Number Crunching the Vote in the House of Lords re Smoking in Cars

This is very weird.

An amendment to the ‘Children and Families Bill’ was tabled by the government concerning plain packaging. That was amendment 57B. Amendment 57B would enable the Sec of State to make regulations introducing PP as and when he wished to. That Government amendment was fully described. The weird thing is that there were two further amendments which were not fully described.

Amendment 57BA merely changed the word ‘may’ to ‘must’ in a particular provision and is not very important to us.

Amendment 57BB is the one which brought in the possibility of banning smoking in vehicles with children (up to age 18) present.

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After a great deal of searching, I finally found the actual divisions regarding these amendments to the Bill. Hansard for the Lords merely states:

“57BA not moved”

“57B agreed”

A division only occurred regarding 57BB.

As we know, the division went 222 in favour and 197 against.

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I thought that it might be interesting to see who voted, and what their allegiances were. But first, let me give you the  URL for the whole debate as described in Hansard:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201314/ldhansrd/text/140129-0001.htm

For the details of the voting, I had to go elsewhere:

http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2014-01-29&number=1&house=lords

By doing the maths, I arrived at the following facts (although there are some small rounding errors).

Out of a total of approx 235 Conservative peers, 138 voted. ALL of them voted against the amendment. The other 97 were absent.

Out of a total of approx 243 Labour peers, 154 voted. ALL except 2 voted for the amendment. The other 89 were absent.

The LibDems have approx 107 peers. 59 voted. 30 voted for, and 29 against. 48 were absent.

There is a big group of peers called ‘Crossbenchers’. They are not officially attached to any party:

The total of Crossbenchers is 193 approx. 57 voted – 32 for, 25 against. 136 were absent. 

The rest of the peers do not amount to much in numbers, so I’m not going to analyse them, but a couple of anomalies appear.

There are 2 UKIP peers. 1 turned up and voted against.

There are 25 bishops. I turned up and vote for.

There are 15 Judges. 2 turned up and voted for.

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We should not read to much into the absentees. I know that ‘pairing’ is practised in the Lords as it is the the Commons. For those not familiar with the idea of ‘pairing’, the practice enables MPs and Peers to ‘pair off’ as individuals by personal agreement, so that a “Yes” vote from, say, a conservative is cancelled out by a “No” vote from an labour. These arrangements are common and are ‘official’ in the sense that the Parties know who is paired with whom. Of course, when a really important matter comes up, the party whips tell all their MPs and Peers to turn up and vote. I suppose that it works well enough. One thing that intrigued me was the voting of the bishop and the two judges. You would think that the bishop would think of the morality of the hidden agenda, and you would think that the judges would think of the legal mess that trying to enforce such legislation would create. One can only assume that the reason that they turned up is that they are Zealots. The fifty-fifty split of the LibDems is also interesting, as is the similar split in the crossbenchers.

But of the greatest importance is the almost 100% ‘for’ and ‘against’ count of the conservatives and labour. Clearly, Labour set a trap, and it worked. In other words, as far as the Labour Opposition is concerned, ‘Health’ was just a lever to embarrass Cameron. Evidence of that political trickery comes from Milliband’s declaration that a smoking ban in cars will be in the Labour Party manifesto. Funny, isn’t it, that the Labour Party had nothing in their manifesto about the smoking ban. Not a peep. The disarray in the LibDem ranks is very telling, but not necessarily in a bad way. It could indicate that they did not treat this matter as a political football.

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I find this brouhaha to be indicative of our political malaise. The House of Lords does not exist to promulgate miasmas, myths and superstitions. In fact, it exist for exactly the opposite purpose. It exists to calmly consider the proposals of the emotionally retarded Common and eliminate the emotion. In this matter, the House of Lords fell into the pit of ignorance.

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You reasonably wonder how such a state can have come to pass. Clearly, as you can see from the debate if you read it, there is NO DEFENCE against “the children” —- unless you confront the superstition head-on. “There is no danger to children in cars from SHS – for a start, the time exposure is far to short. PROVE otherwise. I do not have to prove what cannot be proved (zero problem). Therefore, you have to prove actual problems. The onus is upon you” I look around me, and I see, sort of, what might be the problem.

Since the advent of the internet, blogs such as this have sprung up. But we appeal to only a small number of people. On the other hand, blogs such as YouGov speak to hundreds of thousands. It is curious how YouGov got so many ‘followers’, because that is all the YouGov panel is – ‘followers’. There again, there is the army of Common Purpose Graduates’ and their friends, and readers of the Guardian. Also, it is unlikely that the ‘lesser sort’ will be interested in YouGov. It will be the purse-lipped lower middle classes who will assiduously give their opinions and condemn. Thus, YouGov is hopelessly unrepresentative – but it’s owner is on the ASH Board, and provides the Tobacco Control Industry with just the ‘evidence’ that it needs.

But what is worse is that Political Parties are also affected by the ‘polls’, and polls are easier to do with the advent of the internet than before. Thus, they are all looking at the same stats, and all assuming that they must aim at the the same ‘fictitious’ majority. Thus, their policies must be tailored to the same group of purse-lipped, lower middle class people. Thus, there is little difference between their policies. If the water supply collapsed tomorrow, the Zealots would still be banging on about the ‘wonderful success’ of their latest TV advert. What they do not understand is that the purse-lipped advocates of this and that do not really give a toss. They say that they are concerned on a YouGov survey, but forget it instantly as soon as they have finished the survey.

I doubt that there is a politician with guts, and I do not understand why. Perhaps we need a Stalin. He could start by executing all the current troughers in the EU Commission, and several ASH ET AL glitteratii.  “Is this a dagger that I see before me?” (to quote Macbeth). But we do not need Macbeth since we have McTear. I wonder what would have happened in the Lords if a knowledgeable peer had said, “But what about the McTear Case? YOU could not even prove that smoking causes any illnesses at all! What proof do you have ……” But, as we have learnt, you cannot reason with emotion.

 

 

 

 

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4 Responses to “Number Crunching the Vote in the House of Lords re Smoking in Cars”

  1. J Brown Says:

    Perhaps the crux of this issue, and just about every other issue that the government espouses, is politically driven ‘science’, cherry picking statistics, etc. Aside from some play against Cameron, I don’t find that Labour or liberals voting for what they perceive as a health issue, as unusual. After all, that’s what they do – they put themselves in a position to ‘protect’ the masses, whether through socialized medicine, distribution of wealth, and, in this case, the protection of children. But they base their opinions on motivated information, and that is the problem – the fact that some organization, whether government, tobacco control, etc., has been able to manipulate the information, science, etc, to their own ends, so that possibly well-meaning people who do not take the time to research on their own, blindly follow that information. You can find this with just about every issue that any government puts forward, whether an Iraqi attack, a badger cull, the legalization of drugs, cancer treatments, cholesterol research or, in this instance, the dangers of smoking. The problem is far bigger than the smoking issue – it infiltrates everything. Of course, being a smoking blog, we are interested in the smoking portion of this, but the wider issue is the fact that, sadly, there is a profit motive in most issues, and those with the most to gain – and the most money to promote their opinion – are the ones that are able to more readily put their stance into the public forum, and are followed.

    • nisakiman Says:

      I broadly agree with what you write; the lawmakers are very much led by the nose by the lobbyists with most clout (read funding), but I would have thought that most of them had a modicum of intelligence. I, as a smoker, generally, and without much thought (after all, they were ‘experts’) accepted all the propaganda we were fed about smoking causing LC, heart attacks etc.

      Until, that is, they started on the SHS malarkey. That defied logic and common sense, and is what led me to blogs like this one. If it gave me, someone who left school at 16 with a couple of ‘O’ levels, pause for thought, surely those with a much higher level of education and who are tasked with steering a nation should have seen through the deception?

      • J Brown Says:

        Nisakiman, I think that is the point – it is only when we are affected in some way, that we take the initiative to do some ‘homework’ regarding the ‘facts’ or ‘science’ that we have been given. The interesting thing is that, once you do this on on issue (ie SHS), you realize that the same procedure occurs in just about every government policy. In the States we have a simple saying: follow the money. And you can apply that (and get some interesting results) in most issues, whether cancer research, pharmaceuticals, smoking information……and even those that are beyond this blog. ‘Leaders’ rely on the fact that very few of their constituents/followers/officials/public will take the time to actually do any homework themselves, sadly. And for the most part, it’s true, even if you are personally affected. It’s the profit, however, that truly rules, in just about every issue.

  2. junican Says:

    Human motivation is a complex thing, isn’t it? I am sure that there are people in the tobacco industry who spend their time (and earn their money) on figuring out how to advertise without advertising. This is almost certain to be true also of the tobacco control industry, except that their objectives (to keep the money rolling in) are different. So we have two industries which appear on the surface to be mutually antagonistic, but are not. Both have an interest in keeping the funds flowing in. Governments also have an interest in keeping the funds (taxes) flowing in.
    The result is that all three of these groups have an interest in controlling change. Ecigs have thrown a spanner in the works and, in a small way at the moment, threatened to disrupt ALL of the coinciding objectives of the big three.
    But vapers at least have a chance since they hold ‘the high moral ground’. They must cling to it it with tenacity since neither tobacco control nor the tobacco industry nor government are in their camp.

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