When we talk about “The Government”, whether we intend to or not, we refer to the whole apparatus. The political party which won the last general election is not “The Government”, although it is part of it. Or rather, it is those politicians in the winning party who become ministers who are part of it. But the ministers are only the top of a volcano. What spews out of the volcano comes from far below the crater. Have we not seen countless examples in recent decades? A couple of examples:
Around 2005: Conservative party: “We have no plans to introduce smoking bans”.
2015: Conservative/Liberal government introduce ban on smoking in cars with kids present and PP.
2010: Con/Lib administration: “There will be a bonfire of the quangos”.
2015: Bigger and more powerful quangos in place.
Even so, it tends to be the case that politicians do keep some control over what is put to Parliament in the UK Parliament. I suppose that centuries of tradition help. But what has happened in the Welsh assembly and the Scottish Parliament? The proposed ecig ban in public places, now nearly before the Welsh assembly is silly enough (especially in the light of the PHE statement), but what about the new thing in Scotland? What about the new proposal to stop anyone under the age of 25 from buying cigs, and, the requirement for those people to produce proof of age?
I have no doubt that those proposals have come from deep inside crazy world of the Scottish health dept. Any decent Scottish Cabinet would be instituting an investigation into how employees have the time to waste on such things, and demanding a reduction in senior staffing levels. I mean, how did such an idea ever get to the publicity stage, never mind a serious intention to legislate that under 25s are immature children, unable to decide for themselves whether to enjoy tobacco or not.
Clearly, tobacco control zealots in the Scottish administration think that they have everything sewn up, and perhaps they have, but one might ask how this reflects upon the maturity of the Scottish parliamentary system. How does the Scottish health secretary defend such idiocy in cabinet?
It seems to me that we have arrived at a point where the dog must get control of its tail. That is, the Scottish Government cabinet must do a root and branch purge of its departments. It isn’t difficult. All that is needed is to replace the Zealots who occupy the top positions in ‘preventative health’ with sensible people – people who see that bullying is not acceptable in government and will persuade no one.
Obesity? Bullying food companies will have no effect whatsoever because people eat only what they enjoy. I remember a local restaurant going ‘saltfree’. It dishes were cooked with minimum salt. I remember eating there once. The dishes tasted bland, and sprinkling salt on the surface merely made the dishes taste salty. It was a terrible decision because adding salt in the cooking affected the whole dish and made it tasty. That is not the same as sprinkling salt on the surface. I am no cook, but I would doubt that you could get salt inside a chicken that you intend to roast. Therefore, diners need to sprinkle salt onto the roasted chicken on their plate. It was not many months before that restaurant abandoned that policy. Clearly, the attack upon food companies by quangos is misplaced. I guess that the ‘success’ of the tobacco control template is the driving force. What these people do not seem to grasp is that ‘the template’ has been an unmitigated failure.
Because a ten-fold (?) increase in tobacco taxes has not even stopped the poorest of people from smoking. Why should it stop better-off folk if it cannot stop the poorest folk? The reason that the better-off stopped smoking was because their wealth gave them access to many other sources of pleasure, and because smoking became unfashionable in their circles. Note the word UNFASHIONABLE.
Why did smoking become unfashionable? I suppose that that question is as difficult to answer as would be the question, “Why did smoking become fashionable?” Could it be that the stress of wars caused an increase in smoking (it is statistically true that huge peaks occurred in the take up of smoking in WW1 and WW2), and thus drove smoking to become desirable as a stress reducer and general societal lubricant? I think so, because, twenty years ago (if not less) it was considered to be a friendly overture to offer a person, even a stranger, a cigarette. At the same time, in pubs and clubs, it was considered to be a friendly gesture to offer to buy a person a drink. “What’s your poison?” “Oh, thanks, I’ll have a pint – and thanks very much”. Gestures which turned acquaintance into friendship. Is there any modern equivalent? I suppose showing someone the pics on your mobile could be equivalent – Eh??? Erm… I think not. In fact, it would be the opposite. “Goodbye, and thanks for showing me your pics”. There seems to be no equivalent, which may be why the pubs are empty. The same applies to tipping. Not an awful long time ago, I would buy a pint, and if the cost was, say, £1.40, I would offer £1.50 and say, “Keep the change”. Depending upon the circumstances, I might buy something costing £1.50, offer £2 and say, “Keep the change”. I no longer do so.
I no longer do so because the free interchange of service by bar staff, along with a welcome and an ‘ease’ no longer apply. The ‘ease’ has gone. Transactions are forced interchanges. “We have a discount card. Would you like a card which entitles you to 10% discount?” “Erm.. No thanks. I already have 500 discount cards. Tell you what. If I no longer tip, I’ll save even more money than the discount card”. I have an arrangement in my favourite bar in Magalluf. Whatever the cost of my total lunch and drinks is, I round it up to the next euro. Sometimes I ‘win’, if the round-up is low, and sometimes I ‘lose’, if the round-up is high. But what does it matter, because the owner gives me a free pint from time to time! “On me”, he says. When did your local in England give you a free pint because you are a regular? Thus has the ‘ease’ disappeared. The smoking ban introduced ‘dis-ease’, and it is from that that many of our societal troubles have emanated. The common meeting places of old, middle and young, and the balances produced by the interchange of behaviours and ideas due to those meetings have been destroyed.
“All the lonely people,
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people,
Where do they all belong?”
Via the smoking ban, Public Health has created loneliness on a massive scale. Loneliness is a killer, far worse than smoking. Smoking, drinking and socialising are life-giving. They uplift the spirit.
Perhaps the modern day fear of the idea of anything spiritual is akin to Roman rule in Palestine around 1 AD. “Give unto Caesar…” It seems odd that the Christian churches have given up. They made terrible errors of which ‘mens sana in corpore sana’ (‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’) was one. Another was ….. damn it, it has slipped my mind. And yet ‘spiritual’ exists.
Oh dear, one is going into vague places.
But is it not true that the Scottish Government, despite its youth, has become an old nanny? It is smacking its kiddies rather than rewarding its adults.
But the youth are not that stupid. It is only old farts like us who give a shit. The youth do as they wish. Their conduct is no longer mitigated by mixing with old farts and mature adults since they no longer mix because of the disastrous effects of the smoking ban. Cameron does not care and neither does what’s-her-name who rules Scotland.
We seem to have a new form of ‘King’ or ‘Emperor’, but its name is ‘Commission’.