Alan Dee: Fat tax idea won’t butter my parsnips

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I BLAME my dear mother, but I do love a bit of butter.

Toast, in my book, is chiefly a delivery vehicle for large quantities of mouthwateringly melted butter.

When new potatoes come into reason, I rejoice and reach for another 250g slab of instant happiness.

And that’s why I am looking askance at those pesky Danes for their latest bright idea – a fat tax that will hike up the prices of foods which are reckoned to add to our waistlines.

It’s a bit rich that a country best known for feeding the rest of the world with dairy products, bacon, pastries and beer – and which has much less of a porker-sized population problem than many neighbours – should be sticking in the thin end of the wedge in this way.

But one thing’s for sure, they won’t be the last to try this route to increasing tax revenue.

France has already announced that there will be more to pay on fizzy drinks as they try to stem a growing problem of child obesity, and David Cameron, a man never known to miss the opportunity to leap onto a passing bandwagon if he thinks there might be a few votes in it, has already voiced his approval.

There’s nothing new in trying to force people to pay more for their guilty pleasures, but it’s usually much more of an open and shut case.

There’s a hefty tax paid on every cigarette puffed, as I’m sure all nicotine addicts know only too well.

Alcohol would be even cheaper if the Chancellor didn’t want a serious chunk of change out of every round, and the cost of motoring would be slashed if 70 per cent of the price of every litre wasn’t being channelled into the public purse.

But butter? Come on, play fair. Heaven knows the price of butter has already rocketed over the last year or two, and all an extra tax is going to achieve is force even more people to switch to dodgy yellow spreads with names which try to convince you they have a deliciously dairy origin but which owe more to a chemist’s ingenuity than a contented cow chewing the cud.

If there’s a health case to be made for a fat tax, and experts are divided on whether it will do much good – that whopping levy on fags hasn’t exactly stubbed out smoking, has it? – then there are lots of ways in which it could be much more effective.

I’ve got a sneaking support for the fizzy drinks tax idea, to be honest – they come in plastic bottles, which are a problem in themselves, and you can hardly claim they’re a crucial cookery component.

Stick alongside them the sacks of snacks that clutter up every supermarket and I wouldn’t raise a word of complaint.

Then there are all those breakfast cereals which come with ludicrous amounts of extra sugar and even marshmallow pieces – they can’t be healthy, can they?

And what about chips? And burgers? And any other number of processed foods which weigh down so many shopping baskets?

As you’ve probably realised by now, hefty tax hikes on all of the above wouldn’t bother me a bit, because I hardly ever indulge.

But bumping up the price of my butter? Next thing you know, we’ll be back to the ration books...