Are the Conservatives Cleverer Than We Give Them Credit For?

I know that this is a long shot, but I cannot help it.

I’ve been thinking about the numbers. In the Lords, the Zealots only just managed to get their amendment about smoking in cars with children present passed – 222 for and 197 against. In the Commons, however, the vote was overwhelming – 376 for and 107 against. Why the huge discrepancy? 

The question that came into my mind was why so many conservative MPs voted for the motion. After all, it cannot have escaped their attention that it is an invasion of private space and is virtually unenforceable. So why do it?

It crossed my mind that there is another interpretation, long shot though it is.

We must not forget that the Families and Children Bill has also been amended to permit the Government to introduce plain packaging if it wishes to. So, the result of this vote has added the car ban to the ‘enablement’. The Government has been ‘enabled’ to introduce PP and the car ban. 

But it doesn’t have to as a consequence of this Bill. 

So what has actually happened? It is that Tobacco Control is now off the Government’s back. TC cannot bring the matter forward legislatively again. Parliament has decreed to leave both PP and a car ban up to the Government. If, when and in what form the Government decides to act, is up to the Government. No time-frame was included and it is interesting that Cameron has, apparently, said that he ‘intends’ to produce legislation/regulations before the next election in 2015 – but he doesn’t have to. 

Think about it. On the one hand, he has placated the Health Zealots and removed the potential for ‘child murderer’ accusations; on the other hand, he has somewhat limited the UKIP threat. The beauty of Cameron’s position at this juncture is that PP and a car ban are in limbo. 

Further, a car ban is not a Health Dept matter – it is a Home Office matter: a matter for the police. Plain packaging is similar. Think about it. The stated reason for smoking ban was health of workers. What direct health consequence does PP have? It doesn’t. The car ban is directly health related, but there are no publicans and there is no tobacco industry to bully. It would be one on one. Police (and only police) versus individual members of the public. The whole idea is preposterous. But, no doubt, TC is relying upon the seat belt law. “If you pass this law, everybody will obey because it is the law”. Well, possibly, but there are huge differences. First, it is comparatively easy to see whether or not a person is wearing a belt; secondly, people do actually see the reason for the law; thirdly, there is a difference between needing the solace of a cigarette and wearing a belt. 

So we see that matters are not as clear cut as seems. But one wonders whether or not the Conservatives have some sort of ‘cascade’ system. I do not see why not. (After all, TC clearly does)  A rings B,C,D. B rings E,F,G: C rings H,I,J: D rings K,L,M. The Message, to a selected group of ‘loyal’ conservative MPs is “Vote FOR this amendment”. 


What a great idea! But I am as sceptical as I am hopeful. I’m not at all sure that the so-called ‘Conservative Party’, which is supposed to be ‘united’, is anything other than a collection of self-serving individuals who just happen to find it useful to associate themselves with a label. Associating themselves with a label suits TC Zealots very well. There are several TC Zealots who bear the label ‘conservative’ and several who bear the label ‘labour’ and several who bear the label ‘libdem’. If WE know who they are, so also do the party leaders. I speak of the members of the All Party committee on Smoking and Health and others. 


But there is another curious thing happening which no one is talking about. A Private Members Bill succeeded in the ballot in June 2013. It seeks:

“… make provision to allow smoking in a separate ventilated room in a private members’ club if a majority of the members of the club so decide.”

This proposed Bill is to have its second reading and is to be debated on 28th February 2014. Not a cat in hell’s chance, of course, but amusing – adults who wish to smoke, in separate ventilated room, in a private club, as agreed by the club members. What can possibly be wrong with that? It is a proposed amendment to the smoking ban, so the fact that it is contrary to the smoking ban is not a reason to deny it. But it will be kicked into touch, of course. Such sensible ideas are just too happy to be allowed.


5 Responses to “Are the Conservatives Cleverer Than We Give Them Credit For?”

  1. michaeljmcfadden Says:

    Very sharply analyzed Junican! You may have something there!

    I was actually thinking about PP earlier today while having some fun over at:

    Check out the picture at the top: the way that poor man is so seductively hypnotized by the pretty color blue! The blueness of it all would capture his soul except for the nagging little angel on his shoulder making his life miserable.

    Of course it’s hard to see that the blueness also has a word on it, Windsor, because you wouldn’t want an innocent member of the public to not only get blueness but also wordness attacking them! I guess the censors figure that the average person can’t read blurry words so it’s OK to have it there like that.


    I dunno if I’d totally dismiss the chances of the separated private club room though. Yeah, there’d be screamin’ ‘n squallin’, but, on the other hand, it could pick up vote from people who figure “Hey, we voted for the car ban and PP … we’ve shown our hearts are in the right place … why not throw the smokers a bone?”

    – MJM

    • junican Says:

      You’ve been enjoying yourself over in Swindon, haven’t you?
      I think that the pontification by the Zealots has more or less run its course. I read the article and discounted every statistical claim as nonsense. I can’t help but feel that most people do also. The repetition is failing by being just boring.

  2. prog Says:

    Wishful thinking J, and anyway a new incoming Labour government would immediately enable it. What might be going through his mostly vacuous mind is the loss of tobacco duty should anti policies actually significantly decrease smoking rates. Not that that would seriously distract an outgoing government – it wouldn’t be its problem for several years. On the other hand, the Tories just might get re-elected and perhaps even he recognises that prospective voters are getting pissed off. But why did he sanction the car ban?

    In essence, I think what has happened is the result of having easily led incompetents and/or self serving c***ts ruling our lives, and have had for at least 20 years. There are many non elected influences (e.g. Arnott) who, regarding single issues, have more real power than the average MP. On the surface such creatures claim to be non political and many so called right wingers appear to believe this.

    • junican Says:

      “Wishful thinking” – I agree, but it would be interesting if it were true!
      I’m not sure that Labour would do that. It might. That’s my whole point. Because of this vote, the matter is now a political one and not a health one. IF I am right, then all the Zealots can do is scream. They cannot introduce legislation again.
      But you are perfectly correct – almost certainly too clever by a half for politicians to figure out.

  3. Woodsy42 Says:

    It’s a good idea but I’m a bit confused. Who, where or what are these ‘Conservatives’ you speak of?

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