Progressives and Conservatives

I think that ‘progressives’ always have some ideal future towards which they wish to progress. But the flip side of such progressivism is that progressives hate the present, and that’s why they want to change it into something else.

So the ‘progressive’ goal of a ‘smoke-free’ world  actually grows out of a hatred of smoke. It starts with hating something.

And the more radically ‘progressive’ you are, the more you hate the world the way it currently is.

And some people seem to hate absolutely everything. It often seems to me, for example, that Greens hate not just all human industry, but also the entire human race.

And I suppose that the opposite of a progressive is a conservative who likes the way the world is, and therefore sees no reason to change it. And an ultra-conservative is someone who loves the way the world, and wouldn’t change anything at all.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been much of a progressive. Because I’ve never much hated the way the world is. I’ve instead always been interested in it. Rather than condemn it, and make plans for what to replace it with, I have instead tended to wonder how it came to be the way it is, and come up with my own explanations.

So when, for example, I got thinking about the ancient institution of slavery, it wasn’t to condemn it, and be glad that it had been swept away by right-minded progressives, but to wonder why it had ever arisen in the first place. And my explanation was that it had arisen in antiquity because the only way back then of living a life of leisure was to force other people to do all the work. And if we don’t have slavery now, it’s not because we’re right-minded progressives, but because much of the burden of work has been passed over to machines – ranging from steam engines through internal combustion engines to electric motors and now computers. But for them, the institution of slavery would still exist. Which it did in the old, pre-industrial US South in about 1850, before it fought and lost a civil war with the newly-industrialised North. It would have maybe saved much blood if the Northern industrialists had invented machines to pick cotton and cut sugar cane, and sold them to their Southern neighbours to free the slaves that worked the cotton fields. But instead, the Northerners were seemingly only liberated by their new machines to become right-minded progressives, and to force their new values upon their Southern kinfolk.

I doubt if many Americans regret the demise of slavery. But progressivism doesn’t always make life better. In the post-WW2 era in Britain, much of the old stock of housing was torn down and replaced by tower blocks. This was another piece of progressivism. And it grew out of a hatred of the old back-to-back ‘slums’. Whether the ‘progressive’ new tower blocks were any better was actually rather doubtful, because they tore up communities and created a perfect environment for muggers in their corridors and walkways and malfunctioning lifts. And so 20 years after they’s been built, the tower blocks started being demolished, and replaced with low-rise housing which looked much like the old back-to-back terraces they’d replaced. The tower blocks might have looked good on the drawing board, but they didn’t work as functioning communities the way their predecessors had.

I think that the wave of smoking bans currently sweeping the world is another piece of dysfunctional progressivism. It may have looked good on the drawing board, and so much cleaner and tidier and healthier than the smoke-filled drinking dens that it set out to sweep away, but  – much like the 50s and 60s tower blocks – it shattered communities and bankrupted tens of thousands of pubs and clubs and cafes, as well as making pariahs of a quarter or more of the population. In short, it didn’t work. It did far more harm than good. And when this finally gets recognised, an attempt will be made to reconstruct the convivial culture that the ‘progressives’ destroyed.

And maybe it is beginning to be recognised that the UK smoking ban was a disaster. UKIP’s Nigel Farage is certainly no fan of the UK smoking ban, and nor is his latest UKIP convert, Douglas Carswell. And as support for UKIP climbs, it would seem that the British people are swinging away from progressivism and towards conservatism. Because UKIP is really just a conservative party, made up of people who liked things the way they used to be (when we were a sovereign state, and controlled our own borders, and people could smoke in pubs, etc, etc.), and who had never really wanted to change everything.

I was never much of a progressive, but these days I seem to be becoming more and more conservative. Because I also liked things the way they used to be (certainly before 1 July 2007), and I never really wanted to change them either. So I vote UKIP now, and will do so for the foreseeable future.

And I’ve always thought the British people are fairly conservative in temperament. And maybe that conservatism is beginning to re-surface. But if so, it’s doing so in a political climate where all the UK mainstream political parties (and the media too) are thoroughly progressivist, including David Cameron’s Conservative party.

But if the British people are swinging conservative, that will force all the ‘progressive’ mainstream parties to (unwillingly) also become more conservative. It’s already beginning to happen in small ways with Cameron’s Conservatives.

But maybe a few of these ‘progressives’ will start to be asked why they always want to change everything, and why they are so full of hate for the world in which they find themselves.

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Old Misery-guts

From Dick Puddlecote’s comments:


It must be a miserable life that is spent trying to stop people doing what they enjoy.

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Ukrainian Confusion

For the past few days there have been many reports that Russian troops are moving into eastern Ukraine. These have been denied by Russia. So I have no idea what the situation actually is. But here is today’s Telegraph:

EU leaders warned Russia’s invasion of east Ukraine was at a “point of no return”, risking a “state of war” with Europe and instructed officials to prepare new sanctions to hit the Russian economy.

A summmit in Brussels on Saturday gave the green light to toughened economic sanctions, targeting Russia’s finances, oligarchs linked to the Russian president and the country’s vast mineral wealth.

Dalia Grybauskaite, Lithuania’s president and a staunch critic of Mr Putin’s Russia, called on the EU to get serious as Russia’s war in the Ukraine menaced peace in Europe for the first time in decades.

“Russia is in a state of war against Ukraine and that is against a country which wants to be part of Europe. Russia is practically in a state of war against Europe,” she said.

Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, said that the EU was prepared for new sanctions against and pleaded with Mr Putin to step back from the brink of outright war between Russia and the Ukraine.


Confirming Europe’s realization just how serious events are, and how far down the rabbit hole Europe’s bureaucrats have gone, French President Francois Hollande, while stressing that a failure by Russia to reverse a flow of weapons and troops into eastern Ukraine would force the bloc to impose new economic measures i.e., nothing new, it is what he said just after that indicated a dramatic change in rhetoric: “Are we going to let the situation worsen, until it leads to war?” Hollande said at a news conference. “Because that’s the risk today. There is no time to waste.”

In the Guardian, Russians start asking: are we at war?

Also in the Telegraph, a Russian political scientist writes:

It seems that either explicitly or subconsciously, all the parties wanted an external enemy or crisis. The West is preparing for a new round of the policy of containment and rejection on the Cold War model. Russia was prepared: results have proved favourable so far and Crimea has been masterfully annexed.

Moscow seems to have decided not to retreat until it achieves its goals. Among them is not just the reunion with Crimea or with other lands, which temporarily strengthens the legitimacy of its power. Its main aim is to end the unfinished Cold War which the West has de facto continued to lead and even to conclude a peace treaty on favourable terms. The minimum aim is to make it impossible or prohibitively costly for the West to further unilaterally expand its influence and control into regions Moscow considers vital to its security.

Mikhail Gorbachev:

“Everything should be done so that the people stop killing each other. After all, this is one people. If states get involved, the scope grows, and everyone meddles there, we might see a horrible slaughter in Europe. But this can’t be allowed,” he said.

And Dmitry Orlov writes about some ‘really basic misconceptions':

1. They would like you to think that there is a Russian invasion in the East of Ukraine. What’s actually happening is a civil war between the government of Western Ukraine (which no longer rules the east in any definable way) and the Russian population of Eastern Ukraine. Ukraine has been falling apart for decades—ever since independence. The eventual break-up was inevitable, but the catalyst for it was the military overthrow of Ukraine’s legitimate government and its replacement with cadres hand-picked in Washington.

Certainly whether Russian troops have or have not invaded Ukraine, European leaders seem to be determined to tell everyone that they have, and are now talking up the likelihood of a European war. Is that really what they want? Maybe it is? It would divert attention away from Europe’s continuing political and economic crisis, and cement the EU together against a common enemy. As I wrote back in February:

About the only thing that the EU empire hasn’t got, it seems, is an army to rival that of Russia. But if Russia chooses to intervene militarily, that could change overnight. There would be loud calls for an EU army ‘peace-keeping force’ to defend newly-won Ukrainian ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’. And what’s to stop the EU Parliament from voting through a Commission recommendation for an emergency draft of EU citizens into a greatly enlarged EU ‘peace-keeping force’ to deter ‘Russian aggression’, with quotas from each EU member state?

Last but not least Russia wants to know what was on the black boxes on flight MH17. I’d been wondering about that too.

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World Hellth Organization

I’m no fan of Clive Bates. He used to run ASH before Deborah Arnott, so he’s an Enemy of Smokers, just like her. But he’s got a surprisingly long string of other offences to his name, including working for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Greenpeace, and the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit.

But occasionally even antis like him get something right. And he’s managed to infuriate the World Health Organisation by publishing a variant of their logo.


Part of WHO’s objection was to a parody of their logo that Bates posted, which (at the time of this writing) he has replaced with a text graphic that reads “Graphic removed at the request of the Legal Counsel of the World Health Organization”. But the characterization of “request” is not exactly correct. In the letter sent to Bates by the WHO (which we have obtained a copy of), they threatened to “refer[] the matter to the relevant authorities in the United Kingdom” (where Bates is based) if he did not comply with removing his content. They asserted that he was “using the name and emblem of the World Health Organization (WHO)…in an unauthorized, misleading and libellous manner”.

That accusation is quite troubling from the perspective of a free exchange of ideas. There are very brief substantive claims about particular statements (see below), but notice that the accusation says that the mere act of using the name of WHO when criticizing WHO is unauthorized, misleading and/or libellous. It boggles the mind that WHO is effectively claiming that no one can criticize them by name.

It doesn’t boggle my mind. These fuckers have a truly monumental sense of their own self-importance. So they’re bound to fly off the handle any time anyone offers even the slightest hint of criticism of them.

And what better way to get up their noses than to reproduce the offending logo? With luck it’ll go viral, and end up plastered all over the internet. (In fact this seems to already have happened.)

And naturally I thought I’d have a go at making a variant logo. This one has a skull impaled upon a large spike, and is the logo of the World Hellth Organisation, so obviously the World Health Organisation can’t ask me to remove it.


Anyway, one good thing about this little saga is that it sees antismokers pitted against antismokers – something that seems to be becoming increasingly common.

Most days this blog gets about 1000 views, and the Black Lung Lie gets less than 100 views. But today the blog got a record 15,000 views, with 13,000 of them of the Black Lung Lie. This happens from time to time.

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Carswell Under the Spotlight

With MP Douglas Carswell’s defection from the Conservatives to UKIP, I was soon wondering what his views might be on the only question that really matters: the smoking ban. From F2C:

Douglas Carswell: Under the Spotlight
Martin Hensman
14th April 2008.

Douglas who? I hear you ask.

In the Mail on Sunday I was astonished to read that a fearless Tory has become the first MP to call for the Speaker to quit .

In a separate article “Speaker Martin must go” printed on page 27 but not available online Douglas Carswell writes:

We need to scrap the ‘gentlemen’s club rules used to run our legislature and make Westminster Politicians more directly accountable to the voters.

Hear. Hear.

He continues:

Increasingly, MP’s are seen as parasitical. It is no longer those we send to Parliament who make the key decisions. The Health Service, Education system and criminal justice system are increasingly run by remote and unaccountable officials.

In order to make our politicians more directly accountable we need not only transparency over MP’s expenses but also how they make laws and hold the Government to account.

Examination of Mr. Carswell’s voting record in Parliament reveals that he voted

100% against the smoking ban
100% against ID cards
100% in favour of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty
100% against ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

In today’s media spun society it is extremely rare to identify a Parliamentarian prepared to speak so openly. In Westminster the values of patriotism, loyalty and honesty appear to have been replaced by arrogance, greed and open public betrayal.

It is reassuring to see that Champions of freedom and democracy have not all been exiled from Westminster. But shouldn’t David Cameron, leader of the opposition, have made these demands of the Speaker?

And from an election leaflet in 2007:

No to Smoking Ban

The ban on smoking in public spaces comes into effect
this year. Although Douglas does not smoke, he feels
that free-born Englishmen and women do not need
central government to manage their lives for them in this

Douglas says “I voted against the ban because I dislike
the nanny state more than I dislike cigarette smoke. It is
wrong for politicians down in London to tell people how
to live every aspect of their lives”

Given this UKIP coup, I read several times today that a vote for UKIP will result in Labour winning the General Election next year. But for a smoker like me it’ll make no difference whether Labour or Conservatives win: life will be just as bad either way.

Douglas Carswell’s defection speech in full.

All three of the older parties seem the same. They’ve swathes of safe seats. They’re run by those who became MPs by working in the offices of MPs. They use pollsters to tell them what to tell us.

Politics to them is about politicians like them. It’s a game of spin and positioning.

First under Tony Blair, then Gordon Brown, now David Cameron, it’s all about the priorities of whichever tiny clique happens to be sitting on the sofa in Downing Street. Different clique, same sofa.

Few are animated by principle or passion. Those that are soon get shuffled out of the way. Many are just in it for themselves. They seek every great office, yet believe in so little.

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E-cig Hysteria

Still on e-cigs, here’s a very relevant comment from Magnetic today:

The amount of time and effort being expended on e-cigs (to their demonization) is quite extraordinary. A flurry of “studies” and a magnifying glass on the few ingredients in e-cigs.

Consider the case of “fire safe” cigarettes (FSC). They’ve been made mandatory in a number of countries. The fire-safe “technology”, involving added glue rings to the paper, increased the chemical load of manufactured cigarettes. There were complaints of immediate symptoms from smoking these cigarettes, e.g., coughing fits, constant phlegm, wheezing, “lung burn”. Given the magnitude of scrutiny on e-gizmos concerning their safety, it could well be asked how much research went into the health effects of this fire-safe design. How much scrutiny did they attract? How much research did Tobacco Control nut cases demand before advocating this design be made mandatory? And how much research has been called for since they became mandatory?

Unlike the very considerable attention now given to e-cigs, there was NO – none, zero, zip, nada – research on the health effects of fire-safe cigarettes, before or after their introduction. It sounded like a great idea to the Tobacco Control folk. So they went right ahead and pushed for them to be made mandatory. Immediate detrimental health effects from these cigarettes? The Tobacco Control folk couldn’t care less….. as has been demonstrated.

Below I’ll post as much as I know of FSC as a reference point.

Magnetic added further comments on FSC here and here.

Still on e-cigs, I also came across this in the Telegraph:

‘I thought my e-cigarette was safe. Turns out, I was smoking the equivalent of 40-a-day’

When Rachael Lloyd took up vaping, she thought she’d stumbled across a miracle alternative to smoking. Little did she know, her ‘friendly’ e-cigarette was actually damaging her health – as the World Health Organisation is now starting to realise…

When my local chemist told me to stop vaping immediately, or risk seriously damaging my health I thought he must be having a mad half hour.

Kindly Mr Patel has always struck me a cautious man. It seemed ridiculous that he was making such a fuss.

I just couldn’t grasp that something as innocuous as an e-cigarette, widely regarded as the safe alternative to real cigarettes – and commonly used by smokers to quit – could do any lasting damage.

Now, I know that he was right all along. The World Health Organisation (WHO) this week recommended that e-cigarettes should be banned indoors, because they emit chemicals potentially as dangerous as cigarettes and have a potential passive smoking risk. Doctors are also calling for more research into the long-term dangers of vaping, which they say may be more dangerous than previously thought.

The author’s rather implausible story was that she had only been an occasional ‘social smoker’ of cigarettes, but had taken enthusiastically to e-cigarettes, even puffing away on them at work, and started spending more and more money on them – until she’d consulted her local chemist, and had quit vaping by using NRT products.

I found it implausible because my local chemist wouldn’t be the first place I’d go for advice. Why should chemists know anything about e-cigs? They don’t sell them. But they do sell competing NRT products. And as such they have a vested interest in getting customers off e-cigs and onto NRT products. Which is exactly what her chemist did.

Secondly, NRT products notoriously don’t work. So it was rather remarkable that they should somehow manage to work a treat with ‘e-cig addiction’.

The entire story simply didn’t ring true. She seemed to believe everything she was told by absolutely anybody. And it had all happened too fast, the transition from occasional cigarette smoker, to e-cig addict, to finally being rescued by her trusty local chemist in what seems to have been about 3 months. So I concluded that it was really just another anti-vaping story planted in the mainstream media in support of the ‘big push’ against e-cigs by the WHO. Because it was an anti-vaping story rather than an anti-smoking story. In fact, one was left with the sense that she’d been better off as a ‘social smoker’ until she’d been sucked into a private hell of e-cig addiction, spiralling downwards in an uncontrollable spending spree (£30 a week!), until the saintly figure of her local chemist rescued her with NRT.

There’s probably good money to be made writing fiction along these lines. But I think there ought to be some romantic interest. And a good car chase. You know the sort of thing.

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Utter Bastards

I think that if people started inhaling air through little white tubes, these bastards would want to ban it.

They’d say that it ‘hadn’t been rigorously tested’, and that there were ‘4,000 chemicals’ in ordinary air, of which 60 or 70 were carcinogenic. And anyway, it looked like smoking. And chiiiiiiildren might see.

So naturally the WHO wants to ban e-cigarettes:

E-cigarettes should be banned indoors over fears that they can be as toxic to bystanders as normal cigarettes, the World Health Organisation has said.

Despite releasing vapour instead of smoke, the devices still pollute the air with harmful chemicals, health experts warned.

Many smokers use e-cigarettes as a way to quit, as they deliver the nicotine hit but without the carcinogens associated with breathing in smoke. There are no laws currently banning their use inside.

But yesterday a report by the WHO questioned the safety of e-cigarettes, officially known as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).

“The fact that ENDS exhaled aerosol contains on average lower levels of toxicants than the emissions from combusted tobacco does not mean that these levels are acceptable to involuntarily exposed bystanders,” said the report.

It’s the same with my exhaled air. That’s full of carbon dioxide and about 3,999 other ‘chemicals’. And you do know that all ‘chemicals’ are bad for you, don’t you? Carbon’s lethal. And dioxide’s even worse.

And there’s also bacteria and viruses and more little creepie-crawlies than you can get on the end of a dead heroin addict’s used syringe.

And bits of cheese from the cheese sandwich I ate an hour ago.

And there’s probably about 4,000 chemicals in regular cheese. And even more in gorgonzola, most likely. The only thing that’s almost certainly pure cheese is Kraft Dairylea triangles. And they totally suck. And get all over your fingers when you open them.

But hey lookee:

Ministers will not ban e-cigarettes indoors in England, despite the World Health Organisation urging governments to do so to combat the threat posed by the growing popularity of vaping.

The Department of Health (DH) made clear that it does not plan to outlaw the use of the increasingly popular gadgets in enclosed public spaces in England, although Wales’s Labour government is considering doing so.

The DH ruled out making e-cigarettes subject to the same “smoke-free” controls that have applied to normal cigarettes since 2007. Smoking is currently banned in pubs, restaurants and workplaces across the UK.

The department did so despite the United Nations’ health agency recommending such prohibition as part of tougher regulation of products it said were dangerous to children.

I wonder how long this bravado will last? I give it 6 months before they knuckle under and ban e-cigs like the WHO says they should. They know who gives the orders, after all. So they’ll make a show of resistance for a while, and then they’ll quietly cave in. They always do.


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