Why any return to the Dimbleby Plan is a Really Bad Idea

We had little time for Henry Dimbleby’s food strategy plan when it was published in July 2021, as outlined here. Three years on, it’s even less relevant.(1)

It didn’t:


Three years on, it is even less relevant now for these reasons:

  • The ending of the Brexit transition period and its increasing impact on UK food security. (5)
  • The lessons to be learned from the impact of Covid on the food supply system. (6)
  •  The huge damage being wreaked on the global and UK supply system by this long list of threats:
    • population and demographic pressures
    • resource depletion
    • bio-diversity loss
    • pollution, ice melt and rising sea-levels
    • wildfires
    • emerging pathogens (of livestock and crops as well as people)
    • mass migrations
    • new technologies
    • increasingly volatile geopolitics (including the land war in Europe and the uprisings affecting Suez and the Persian Gulf) and . . .
  • The accelerating pace of climate change.


Despite the above, the Lib Dems in their manifesto appear keen to reinstate it in some way, and the City University are giving Dimbleby a platform to give his view on what the incoming government should do. Hence our reiteration of our concerns.


So what should an incoming Government do?

On that, more soon . . .

Meanwhile, you might well be interested in these two recent reports:

  1. Context: Aspects of the UK food supply network.
  2. What is the carrying capacity for us on this Earth? And how are we going to get there?


(1) This hasn’t stopped him writing this article in The Grocer on 28th June, in which he says: There is – if I say so myself – a well-evidenced, thoroughly costed and comprehensive plan ready for action, in the form of the 2021 National Food Strategy (which I led). Hey ho!

(2) On this matter, see our Note for the National Preparedness Commission.

(3) No surprise. Henry Dimblebly, a close personal friend of Michael Gove, was a keen Brexiteer. His appointment smacked of cronyism, a matter even the Daily Mail reported on when Dimbleby was appointed to review school meals provision in 2012.

(4) The choice of personnel for the Dimbleby team from the top down, exemplified the the exodus of food system expertise from the Government, see our post about an interview with Clare Moriaty, Permanent Secretary at Defra from April 2015 to April 2019.

(5) See, for example, this June 2023 FSA’s strategic assessment of the matter, this article by Jay Raynor following on from his ‘thin gruel and easy to set to one side’* assessment of Part One of the Dimbleby plan, and the alarmingly high proportion of YorkshireBylines Davis downsides that are food related.
* would that it were.

(6) The final Dimbleby plan mentioned Covid some fifty times, but didn’t draw lessons from the experience we had regarding the UK food supply system. note: We wrote a series of Covid-19 commentary posts on what was happening from March 2020 to February 2021.


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