In defence of Eric Pickles
It’s a guest post today and with a title that needs no introduction. So without further ado courtesy of a guest poster, ‘In defence of Eric Pickles’:
There, that got your attention. It’s not completely true, as in, we’ll be defending some other people as well.
I am troubled by the constant references to Mr Pickles’ girth. Whether it is Nick Clegg saying that Eric Pickles is the only cabinet minister who can be seen on Google Earth or Greg Clark talking about the heavyweight presence that Local Government has at the Cabinet table, people enjoy a laugh at him, and at John Prescott before him. This Billy Bunter style humour is unhelpful at best and possibly destructive, being redolent of Form 4B on a Tuesday afternoon.
People might say that he will laugh it off, and it is a bit of a joke and not serious, and he should develop a thick skin. As a fattie in my younger days, I can tell you that it isn’t a joke, he shouldn’t have to laugh it off and why should he develop a thick skin. It is unpleasant to know that when you wake up in the morning, you know what will happen. Fattism seems to be the acceptable face of bullying in public life. I wonder how long it might be before this gets referred to the Equality and Human Rights Commission?
And whilst this is an issue for Mr Pickles and Lord Prescott, this distracts attention from the impending obesity crisis that we are facing. Whilst we maintain an adolescent and puerile approach to obesity, we won’t get anywhere near sorting it out as a major public health issue. The reasons that people are overweight are many and complex, much as those reasons as to why people are underweight and malnourished. Understanding those reasons and looking to address them rather than resorting to fattie jokes surely has to be the best way.
Building decent sized kitchens would be a good start as well as ensuring that people can access good quality and reasonably priced food and have the ability to store it and the confidence to cook it. The reasons are many and complex and are not just about eating too much chocolate, although this might have something to do with it for some people. Judging less and understanding more would be a good place to start.
So Mr Pickles, there are many things that I might not agree with you on, as with Lord Prescott. However, I will defend you against the jibes about your weight as this is unfair and you do not deserve it. The issues on this are far too serious for us to trivialise them in this way.
Welovelocalgovernment is a blog written by UK local government officers. If you have a piece you’d like to submit or any comments you’d like to make please drop us a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org