On the frontline of the fat and sugar war edition

Your weekly update from Tom Watson MP, deputy leader of the Labour Party. 

If you'd like to receive this direct to your inbox, you can sign up here.


I've been in some scrapes during my time in politics. Yet nothing has prepared me for the savagery of the debate amongst the "professionals" when it comes to examining public health advice on nutrition.

This week I've been preparing a story package for Westminster Hour on the back of a Government consultation on whether the guidelines on the amount of fats we have in our diet should be changed.

When I was withdrawing from sugar last year I found it very useful to increase the amount of fat in my diet to help get me through massive sugar cravings. I just stopped being hungry when I upped the fat. I don't need to do that today, though I certainly have a lot more olive oil in my diet as well as the occasional bulletproof coffee!

I interviewed two people for my package: Dr Aseem Malhotra, leading cardiologist and author of the Pioppi diet, who is fighting the received wisdom on the balance of macronutrients in our diet and believes we'd be far better off reducing the amount of refined sugar and carbohydrates in our diet; and Bridget Benelam of the British Nutrition Federation who was defending the advice given by Public Health England to reduce saturated fat intake. Strangely, PHE declined to take part in the programme, which was frankly ridiculous, bordering on negligent of them.

I was a little sceptical of Bridget's organisation when I saw that Coca-Cola and PepsiCo were members. I look at Coke very differently now I'm 96 pounds lighter. A can of full sugar Coke has no nutritional value. It contains 39 grams of sugar when the recommended daily allowance is 30 grams a day - so it's poisoning the body. If you drink a can a day for a year, you're taking in more than three kilograms of sugar more than the aggregated daily allowance over 12 months. 

Despite my reservations, Bridget did very well. Though I've not heard the final edited version, I'm hoping it puts both sides of the argument and stimulates a debate.

I hope you can listen to the interviews on Radio 4, Westminster Hour tomorrow night (Sunday) at 10pm of, if not, catch it on iPlayer. It's followed by a studio discussion which will be my first since I decided to explore public policy in this area more deeply. 

One thing I already know - there are some powerful vested interests who will fight any public policy changes that reduce refined sugar from our diets and find it far more convenient just to blame saturated fats.

Greening the grass of home

England's young lions are coming home tomorrow (Sunday) after their marvellous achievements at the World Cup. 

I've already spoken of the hopes that this "modern England" team helps develop our cultural and national identity, and that all those England flags flying above Town Halls, workplaces and schools etc, should continue to fly high.

But we need to seize the day at the grassroots level too, by ensuring the football authorities deliver - from the proceeds of the Premier League TV billions - state-of-the-art pitches (like the George Salter Academy in my constituency), the best in coaching and full access to sport for boys and girls.

That would be the best legacy of all.

What a week!


What an extraordinary week it's been on the political front with the Brexit resignations and then the visit of Donald Trump. 

Theresa May's government is in meltdown, our country at a standstill with a divided and shambolic Government.

The Prime Minister can’t deliver Brexit and has zero authority left. Labour under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership stands ready and prepared to take over the reins of government when the Election comes.

Until that moment, it is the responsibility of Labour in opposition to ensure any deal brokered with Europe guarantees our economy, our jobs, our future prosperity, our health service, our manufacturing, our education system and supports our creative and service industries.

What we cannot afford to do is to let the ideological zealots of the Tory far-right - toy soldiers hatched in the classrooms of Eton - march us over the cliff-edge with a no deal Brexit.

Labour will fight to ensure we get the right deal for the UK economy, that workers's rights are protected from a race to the bottom, that our national security is protected and that we have a strong and collaborative UK-EU relationship going forward.

That is what we are fighting for now and that is the national interest. Neither I nor Jeremy will deviate from that fight.

And a reminder...

If anyone needed a reminder about why Paul Dacre will not be missed from our political discourse, this is it...

All Bob wants...


Bob Malcolmson, a former navy sailor who was irradiated in MoD experiments, is now dying from his third type of cancer.

After 60 years of sickness, 400 medical interventions and a long fight for a war pension Bob wants a simple thing - to die with a medal in his hand in recognition of the service he gave his country.

It was pleasing to see Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson met a delegation on Monday from the nuclear test veterans - whose campaign I launched in Parliament. He must give Bob and others the thanks, and the medal, they deserve.

Tunes for a Time Lord

Congratulations to Segun Akinola who's just been announced as Dr Who's new composer,  The BAFTA Breakthrough Brit Award winner's brief will include reworking the show's iconic theme tune.  The original eerie tune with its sinister electronic beat was composed by Ron Gainer.  As a kid, it was always a cue for hiding behind the sofa until the Daleks had gone.  When the theme was changed in 2010, fans reacted furiously, We'll have to wait until the series returns in the Autumn to hear the latest version.

Monsanto in the dock


This week a man whose body is ravaged with cancer became the first person to take the agrochemical company Monsanto to court claiming it is likely that weedkiller Roundup - containing glyphosate - caused his terminal disease.

Former school pest control manager DeWayne Johnson argues years of spraying the herbicide from a 50-gallon tank resulted in his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. When a hose broke once it soaked his entire body.

Monsanto stands accused of bullying scientists and suppressing evidence of the cancer risks associated with its weedkiller which generates revenue of $4.8 billion a year.

From memory, I think 8 billion kilograms glyphosate have been used on the earth’s land. It’s the most used weed killer in history.

DeWayne's lawyer says: “Whatever happens his sons will get to know that their dad was brave enough to go up against Monsanto completely alone, and first, before he died.”

If he wins, DeWayne's courage in facing down a global corporate giant may help save many, many lives around the world.

Watch this space.

Theresa May's fatal trinity


It was supposed to be a new, shiny, £750m state-of-the-art hospital serving hundreds of thousands across Birmingham, Sandwell and the wider Black Country.

Instead the Midland Metropolitan Hospital is a half-finished building site, abandoned by ministers in the wake of Carillion's collapse, lying hopelessly open to the elements.

Pleas for the extra £125m to finish the job fall on the deafest and cruellest of ears, and the £25m bill to repair "weather damage" grows daily.

Meanwhile the sick, including many of my constituents, once again suffer at the hands of the wretched Tories.

It's a shameful folly to austerity, privatisation and incompetence - the fatal trinity at the heart of Theresa May's government.

Our marvels

Fabulous insight here into the ex-gamers and the visual effects wizards who are the unsung heroes of the Marvel movies. We have world-beating creatives in the UK powering our digital economy - and we should celebrate them more.

Hancock's e-fail


Despite having an economy that is 80% service-based, we have slower broadband than Slovakia, Bulgaria and Madagascar.

We're heading for Brexit having actually managed to drop four places in the global league tables. The Tories, with Matt Hancock in charge of digital, delivered a slow road to nowhere instead of a broadband superhighway.

Here’s hoping as health secretary he spends less time on his app and more time defending the NHS.

Remembering Srebrenica

Friday marked the 23rd anniversary of the worst atrocity on European soil since World War Two when over 8,000 men and boys were murdered at Srebrenica just because of their faith.

By signing the Remembering Srebrenica Book of Pledges, I joined many others across the globe promising to stand up to hatred and intolerance and promote a fair, equal and cohesive society for everyone.

Linking with Mickey

There was a broken url link in the piece last week about my pal Mickey Conroy taking part in the British 10k tomorrow.  Mickey's raising money for the Nia project which delivers cutting edge services to end violence against women and children.  Please support Mickey if you can here.