Wednesday, March 30, 2005

"School meals, school meals and school meals"

That was what Tony Blair really meant when he was shouting "Education, education and education" in those heady days way back in 1997 when "Things can only get better".

Eight years and a TV series later, Jamie Oliver has managed the impossible and twisted Gordon's arm to make available £280m from a (now) larger budget deficit to improve school dinners. That's a great idea, throw money at a problem, and it will go away until after the election, better still, create a quango, "The School Foods Trust" costing £60m and that's one more troublesome problem solved until after the election. What the quango will achieve is anyone's guess, cost benefit analysis? Bah humbug..

Maybe I'm just a little too cynical but in much the same way that most increased funding in education and the NHS has been "invested" in higher salaries, what's to stop food suppliers just increasing food prices to local schools? Local suppliers now know that food budgets have been swelled and will want their share of the bigger cake too. Those increased oil prices need to be passed on you know. Lower prices could also be the result of better negotiations whilst higher prices could be the result of weak negotiation.

However, it was bad news for the Liberal Democrats as Jamie Oliver, wishing to raise school dinners above mere party politics, will be seeing Michael Howard on Thursday in case (1% chance!?!) the Conservatives win the election. I don't believe any such meeting has been arranged with Charles Kennedy yet, sorry Charlie!!

The Conservatives have already endorsed the increased spending caused by Jamie Oliver. I just wonder why the general public is again expected to pick up the tab, why can't parents be expected to pay for their childrens meals? It seems a far more equitable solution to me.

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