It was nice to see Geraint Davies, the Labour MP for Swansea West, come out in favour of a tax on sugary drinks in this tweet today:
With obesity soaring, a 20% tax on sugary drinks would cut obesity by 180K and generate £250 million of revenue to subsidise healthy foods.— Geraint Davies MP (@GeraintDaviesMP) June 10, 2014
The reaction was for a number of Plaid Cymru supporters to say that this was Plaid's policy, put forward in our conference in October 2013. But, as I noted at the time in a comment on this post, it was not Plaid that came up with the idea. The policy had been put forward by Sustain, on behalf of over 60 organizations, in January 2013 in a document entitled, A Children's Future Fund: How food duties could provide the money to protect children’s health and the world they grow up in, and Plaid seem to have lifted the policy from them.
People can download the document by clicking the image.
Of course there's nothing wrong with a political party lifting ideas from organizations like this ... although the details will need to be refined. In principle, I think it's a good policy for public health reasons, and therefore one that deserves to be implemented. Even though I'd like the kudos of Wales doing it first, it doesn't really matter whether it's enacted across the UK (or whatever's left of it) by a government at Westminster, or across Wales by a government at Cardiff Bay.
Nor do I really care exactly how the money raised by such a tax is used. Wales does have a shortage of doctors compared with other countries, so Plaid's proposal to hypothecate it to employ a thousand more doctors is fine; but using it to "subsidize healthy foods" might work too.
So let's try and put our tribalism to one side and see if we, Plaid Cymru and Labour, can make it work. The Assembly already has the power to do this as a levy (in the same way as for single-use bags) so we could easily get it through before May 2016 if we put our minds to it without waiting for the Wales Act; but there's no chance of it even being considered in Westminster before May 2015.