Credit to Dick Puddlecote.
There was a meeting of ASH MP Zealots on Tuesday 3rd Sep. It was thinly disguised as ‘a debate on plain packaging’. It was held in ‘Westminster Hall’, a room in parliament. Don’t be impressed by the name ‘Westminster Hall’. I did a bit of checking up and found that the room in question was one of those rooms which have a horseshoe arrangement of the seating. The idea is to avoid the confrontational element of the House of Commons.
Philip Hollobone (Kettering, Conservative)
was the chairman. This how he opened the debate:
There are a lot of Members here, and I am keen that all those who have indicated that they wish to speak should be able to do so. However, because of the numbers, I am afraid that we will have to limit Back-Bench contributions to three minutes. Front-Bench speakers will have no more than 10 minutes.
One might get the impression from that statement that there may have been, say, 100 MPs present ‘a lot of Members here’. But I have done a few calculations. Only about 25 different individuals spoke, including the two front bench persons, Sourby and Abbott. Now, the chairman implied that lots of MPs present wanted to speak so that he had to limit speeches to 3 minutes for back-benchers. Now then, 23 back-benchers times 3 minutes equals 69 minutes. Add to that the two front-benchers at 10 minutes each and you get a total of 89 minutes. Further enquiries revealed that the scheduled meeting was 90 minutes (9.30 am to 11 am). Considering the arrangement of the furnishings, it is quite likely that this ‘packed’ debate actually consisted of no more than about fifty persons if that.
The transcript of the speeches at the (thinly disguised) ASH meeting (masquerading as a debate) is here:
It is well-worth reading if only to hear the worn-out clichés of Tobacco Control slogans and propaganda. A few MPs attended who were not Zealots and tried to bring the Zealots back to earth, but we all know that these people do not reason, even though they are MPs. In the speeches, a couple of the MPs revealed that one or more parents or family members who smoked died from lung cancer. Thus we can see how powerful is the urge to jump on the prevailing band-wagon – they smoked and died from LC, therefore smoking caused the LC, therefore I shall become an MP and fight the good fight against the murderers, Big Tobacco. All based upon emotions. Read the transcript and note how much of the so-called ‘evidence’ is sentimental slop. Again and again, the Zealots ‘appeal to authority’ in the form of ASH, CRUK, WHO, YOUGOV, etc. Read it, and see the slogans (‘half of smokers are killed by their habit’) repeated and repeated.
This was not a debate at all, even though a few people spoke against PP. It was a publicity stunt intended to pressure the government.
There are lots of these so-called ‘debates’ involving MPs with special interests. Few people attend them (which is why the chairman said that the meeting was ‘packed’). Somehow, they got Soubry and Abbott to speak. That is where Soubry’s airhead comments about her experiences of starting smoking by buying a packet of St Moritz fags came from).
I sometimes wonder if Cameron et al deliberately appoint junior health ministers who are in control of public health who are blathering incompetents. What might be the calculation? OK …. The Health Dept offshoot, Public Health, is dominated by anti-tobacco zealots. Why argue with them? Appoint one of their kind and let them bugger about. It is a great way to distract attention from more serious problems, and it gives a good excuse to increase duties. Let them blather. If their proposals are damaging electorally, we’ll just ignore them. Note that you never hear anyone important talking about smoking seriously – not Blair, not Brown, not Cameron. I haven’t seen or heard anything from the Health Sec himself, Hunt MP, about smoking. Not a word. Look what happened to Lansley – chucked out, along with that other ASH blatherer, Milton MP.
I sometimes wonder if the answer to our broken political system is for voters to pay attention to THE PEOPLE who are standing for election as MPs. Not their party or their manifestos, but to pay attention to THE PERSON. For example, should a person who was recently a university student and whose experience is that of a researcher for an MP be considered a suitable person to be an MP? Should a doctor be an MP? (Or should he/she be doing what he/she has been trained to do, at great public expense?) Why do so many MPs come from a legal background? What makes solicitors and barristers particularly good MPs? I certainly don’t see it – in fact, they are the worst possible MPs since they look at legalities rather than the effects.
It is a well-known fact that ASH ET AL aim to punish the poorest people the most. That group of people is their target. Not long ago, Nottingham was chosen for an experiment (and I use that word advisedly). A group of poor families, who needed children’s health services, were targeted to be experimented upon. The idea was to persuade these people to stop smoking in the presence of their children and to get carers and grandparents to do so also. Cotinine tests were carried out to see if they were telling the truth when the said that they had stopped smoking in the presence of their children. Needless to say, the results of this massively expensive experiment never appeared – probably because the parents and grandparents and carers lied. And why should they not? Why should they tell some busybody form Social Services the truth?
I get lots of YouGov surveys. When I first joined the panel, I answered surveys as best I could. Only recently has it occurred to me that my OPINION about some matter is neither here nor there. My OPINION is meaningless. The most revealing questionnaire of this nature was the one which asked me what I thought was a big herd of cows. That has stuck in my mind. How could I, a townie, possibly have an opinion?
The realisation that YouGov is a fraud has amused me greatly. I love responding to their surveys. I got one tonight. Part of it asked me to ‘rate’ my preference for certain internet sales sites. There was a list of about fifteen sites. I listed my preferences, even though I had not heard of them, in the same order in which they were presented to me. That is, out of, say, fifteen, I rated one to five as my preferences. Ha! Ha! The point is that it does not matter a damn. Actually, I only do the surveys looking for hidden smoking questions. YouGov is a fraud. It hides smoking questions inside questionnaires about herds of cows. Only Zealots who know about the hidden questions about smoking would bother to plough through the herds of cows.
The fact is that I just enjoy buggering up YouGov stats – in my small way.
A rather blathering post tonight. Maybe I should have been an MP.
I have just received and answered a q from YouGov. It asked me for my opinion about attacks upon Syria. Should we (or the USA) just:
1. Bomb the bastards.
3. Nuke the bastards.
Erm … 3 is not quite right.
The point is, “How should I know?” Even though all I see of these interventions is disaster, I still do not have enough information to make a decision. We have to rely upon the good sense of our leaders. Unfortunately, the Smoking Ban has shown that our leaders do not have good sense. Nor will we believe that they have ‘good sense’ until the Smoking Ban is repealed.
There is no doubt whatsoever that forcing publicans to enforce the smoking ban is the worst law ever. It is a scandal beyond imagining.
Let publicans decide whether to be smoking or not, or to have smoking or non-smoking areas or rooms. I will vote for any party which advocates such a policy, even if it only applies to pubs, clubs and bingo halls – and any other places where the poorest people congregate.