So They Vote on PP Next Wednesday

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It seems that there will be a vote on the matter of PP next Wednesday (and, I suppose, the ban on smoking in cars with ‘children’ present as well) but there will be no debate. You might wonder how that could possibly be, but it seems that William Hague explained how the trick can be pulled: the Commons gave permission for the Sec of State for Health to draw up regulations; because of that, the regulations only need to be discussed by a Commons committee, which can call for a debate or not; if not, then only a vote is required.

Frankly, I don’t think that a debate would have mattered anyway.  The whole of Labour would vote for it and so would the whole of LibDems (bar a few), and there are quite a few Tories who are in favour. I expect a substantial majority in favour.

It really is crazy that our democratic processes have been so systematically debased in these matters. Think about how PP was introduced in the first place. It was an amendment in the Lords to the Children and Families Act. What has that got to do with PP? The reasoning would have to be stretched quite some distance – “glitzy packing of sweets attracts children, therefore glitzy packaging of cigs attracts children, therefore glitzy packaging must be banned, therefore this Bill is an appropriate vehicle for the ban”. I can imagine this ambush being planned some time ago, with the (paid for) advice of a ‘constitutional expert’.

The plan worked to perfection. I doubt that Cameron and the Cabinet could have done anything about it, unless they were really, really prepared to stick their necks out, which is not something that politicians are renowned for. Why stick their necks out? Well, first because it is ‘for the children’, secondly because the Commons has already accepted PP (even with almost no real debate about what was involved) and thirdly because they would be accused of supporting evil Big Tobacco.

Frankly, I don’t care about it because I think that even non-smokers who see these ugly packets will be repulsed – not repulsed from buying cigs since they do not smoke, but repulsed by the nastiness. Is that why cigs are now behind shutters – so that non-smokers cannot see the nastiness? I wonder what would happen if tobacco companies started paying for TV adverts featuring these packets? Surely, anti-smoking adverts are OK? The Government spends the taxes paid by smokers on anti-tobacco adverts itself, doesn’t it? So imagine Imperial Tobacco advertising its ecigs by showing pictures of the new cig packets? CLICK – rotting teeth; CLICK – black lungs; CLICK – huge throat tumour; CLICK – big, diseased eye – followed by a video showing someone puffing on an ecig with the voice-over: “You can avoid those risks with BLU (or whatever)”. I should imagine that there would be an avalanche of complaints, and, it is just possible, that some would ask: “Are these pictures of real smokers, and are the diseases really due to smoking?” Not that it will happen, of course. Why should tobacco companies bother? They are doing very well indeed, unlike pubcos.

Without any foundation at all, I half suspect that Clegg and the LibDems demanded that it should be done. I know that this is wildly ‘conspiracy theory’ stuff, but it does make some sense. In the dying days of this Parliament, suppose that Clegg was pressured by anti-smoking zealot LibDem MPs to issue an ultimatum to Cameron, the ultimatum being: “If you do not introduce PP and no kiddy-fiddling in cars NOW, we shall shout and scream. and tell the press that we asked to do it, but you refused. We can guarantee that you will get a very bad press, and be accused of killing babies. Professors galore will be interviewed on TV, and all you have is Forest, the tobacco company lackey”. What could Cameron do? The election is going to be a knife-edge contest. Principles go out of the door in this political situation. In any case, it is almost certain that, even if the Tories lost some votes to UKIP, so would Labour and LibDem ‘ result, ‘level playing field’.

But let us not despair. Every Tobacco Control Industry trick has a smaller and smaller effect, and every trick creates more and more opposition and more and more criminality, not only in organised criminal gangs, but also in criminalising the general public. Note Cameron’s solution to the Asian gangs who groom and shag young, white girls – blame and criminalise teachers, social workers and councillors.

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What we are seeing is an ideologically driven prohibitionist success which short-term politicians see no advantage in opposing. If the demonisation was about PP of alcohol or sugar, the situation would be the same, except that, at the moment, politicians would expect an immediate disadvantage if they suggested pictures of diseased lever on wine bottles, whisky bottles and beer pumps.

What does this mean? It means that our country is in a similar state to the last days of the Roman Empire – more and more effort being applied to regulation, obstacles, totalitarian ‘one size fits all’ standardisation, and ‘fascist’ insistence that ALL MUST COMPLY. It seems to me that the collapse of civilisations always has those attributes – over-regulation and loads of people to ensure compliance.

I read today that there are calls for drug legislation (heroin and such) to be moved from the Home Office to the Health Dept. Why? I do not know, but I could imagine that the idea is to de-criminalise heroin and such, and describe users as ‘ill addicts’, just like smokers.

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They can do what they want. At every turn, I personally will do the opposite.

 

 

 

 

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