Is There Honour Among Thieves?

Over the past two weeks or so, the smoking-libertarian blogosphere has been in ferment about councillor Paul Bartlett’s proposal to ban smoking in all public spaces in Stony Stratford.

The initial response of Dick Puddlecote and Leg-iron and others seemed to be one of saying: Go ahead and do it! But since then things seem to have evolved with remarkable speed, and DP is now the principal organiser of a meeting in the Vaults in Stony Stratford on 16 July (11am onwards) at which a variety of speakers are booked to speak, and with growing numbers of people (including myself) promising to attend.

Meanwhile, Councillor Bartlett has been appearing on TV and on radio, quite often with a Member of Parliament batting for the other side. And – correct me if I’m wrong – it always seems to be Paul Bartlett and Paul Bartlett alone who is doing all the talking. No other councillor seems to have stepped up to support him, nor any MP, nor indeed any of the professional antismokers (like Deborah Arnott). It’s all getting very one-sided. And Paul Bartlett might soon be complaining that it’s the World v. Paul Bartlett.

Why is this? Why hasn’t Deborah Arnott or Amanda Sandford or any other antismoker stepped up to the plate to bat alongside the plucky Bartlett?

Or are they furiously organising their own counter-demonstration at another pub further down the High Street in Stony Stratford, with their own balloons and placards and speakers, with the 16th of July all set to become a Gunfight at the OK Corral between the rival factions? If they are organising, I’ve certainly heard nothing about it.

Why this asymmetry?

The simple answer would seem to be that the smokers and smoking ban protestors who are converging on Stony Stratford next week belong to a spontaneous grassroot protest movement. And the antismokers belong to professional lobbying organisations under the umbrella of governments, the WHO, the RCP, and so on. There’s no grassroot antismoking movement. There’s just Paul Bartlett, all on his own.

It is as if the smokers have lots of troops, but no generals. And the antismokers have lots of generals, but no troops. People like Deborah Arnott and Amanda Sandford and all the rest of the crew consist of lobbyists and strategists and researchers who spend their time on TV or radio or talking to MPs and ministers and health officers. They’re not going to march on the streets. That’s not their job.

All the same, if Deborah Arnott isn’t going to be at Stony Stratford next week, why isn’t she on TV and radio supporting Paul Bartlett and calling for a counter-demonstration? Can’t she at least do that? After all, it’s not as if she disagrees with Bartlett. She’s been working hard for years to get smoking banned everywhere she possibly can.

As it stands right now it looks like the Shoot-Out at Stony Stratford is going to be a very one-sided affair, and that as Dick Puddlecote stalks down main street with his nervous side-kicks fanned out around him, cigarettes primed, there will be nobody to face them.  There’ll be no posse of law men coming in the opposite direction, calling for them to lay down their cigarettes and quit smoking. There maybe won’t even be Paul Bartlett.

So you have to ask: is there honour among thieves? For thieves they are who have stolen from so many people the right to be able to smoke in pubs, and who now want to steal yet more. Are they just going to let Paul Bartlett hang out to dry? Are they going to leave him dying alone out on main street, bleeding from multiple secondhand smoke wounds?

We’ll find out next week.

About Frank Davis

smoker
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18 Responses to Is There Honour Among Thieves?

  1. Mr A says:

    I think they’ve abandoned Bartlett partly because of the outcry – both smokers and non-smokers now seem to be saying, “Enough!”, with many a critical comment appearing in the usual Ban-supporting MSM. In addition, Bartlett is clearly a raving loon, a bully with daddy issues who is clearly utterly deranged. Now admittedly, most anti-smokers are like this. However, most of them have enough self-awareness to at least try and appear to be sane as they have found that is is easier to persuade gullible MPs etc if you at least pretend to be concerned about heath. Bartlett on the other hand is just a nasty, spiteful, vindictive nutjob – hearing him on the radio the other day you could almost hear the flecks of foam coming from his mouth – God knows what he would have looked like if we could have seen him. Even the ASHites know he is not beneficial to their cause – he too obviously symbolises the psychological flaws inherent in the Tobacco Control movement, flaws they desperately try to keep hidden.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I’m not privy to the thoughts of Deborah Arnott on the matter, so I don’t know what she thinks about Bartlett, or even whether she thinks anything at all.

      But, leaving the antismoking professionals aside for a moment, why don’t there seem to be any antismokers in Stony Stratford who are prepared to back him up? If there’s one foam-flecked nut like him there, aren’t there a few more?

      It seems to me that it really all goes to show that there isn’t a grassroot antismoking movement, and that all the claimed support for smoking bans is actually non-existent.

      • Paul says:

        The anti-smoking industry might leave him out to dry and the media will make you look like a bunch of obsessive smokers out of touch with reality. Just watch the media coverage. I can see this coming.

        Best of luck to you all on the day though. :-)

  2. flyingwarpigs2 says:

    Would you want to be associated with someone who thinks, that being photographed like this: http://flyingwarpigs.blogspot.com/2011/07/always-on-my-mind_10.html is cool?

  3. Mr A says:

    Frank, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. In twenty years of working in a variety of jobs, going out in a variety of venues and living all over this country (and in a few others besides) I have never met even one anti-smoker in the real world. Not one. ALL of my contact with them comes from online. Considering that their very own Manuals (which they are dumb enough to post online) advocate setting up multiple accounts to make it seem as if there is “a groundswell of public opinion” then no, I really don’t think there are that many of them. And bear in mind that these are the ones in Tobacco Control who get paid for their efforts and for whom being “an anti” is a 9 to 5 job. Oh, there are a few undoubtedly, but they are the sort who would happily pick on any “denormalised” minority group, just because it helps assuage their feelings of inferiority and it lets them vent their bile. And, like racists, homophobes and anti-Semites they know they’re wrong, which is perhaps why you never do meet them in the real world – they may have their vile hatreds but they don’t express them in the full glare of Society….. unless they feel they are in the majority. Like all hate-mongers they have a natural home on the Internet; even THEY know their opinions are actually unpleasant and extreme so they prefer to hide behind anonymous postings (and yes, I am aware of the irony! ;).

    Cue: Bartlett. You can just tell from looking at him what a truly odious little shit he is. He’s one who is so socially unaware that he openly spouts his bile while 99.999% of the population wince. Of course, the main question is – is he just a Council jobsworth or did he ever actually receive votes for his position? If the latter, the blogosphere should hang around and wait for when he is running for re-election…..

    • churchmouse says:

      Count yourself lucky, Mr A. I’ve met plenty of anti-smokers, from the 1970s to the present day: two employers, many colleagues, parents of friends and university classmates. Add to that strangers on the streets in London (from south of the river to the West End) calling me no end of foul names just for smoking a cigarette in silence and minding my own business in a well-mannered way — no smoke blowing in their direction, no litter.

  4. Paul says:

    If you want to meet anti-smokers, I suggest taking a look at the General Discussion forum at Digital Spy, which can be found here. It’s probably the largest discussion forum in the UK so that’s where they’ll all be. The treatment of smokers, alcoholics, and fatties comes up there often, so you should have a lot of fun there if you’re of the right mind.

  5. I think that you smokers stink. How can you feel good whilst killing all the cheeldren? You should all be hung from lamp posts until you die a wheezing horrible death.

    Just kidding. But that’s what some commenters on various sites do actually believe.

  6. db says:

    I read somewhere that Amanda Sandford welcomed this mad scheme but can’t remember where exactly. Bartlett is busy making his own noose, so I’m surprised anyone from ASH want’s to be associated with someone who is clearly a thick nutter (even by their standards). Mind you, Sandford seems to be losing the plot a bit….

  7. Rose says:

    “Amanda Sandford, spokeswoman for Action on Smoking and Health, today praised the proposed ban.

    She said: ‘More local authorities are adding to and extending the indoor smoking ban to playgrounds and we fully endorse anything that protects children from smoke.

    ‘Passive smoking is very unpleasant and we are already seeing the health benefits of the indoors ban with a fall in heart and lung disease.

    ‘An unintended consequence of the indoor smoking ban is that more smokers are on the streets dropping litter and this ban would prevent that.

    ‘We have heard of councils banning smoking on play parks and beaches but this would be the first blanket ban on smoking in Britain.’
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2009426/Town-Stony-Stratford-ban-smoking-public-following-New-Yorks-lead.html

  8. db says:

    If this succeeds, the flood gates would open. Smoking bans epitomise how our freedoms are being eroded. The Big Society bullshite will empower local authorities to pass money generating draconian bye laws on an unprecedented scale. How long will it take for the sheeples to wake up?

  9. Curmudgeon says:

    There was a worrying report in the Torygraph this morning about the Big Society giving “local communities” the opportunity to pass all sorts of bonkers bylaws. No doubt localised smoking bans would be high on the agenda.

    • churchmouse says:

      Yep, local is the way forward. All ASH and Co. have to do now is say, ‘See, Stony Stratford did it, so can you.’ Best of luck to DP and the gang on July 16. Wish I could be there.

  10. Junican says:

    @ Curmudgeon.

    Yes, I saw that too, and thought the same thoughts as you. There was also talk of local referenda. But that idea makes little sense. For example, let us suppose that a Parish Council holds a referendum asking local villagers if they approve of local burglars being hung, and 90% approve? The powers-that-be will say, “Ah, but that will not be a matter upon which local people can decide”. Fine, but what massive Government Quango is going to decide, in detail, what matters can be decided by local referenda? And, of the greatest importance, why should a majority be allowed to persecute a minority? Further, so a Parish Council is going to forbid an out-of-town branch of TESCO in their locality because the residents don’t like the idea?

    The whole idea is bunkum.

  11. flyingwarpigs2 says:

    Anyone thought of asking Tesco what they thought of the picture? It looks like it was taken in one of their car parks. (and not in Stony Stratford, if memory serves) Big society? Who gave Dave permission to alter the rules? Me a nervous side kick? Not on your Nelly.

  12. Rose says:

    I’d love to play the nervous sidekick, but instead I will be taking on the somewhat out of character role of Mother of the Groom.

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