August 8, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Right, what’s going on here then? Lots of embarassment.

Firstly, Health Minister Anne Milton does her job of looking for savings by writing to Shona Robinson in Scotland that it was an “ineffective universal measure”. Noting that the media, parents, nurseries, childminders and the dairy sector would all wave their arms in the air shouldn’t stop a discussion on cutting it – she wanted a consultation and she made clear her preference for taking action  on the £59m bill.

So far, so predictably leak material. And so it proved.

David Cameron then intervened and hung David Willetts out to dry like a good’un live on television by saying that it wasn’t an option.

So, whats all the fuss about something introduced in 1940 to help protect pregnant women and the young against wartime shortages? It’s simply media hype in the silly season when Parliament is closed and there aren’t any stories.

School milk has been withdrawn from schools in three phases:

  • Removal from secondary schools: Late sixties, under a Labour Government. First and largest scale withdrawal. PM: Wilson, Ed. Sec. Walker.
  • Removal from 7-11 year olds. Early seventies, under a Conservative Government. Heath wanted complete withdrawal but was stopped by Education Secretary Margaret Thatcher. PM: Heath, Ed. Sec: Thatcher.
  • Final removal from schools. Late seventies, under a Labour Government. PM: Callaghan, Ed. Sec: Williams.

So the BBC narrative (and Sky too – they are just as guilty of reproducing the same Labour press release) about it being the eeeeeeevil Tories is just wrong.

Basically introduced as a subsidy for the dairy industry and a way to torture young children with a foul liquid they would be put off of for life, the reasons for free milk in schools or nurseries no longer exist. It’s an expensive anachronism that well deserves its place in history.

Cameron flinched and blew it.

UPDATE: Great stuff from the GrumpyOldTwat: