Friday, 30 June 2017
The Tipping Point
That did not last long long did it ?
After stating in my last blog entry that I would not be writing anything again for the forseeable future, here I am writing another entry. Strange the things that can trigger off ideas for new entries.
There has been much talk in various blogs in recent days of the looming '10th Anniversary Of The Smoking Ban'. Many people have covered it and much chit and chat has ensued on Twitter and other social media platforms. However, something caught my attention this week which indicates to me the possibility that we may have reached (or at least be close to) the tipping point in Prohibition. That is, we may have reached the point where the public (and Government) have said enough is enough.
What has made me think this is the fact that ASH are starting to stamp their feet and have a serious tantrum over the 'lateness' (their words, not mine) of a new tobacco control strategy from the Government. Apparently such a plan is some 18 months overdue. I was not aware that Government is expected to have a new tobacco control plan every so many months (or years), but ASH seem to think that this is exactly what should be happening. However, there was no mention of any new tobacco control plan in the Queen's speech and this has apparently got ASH very alarmed. So much so that they have obviously been lobbying their pet sock-puppet - Andrew Blackman - to ask urgent questions on the matter in the Commons. The only answer they got was a vague promise that it is coming.
To be fair to Theresa May, following the disaster that was the last General Election when she failed to get the solid majority she was hoping for, she has far more pressing matters on her mind. To ensure Brexit, she needs a majority in the Commons and to get that she has had to go cap in hand to the DUP for an informal alliance.
The thing is that there is a great deal of uncertainty in the House Of Commons of late. The Tories are trying to fend off challenges to their authority from all of the opposition parties. This creates a great deal of flux in the day to day business at Westminster that makes all of the competing parties vulnerable to influence from all sides. Organisations like ASH will try to take advantage of the uncertainty by more forcibly pushing their own agenda. We have already seen them do so. But this also gives the persecuted the chance to push back and exploit those same opportunities.
For example, is it coincidence that UKIP's support fell away at the last election when their new manifesto (for the very first time) made no mention of repealing the smoking ban ?
Personally, I think there were a lot of other factors at play, but for many smokers up and down the country, UKIP's previous opposition to the smoking ban made them a very attractive party to vote for. After all they were the only party to openly state any support for the plight of smokers.
As I understand it, Theresa May herself is a former smoker. Indeed there are many other Conservative MP's who are also smokers, or at least known to be pro-smoking. So surely it would make sense for the Conservative party to move to occupy the space vacated by UKIP and take a more Libertarian and pro-choice stance. This would attract the vote of a great many of this country's disenfranchised smokers. There are still estimated to be (circa) 9-10 million smokers in the UK. If the Conservatives had captured even a proportion of those millions, their position in the House Of Commons would be far stronger than it is at present. Maybe that is what is driving their seeming reluctance to publish a new tobacco control plan ? Who knows.
But, if no new tobacco control plan is published, where does that leave the likes of ASH ?
In truth, it puts them in a very awkward place and I think they know it. They have to be seen to be 'value for money' to be able to get the lucrative grants and donations they have received from the Government in previous years. Without those monies, their ability to lobby and coerce politicians becomes greatly reduced. Also, the megabucks paid to the likes of Deborah Arnott, let alone the millions they squander on travelling the UK, Europe and the world in attending conference after conference such the recent COP7, whilst staying in the best 5-star hotels, is seriously compromised.
In such a situation, ASH would have no choice but to do what other so-called Public Health 'charities' have done and that is to morph into an organisation more generalised than just one that deals with tobacco. They have done this once already when they expanded their portfolio once in an attempt to incorporate (and control) ecigs into their scope. A move that has been far more bumpy and uncomfortable that they expected. But if ASH expand their scope again, then they risk straying into prohibition areas already occupied by other Prohibitionist Public Health 'charities'.
They are not alone in this of course. There are a whole swathe of Public Health 'charities' and organisations that have sprung up in recent years. We have the likes of Alcohol Policy UK trying to introduce Minimum Unit Pricing, ban advertising and introduce tobacco control-style warnings on each and every alcoholic beverage. Then there is Action on Salt and Action on Sugar trying to coerce gullible companies (such as the makers of Lucozade) to reduce the salt and/or sugar content in their products and asking for tobacco control-style warnings on the packaging of any company that does not comply. Now we even have the BMA calling for graphic warnings of packets of sweets, as reported here by Chris Snowdon.
There are surely so many of these prohibitionist fruitcakes interfering in our lives that we must now be at the tipping point where there is a serious kickback against these people. Most rational people do not believe a word they say anyway. The internet (and social media in particular) has been a great way to see through their distorting of statistics, debunking of their 'science' and exposing their outright lies. More and more people are starting to view these drooling megalomaniacs with a great deal of suspicion.
I think the time has arrived to make that stand, to fight back in our quest for a true Libertarian world, where freedom of choice and personal responsibility is reclaimed from Government and Public Health, by the public. We can start by calling on the Government to stop funding such people. They provide no value for money and, in a climate where money is increasingly tight, it is money better spent of services we genuinely need.
The way politics is currently operating, we have never had a greater opportunity to influence the direction this country is heading. We can fight back against these authoritarians because our politics have never been in such a weak and parlous state. Whether you are on the left of the political spectrum, or the right, surely this is something worth fighting for ?