In which we come over all regal and medieval


It was never quite true that if a medieval king or ruler felt that the quality of the advice he was receiving was slipping a bit, that then there would be a nice bloody purge of said advisers in order to buck up the quality of policy on offer from those who remained. Britain, certainly, never had quite such absolutism, something for which of course we should all be grateful. But there are times, even in this modern era, when such a policy seems most attractive:

He said EU regulations are the “single biggest impact on our business”. The EU is unleashing Europe’s beet farmers in 2017 by removing a production cap, in a move that is expected to push down prices 15pc by 2020. Farmers will be subsidised to counteract this drop, while cane sugar imports continue to face tariffs of up to €339 (£246) per tonne.

Leave aside the bleatings of the business affected by these rules. And savour instead the absurdity of them.

There's poor people out there, poor people who would be delighted to sell us the sugar we desire at a price we'd be delighted to pay. So, instead of raising both our and their quality of life we tax what they would sell us. Then there's the very much richer farmers of Europe, who do not wish to produce sugar for us to consume at any price that we wish to pay. So, we subsidise them to do so. And bringing up the rear is the lamentable Action on Sugar who are insisting that the whole sector should groan under yet another layer of taxes to prevent us eating what we subsidise the production of.

It is obviously true that waving a broadsword through the apparatchicki of an entire continent is not a liberal proposal. But boy, oh boy, is it still a tempting one. This is of course Kip Esquire's Law, that if there were some rationalisation of the world, some attempt at planning, then we'd be the people getting to do said rationalising and planning rather than someone else doing it in a manner we might not appreciate so much. So back to the boring old, and markedly more liberal, ideas of persuasion, democratic politics and simple exposition of the absurd state of modern affairs.

We are subsidising the rich to produce something, we are taxing the poor who would provide us with that same thing and this is simply a nonsense. We should stop doing both.

Please, and our having asked nicely doesn't mean we don't enjoy the idea of getting a bit more regal and medieval about it all.