Thursday, 6 March 2014

The Questionable Morality Of The Puritans

Following on from my last post, I want to relay a story ... and there is a moral to this story.

It is no secret that I am a big supporter of electronic cigarettes. I personally think they are the best invention for smoking cessation in our lifetime and certainly helped me to completely quit the tobacco habit that I had for the majority of my adult life.

For that reason, I cannot understand the blind ignorance and sheer bloody-minded puritanical attitude of Public Health and bodies like WHO and the BMA - all of whose mantra is supposed to be 'Do No Harm'.

However, rather than rant on about ecigarettes, in this blog entry I am going to relay a moral story which (ironically) dates back to my days as a smoker.

Back in the days before the smoking ban, I was privileged to make the acquaintance of two charming old gentleman who used to frequent my local pub every afternoon between 5pm  and 8pm. Every day, they met there like clockwork and I got to know these two gentleman very well.

You see, both these gentleman were World War II veterans.

One had served with the Navy and had survived his battleship being sunk in the Atlantic, as well as taking part in some of the most pivotal sea-battles of the war.

The second gentleman had served as a tail-gunner on Lancaster bombers in the RAF. The tail-gunner was recognised as being the most perilous position on any bomber as most fighter-aircraft attacked from the rear. He was lucky in that his plane was never shot down. However, he had witnessed first hand the horror of watching his comrades blown from the sky in the many raids over Germany that he had taken part in.

Having survived the horrors of World War II, preserving the freedoms that later generations take for granted, all these men wanted to do was live the rest of their lives out in peace. Their greatest pleasure in the twilight of their lives was to meet up every day for 3 hours and enjoy each others company for a few beers. They asked for nothing and were always amiable and approachable, chatting with anyone who came their way. They were well-known and greatly respected by all who drank at the Pub. We all knew who they were and what they done for this country. We all made sure they were well looked after, even ensuring they had a taxi home every evening (especially if they 'over-indulged' - which did occasionally happen !!). They never really spoke in detail about their war experiences other than what they did in the war and (if enough beers were inside them) share the battle-scars and the stories around them. The real horror they refused to talk about (in common with many veterans).

Apart from the beers and chat, the other pleasure that both these gentleman enjoyed was to have a smoke with their beers. One was a cigar smoker, whilst the other enjoyed his pipe. Neither of these gentleman smoked at home. That was saved for when they came down to the pub for a natter and a few beers. I still fondly remember the faces of those gentlemen laughing at the bar jokes and putting about the odd wind-up of each other and of the regulars at the bar. They had fought for their freedoms and they made damn sure they enjoyed those freedoms.

Then the smoking ban arrived. It arrived a year earlier in Wales than it did in England, but it's effect was just as devastating. As soon as the smoking ban came in, neither of these gentlemen was ever seen in the pub again. The ONE pleasure they had left in life was extinguished at the stroke of a bureaucrat's (aided by Public Health) pen. Those men and their generation has given everything to fight for this country, to protect those they loved, to maintain the FREEDOMS that are supposed to be ours by right in the UK. All taken away by people who had no right to do so.

I have no idea if those two gentlemen are still with us. But I do remember them very well. My memory of them will live on.

Now several years later, the smoking ban is well established and is grudgingly accepted by all (after all, what choice do we have ?). But now we see similar parallels happening in our fight for the right to continue vaping on ecigarettes.

You see, us vapers CARE about our health and we CARE about our families, friends and acquaintances. Yes, we may be ex-smokers. But the emphasis must remain on the EX of that statement. We enjoy nicotine in the same way as others enjoy alcohol or caffeine. We KNOW smoking is damaging to our health. But the enjoyment we get from nicotine is no less relevant than the enjoyment others get from caffeine or alcohol.

Through ecigarettes, we have found a way to continue to enjoy nicotine. We are doing neither harm to ourselves or to anyone else by using our ecigarettes. This fact is SCIENTIFICALLY proven.

So why the hell won't the politicians, public health, the BMA, WHO etc LEAVE US ALONE ?

It is OUR lives. These are OUR bodies. What we choose to do with them is OUR business, not theirs. I am sick to death of the lies and misinformation that emanates from these so-called experts. The puritanical attitude of these people makes me SICK. They just cannot bear to think that somebody out there might actually be enjoying themselves.

For those who are fervently against either tobacco cigarettes or electronic cigarettes, just remember that we are the ones being persecuted today. If we let them persecute us, then tomorrow they will trying to ban your alcohol or caffeine to the annals of history. Already in the press we are seeing Public Health people calling for taxes on SUGAR for christ sake. These people will not stop because with each battle they win, they have to find another one to fight or else they lose their funding.

To paraphrase the well-known blogger - Dick Puddlecote, they are all rent-seeking parasites.

In this age of austerity, this country could be saving MILLIONS if they stopped funding these puritanical parasites instead of picking on the sick or disabled for their savings.

Vapers cost this country NOTHING. We buy our own gear. We harm nobody - neither ourselves or anyone else with our habit. We support a plethora of SME's (small and medium sized enterprises) that have sprung up around the country and that provide employment to their locality. FFS, we are supporting growth in business and jobs, and putting money into the economy. In a SANE world, what we do would be welcomed.

But this is not a sane world. It is an INSANE world where those very freedoms for which those two aging gentlemen and their generation fought and, in far too many cases, paid the ultimate price.

Let's honour those gentlemen and their comrades by celebrating our freedoms, not meekly surrendering them to the idealistic, puritanical parasites that live in the Public Domains mentioned above.

These are OUR lives and OUR choices.


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Politicians - Who Do They Really Represent ?

In the grand scheme of things, I am just a non-descript nobody in this world. I am not a celebrity, not a journalist, not a public figure. I work for a living, get paid each month for my efforts. In fact, my work is probably the only place where I get listened to, which is just as well as I design multi-million dollar IT Solutions for corporations around the UK and Europe. But outside of that, few people actually pay much attention to what I have to say. I very much doubt anyone will even read this blog, but at least I get to blow some steam by doing this.

I use (some) Social Media on the internet and have been known to write a Tweet on occasion (when I feel the need to rant or say something that may be of interest), I have also been known to write strongly worded letters of complaint to the press AND Politicians.

I have never been what one would describe as a political animal. Growing up in a mining village in the Swansea Valley as I did, about the only political decision I ever made was to vote in the elections - General Elections, European Elections, Welsh Assembly elections and even sometimes the Council Elections. Coming from where I do, I suspect it is quite easy to work out which way I tended to vote.

But over the last 12 months, I have found myself becoming more and more politicised. This has occurred because I have finally opened my eyes to the way Politicians work. Over the last 12 months I have found myself consistently asking myself just who these Politicians are REALLY representing ?

In the past couple of years, the subject of tobacco restriction has come very much to the fore in the public eye. Most notably when the widly absurd move to ban smoking in public places came into force between 2006-2007 in England, Scotland & Wales. At that time, I was still a smoker myself. I knew for a FACT that the majority of people that drank regularly in pubs were also smokers and could see what was coming - the death knell for many struggling pubs. This has been borne out by the sheer number of them that are closing down in a daily basis. Quite why a pub could not re-introduce the 'Snug', where smokers could go to enjoy their habit was beyond me. But that was the law and it was passed with surprisingly little fuss.

I quit smoking  a few years ago when I discovered the joys of the electronic cigarette. At last I could enjoy nicotine without all the nasty side-effects that came with smoking tobacco. I was a menthol-smoker, so naturally went the route of menthol flavoured ecigarettes at first. However, the plentiful array of different flavours soon led me to experiment and now I tend to prefer the fruit-flavours.

Having discovered this new, safer way of enjoying nicotine, I was dismayed by the news that those in Public Health were pushing for a ban on ecigarettes. Why ?  There are over 100 peer-reviewed studies in existence that show that ecigarettes are a safe way of enjoying nicotine. They neither harm the user or anyone in the vicinity. There is no second-hand smoke (because ecigarettes exude a water-vapour), and what ecigarettes do produce have been proven to be harmless to anybody - not even the user. In fact, since I started using ecigarettes my Health has improved no end. I am probably stronger and fitter now than I have been at any time since I retired from playing Rugby 16 years ago.

However, what dismayed me the most was to find that Politicians - those WE put into power - were being swayed either directly by lobbying from the Pharmaceutical Companies, or by Public Health officials (funded by OUR money though also heavily 'influenced' by those same Pharmaceutical Companies).

What ensued has become a very personal battle (for me and many thousands of 'vapers' across Europe) against crazy legislation and even crazier premise for the effective banning of ecigarettes.

But this has raised the question that is the subject of this blog. Just who do Politicians really represent ?

Every 4-5 years, we are expected to vote them into office. But it seems to me that (with the notable excpetion of a very few), election time is the ONLY time they actually engage with us. Nine times out of ten, once these people are elected they do exactly the OPPOSITE of what they promised to do.

Why the hell should we bother voting for these charlatans ?

They are paid with OUR money. They enjoy considerably good terms for their expenses (and abuse even that), but they refuse to engage or listen to anyone except the big conglomerates that Lobby them (e.g. Pharma) or the Public Health bodies that are also paid for by us but whom also Lobby the Politicians.

What we effectively end up with is a bunch of politicians who are really just a front for unelected bodies such as the big corporations and Public Health. They most certainly do NOT represent us.

Whatever 'colours' these Politicians sit under, they do what THEY want to do and NOT what they were elected to do.

For example, the Lib-Dems promised in their manifesto that they would reduce (or discontinue) University Fees. Once in power, the University Fees went UP

For example, The Conservative manifesto stated that they would protect public services like the NHS, the Police and Royal Mail, but all they have done is continually cut funding to the NHS and the Police, and then sold Royal Mail on the cheap

Labour purport to be the party of the working man. But from where I am standing they are simply a bunch of prohibitionist control freaks determined to poke their noses into our private lives at every opportunity and 'nanny' us to death.

UKIP promise much but deliver little. In Europe they can't even be bothered to turn up most of the time.

Which brings me nicely on to Europe. The most morally bankrupt bunch of politicians I have ever witnessed are in residence in the European Parliament. When they cannot pass laws transparently, they resort to doing it in secret and behind closed doors (The Tobacco Products Directive is a clear example of this kind of underhand tactic).

What goes on in Europe is the main reason why I have completely changed my view on the European Union. I used to support it, but after discovering that the European Parliament is even more corrupt and underhand than our own Government, then I am convinced we must leave it at the earliest opportunity.

What we need is transparency in Government, not the smoke and mirrors we see every day. Our elected Politicians are hand in glove with the big corporations and Public Health. They represent the unelected ambition of those bodies. They DO NOT represent us at all. They won't talk to us, they won't listen to us.

We need a party by the people, for the people.

There are exceptions of course. Some Politicans have engaged with me personally. I am very appreciative of that fact and for that reason I will name them. Take a bow Nikki Sinclaire, Martin Callanan, Marina Yannakoudakis, Dr Kay Swinburne and Rebecca Taylor. You are the ONLY Politicians that I have conversed with who have actively sought to engage with me in any meaningful way. The crazy part of this paragraph is that only Dr Kay Swinburne actually represents the area in which I live - which makes the others even more remarkable in my eyes (ironically they are all also MEP's)

It is not going to take much more before the UK (and Europe) descends into total anarchy with civil unrest and disobedience. Far-right parties are on the rise throughout Europe and one can easily see why.

So do I trust Politicians ?  I have to say the answer is a resounding NO. Most refuse to connect with me, engage with me, listen to me or even acknowledge my existence (except at election time). The exceptions are listed above.

This now puts me in a conundrum. I can NEVER again, in all conscience, vote for the Control-freak Party (Labour).

I have little faith in the Lib-Dems due in no small part to that odious little creature known as Nick 'U-Turn' Clegg.

I cannot stand the smug David 'Clueless' Cameron or George 'Sumzoll Wong' Osborne. I also believe Iain Duncan Smith should be put on trial for Genocide for his treatment of the Sick and Disabled. Therefore, despite my high opinion of the Conservative MEP's listed above, I could not vote Conservative either.

As a proud, fluently Welsh-speaking Welshman, it is probably also fair for me to comment on Plaid Cymru. Well, I was appalled at the things I saw and heard from Plaid Cymru Councillors when I worked at a Council under their control. So my opinion of Plaid Cymru is unprintable.

Surely I cannot be the only person in this position ?

There is a line in the song 'Freewill' recorded by the best band ever to come out of Canada - Rush. It goes ' If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice'.
Well I have a choice to make but as most Politicians are self-serving lying b******s, it is a very difficult one.

It is about time this country woke up and truly asked themselves who the Politicians REALLY represent ?

I think you will find the answer is NOT US