED TAPE you mean


You know what - if red tape means I'm not eating horses - well I'll go with that.

If red tape means my daughter is taken home by a vetted taxi driver - I'll go with that.

What business calls red tape - some people call standards and regulation.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:35 am 
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captain cab wrote:
edders23 wrote:

RED TAPE you mean


You know what - if red tape means I'm not eating horses - well I'll go with that.

If red tape means my daughter is taken home by a vetted taxi driver - I'll go with that.

What business calls red tape - some people call standards and regulation.


=D> =D> =D> =D>

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:41 am 
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Unfortunately Britain has become one of the laxest countries in the world for border control

We are the softest touch in Europe when it comes to

1) Preventing illegal contraband entering our borders
2) Preventing foreign companies from plundering the UK market and paying no tax
3) preventing illegal immigration
4) protecting UK business from asset stripping by foreign companies
5) making sure companies and businesses don't rip off their customers

You name it we are the worst in Europe at everything

Why because we spend most of our taxes on benefits and trying to police the world so can't afford to actually regulate and control our own borders

Rant over !!!!!

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:51 am 
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edders23 wrote:
Unfortunately Britain has become one of the laxest countries in the world for border control

We are the softest touch in Europe when it comes to

1) Preventing illegal contraband entering our borders
2) Preventing foreign companies from plundering the UK market and paying no tax
3) preventing illegal immigration
4) protecting UK business from asset stripping by foreign companies
5) making sure companies and businesses don't rip off their customers

You name it we are the worst in Europe at everything

Why because we spend most of our taxes on benefits and trying to police the world so can't afford to actually regulate and control our own borders

Rant over !!!!!


are you suggesting we add illegal immigrants to our diet?

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:19 pm 
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Incidentally the government are still at it with their rad tape challenge folly, the following is on their website regarding health and safety;

General health and safety in the workplace

These regulations are designed to prevent death, injury and ill-health in the workplace including carrying out risk assessments and reporting major injuries.

You can find all 51 regulations that relate to general health and safety in the workplace here [opens in new window].

You can find all the regulations that relate to General health and safety in the workplace below to the left.

Tell us what you think should happen to these regulations and why, being specific where possible:
•Should we scrap them altogether?
•Could their purpose be achieved in a non-regulatory way (eg through a voluntary code?) How?
•Could they be reformed, simplified or merged? How?
•Can we reduce their bureaucracy through better implementation? How?
•Can we make their enforcement less burdensome? How?
•Should they be left as they are?

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:13 pm 
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blackpool wrote:
Are any of these supermarkets going to be prosecuted or paying compensation out for miss labeling food ? Like feck.Another shining example of tory cuts.

I suppose it depends if the food has actually been miss labled.
Just what % of a beef pie has to be beef?
What if it is a "meat" pie?
What are the guidelines for the "filler" in some of these products?
Does a steak pie have to be beef steak?
How much pork is in a melton mowbray pork pie? There has to be a minimum of 12.5% pork but you could have 12.5% bird or rabbit as well and 12.5% other meat. This other meat could be anything.
Things are never as clear cut as they seem.

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