Councillor Bartlett Finally Answers The Phone

I’ve just been listening live to the Talksport discussion of the proposed outdoor ban in Stony Stratford (I think there’s a listen again option). It ran for about an hour or so from 10 pm, and in the introduction the show’s host came out very strongly against the ban, saying that this wasn’t about health, but about freedom of choice, and it was the thin end of the wedge. He said that Paul Bartlett, the councillor who’s calling for the ban, would be speaking shortly.

And we waited. And we waited. And Paul Bartlett did not come on air. And the host said that he’d agreed to come on air, and they were ringing his number, but there was no reply. “Paul Bartlett, are you there?” he asked.

With no sign of Bartlett, he spoke instead to our very own Dick Puddlecote, who spoke in a very measured and reasonable way, saying that it was a step too far, and even quite a few non-smokers had had enough of the way smokers were being treated, and one was even coming up with him to Stony Stratford on Saturday.

I suspect that, in the absence of Bartlett, DP had a better opportunity to say what he wanted to than he would otherwise.

A few callers came on air, and (initially) none of them thought that an outdoor ban was a good idea. The general response seemed to be that there were plenty of other things that councils needed to do.

Meanwhile Bartlett still hadn’t showed, and it looked like he wasn’t going to, but finally at 10:50 pm he came on. And the first thing he said was,

“Nobody’s come on air and said what’s good about smoking.”

(Update: H/T Man Widdicombe, his exact words were: “The interesting point about the emails and the texts you had is that not one person has said why smoking is good for you.”)

And then went on to say that it wasn’t just about litter, but about health and disease. Asked whether the council would vote for the ban next Tuesday, he became evasive. Asked whether he’d spoken to other councillors, he said he’d been in contact with some of them over the past couple of weeks, and said he’d had one or two replies, but didn’t say whether they were supportive or not.

Later on, a few callers came on to say they agreed with Bartlett, but didn’t think he was doing his cause much good.

In retrospect, given what Bartlett first said, I can only suppose that he’d been sitting listening to the show, and not answering his phone. Because how else did he know that nobody had come on air to say anything good about smoking?

As I saw it, Bartlett has proved to be a great example of an obsessive antismoker. Someone was saying in the comments here earlier that Deborah Arnott comes over as very calm and measured. By contrast, Bartlett comes over as a complete nutter. I hope that he’s been heard by millions all over Britain, because he’s a great example of antismoker insanity. And I suspect that having him on air does an awful lot of damage to the antismoking cause. Apart from an initial word of support from Amanda Sandford,  the professionals who would normally be everywhere are nowhere to be seen, leaving Bartlett crashing around like a bull in their china shop.

Not that I think Deborah Arnott or Amanda Sandford are actually any less crazy than Bartlett. I just think they don’t show it.

Another interesting thing was how a couple of the callers said that they thought the current smoking ban went too far as well, never mind Bartlett’s proposal. Why couldn’t there be smoking rooms, or better ventilation?

Anyway, more or less singlehandedly, councillor Bartlett has managed to create enough of a furore to have the villagers of Stony Stratford filling out four petitions, and getting people like me coming from all over the country (and even from Russia), as well as UKIP leader Nigel Farage. It’s all set to be a bloody defeat for Tobacco Control.

P.S. Thanks for all your helpful suggestions for my placard. They were very useful. As a result, I’ve now pretty much settled on THE FIGHTBACK STARTS HERE and ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. If nothing else, it might come in handy at another demo,  say, against hospital or school closures or something. It’ll be a General Purpose Placard.

P.P.S. I listened to the show live, and if I knew how to do it, I’d have recorded his exchanges with the show’s host, and produced a transcript of it. Because it’s not that often that one of the complete antismoking nutters gets heard on radio. I think it’s pure gold. And that Tobacco Control will be working hard to make sure he gets swept under the carpet and forgotten. And you absolutely must read Leg-iron’s hilarious comment about him.


About Frank Davis

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36 Responses to Councillor Bartlett Finally Answers The Phone

  1. flyingwarpigs2 says:

    Can I share this, in it’s entirety, please, Frank?

  2. “In retrospect, given what Bartlett first said, I can only suppose that he’d been sitting listening to the show, and not answering his phone. Because how else did he know that nobody had come on air to say anything good about smoking?”

    Excellent catch. Make sure the host caught it too: what an extreme example of simple common rudeness after he’d agreed to be on. The station should make clear that they will NEVER invite him on to express his views on ANYTHING in the future: if he wants to get on he’ll have to call the general number and queue up with everyone else.

    I dunno about Arnott not coming across as a nutter though. Come on, cigarette taxes have nothing to do with the black market? There are probably kids out there who still believe in the tooth fairy but who know better than that!

    – MJM

    • JJ says:

      “The station should make clear that they will NEVER invite him on to express his views on ANYTHING in the future:”

      I disagree Michael, I would take every opportunity to invite him on to talk about the smoking ban issue. He would single-handedly demolish all the things that ASH et al are trying to achieve. In fact…if this ludicrous frothing arse on a stick were to appear on national television fulminating incoherently – he would be responsible for repealing the ban in a month.

      • LOL!!! Good point JJ!!! Actually I’ve always counseled people in a similar vein when they get pissed off at the more obnoxious Anti posters online. It’s a GOOD thing for their dirty underwear to fly in public.

        – MJM

  3. Curmudgeon says:

    I am, as you know,a non-smoker.

    But why should anyone have to say there is “anything good” about smoking?

    Surely the only good people need to demonstrate is that they enjoy it.

    Just as I enjoy drinking beer.

    And what is “good” about non-procreative sex, except that people enjoy it?

  4. flyingwarpigs2 says:

    Thanks, Frank. There were callers, after Bartlett, that supported his vague ramblings. They suggested “special” areas for smokers. Probably with pretty yellow stars and words written in Germanic fonts on, just to make sure we feel extra “special”.

  5. smokervoter says:

    My hat is off to your fine country for what you are doing at Stony Stratford this Saturday. We Yanks like to harbor romantic images of ourselves as rebellious freemen valiantly spreading liberty around the globe. But when they banned outdoor smoking in the Los Angeles, California suburb of Calabasas five years ago, there was nary a peep out of anyone. The law even went so far as to fine and imprison anyone who failed to snitch out a fellow smoking citizen to the local Stasi.

    I did a little search on “Calabasas” and “protest” just to find out if maybe I’d missed some news: the results were null, but interesting nonetheless.

    Smokers Club did manage to get 100 people to sign a boycott against the cities’ goods and services. A few people once turned out to protest actor Will Smith’s Scientology school project there. There was also a small labor protest at the set of “The Biggest Loser” awhile back.

    It really got interesting though when I came across an angry, dissenting blog ‘protesting’ the authoritarian manner of the ex-mayor Barry Groveman, who originally pushed for the ordinance. He’s upset a lot of people there and is widely disliked. He pushed through an ordinance that allowed the building department to barge onto residents property in search of septic tank violations. There’s a pattern developing here with this guy. First, he goes after the smell of tobacco and then…

    Wait, it gets worse. He also pushed a law through that made it illegal to change a faucet in the house or change an electrical outlet without a permit, again with the right to inspect for violations without the homeowners permission.

    Here’s a quote from the Listen Calabasas blog:

    “People have been subjected to witch hunts in search of violations, and some pushed out of their homes by the City, which cut off water and power to their properties. All of this must stop.”

    He recently stepped down from his seat on the council, much to the relief of quite a few Calabasans. He sounds like a complete and utter asshole. Might even surpass Paul Bartlett.

    I once actually spent a week in this toney, suburban pumpkin patch (that’s an Espanol joke) outside of Los Angeles. I did some carpentry work on a school building there (before the smoking ban) and, get this, smoked the entire time on campus.

    I’m getting a real kick out of all of your’ wild west imagery of the coming showdown. I have no idea of what Stony Stratford looks like, but let me tell you, Calabasas is geographically straight out of a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western. I hope after you’ve made your point and bad guy Bartlett lays prone in the dust, that you squint Eastwood-style, relight your stubby cigarillo and ride off into the sunset triumphant.

  6. Gary K. says:

    ““Nobody’s come on air and said what’s good about smoking.”

    Wellll; there is this. smoking is a ‘PLEASURE’ and smoking is legal!!!!

    Yup, smoking is a legal pleasure and Curmudgeon is totally correct!!!

  7. Leg-iron says:

    Sympathy for the poor man Bartlett. He gets this ringing in his ears sometimes. Ringing, ringing, ringing. And it won’t stop unless he picks up the plastic thing on the table.

    But then the Voices start talking again…

    Another thing that was noticeable is that nobody came on air to say what was good about Councillor Bartlett. Therefore he should be banned from all public places at once.

    His logic, after all.

  8. harleyrider1978 says:

    Frank I like going for the Juglar on these NAZIS…..


  9. Jax says:

    I definitely think that the tide is turning, or maybe has already turned. Slightly off topic (though linked), I was listening to LBC in the early hours of yesterday morning and the topic under discussion was about the latest furore over the phone hacking, with connected discussions about media companies generally and whether they have too much influence over government policy etc. Nothing, ostensibly, about smoking at all. However (fortunately as it turned out) some rabid, swivel-eyed anti managed to get onto the programme and by torturing the subject matter sufficiently (mainly by including some conspiracy-type links about Big Business generally) got around to talking about cigarette (and alcohol) displays in supermarkets.

    To be honest, the presenter let him go on ranting for far, far too long – most callers about anything on that late-night slot are pretty strictly limited to not much more than three minutes, and are fairly swiftly cut off with a “thanks for your call, Jim” if they are clearly straying off-topic, whereas this chap batted on for a good ten minutes or more – but what was interesting was that the presenter (a non-smoker who, although not a dyed-in-the-wool anti has generally in the past been a bit pro-ban) really took issue with him, talking about individual choice, freedom, personal responsibility, market forces etc and challenging him very directly on statements like “smoking costs the NHS money” by quoting the vast excess of revenue collected from tobacco over the health costs (forcing him to resort to some rather weak back-pedalling like “Of course I wasn’t just talking about financial costs”) and ending by challenging this caller to (and I quote) “tie all of these supermarket-based points together with a string which connects them to what we were originally talking about” which, as might be anticipated, the caller was totally flummoxed by (because the truth is there wasn’t any connection in the first place).

    It was a very polite but effective way for the presenter to highlight that his caller was in fact just someone with a one-eyed personal preoccupation with something (in this case smoking) who was completely incapable of conducting a conversation about anything else at all without shoehorning his favourite hobby-horse in. And as such, it illustrated how even mildly ban-supporting non-smokers these days are getting a bit fed up with everything in the whole world being linked, no matter how tenuously, with Big Tobacco, cigarette sales or smoking generally.

    The reason that I mention this is because I definitely think that with the exception of a few big-cheese antis such as Arnott and Sandford who are still clinging to the anti-smoking bandwagon by their fingernails, most of the big, useful movers and shakers in the Social Control movement have moved (or are moving) onto more plentiful picking grounds like alcohol or obesity, leaving just the devotedly frothy-mouthed zealots (like Bartlett and the caller yesterday) as the only ones who will still speak up on behalf of anti-smoking any more. Which is good, because it illustrates the kind of people who have been behind the anti-smoking movement from the outset – which isn’t pretty and which isn’t going to win them any support for their cause, in fact, quite the opposite, as yesterday’s programme illustrated. And I think the likes of ASH know this, which is why the likes of Bartlett have been so visibly isolated in their latest anti-smoking proposals. They are, quite simply, the last people that Arnott/Sanford want to be associated with, but unfortunately for them, they are all they now have left. And they know it.

    Long may it continue!

    PS: The new style comments function is a right pain. What’s happened to “preview” and the html tags for italics and bold etc??!

    • Frank Davis says:

      I thought it was interesting how strongly the show’s presenter was against the outdoor ban. He was almost daring his listeners to disagree with him

      I’m not sure what that means. I don’t listen to TalkSport too much.

      As the blog author, it seems I have special privileges in the commenting area. So I’m a bit insulated from what other people experience. But I’ve had the impression, all the same, that WordPress are screwing around with the comments: The Reply/Publish button was sitting right in the middle of the text area a couple of days back.

  10. Junican says:

    Right at the end, they seemed to start talking about how awful smoking is. But I wonder how much they are obliged to be ‘balanced’?

  11. Walt says:

    If Arnott is an ex-smoker, someone in a debate might (politely) ask her how many people she estimates she’s killed or injured with her secondhand smoke and whether it keeps her awake at night.

    • Fredrik Eich says:

      Walt, I am sure Martin Dockrell of ASH UK has spent many a pleasant time smoking in enclosed public places such as Pubs and Restaurants and yet he is prepared to deny millions the same simple rights. But it seems to me to be a professional anti-smoker it helps to be a quitter and to be a professional pro-smoker it helps to have never smoked in the first place. Yet more discrimination against smokers!!!

    • JJ says:

      Excellent question Walt…and keep pressing her how many she thinks she may have killed through ‘passive smoking’

  12. Geo says:

    Walt, Arnott does indeed claim to be an ex-smoker.

  13. I’ve recorded the two segments and uploaded them to Soundcloud for those who missed the original show or can’t get the replay –

  14. Mr A says:

    Just listened to the playback on ManWiddicombe – I was surprised at how the presenter was seemingly very much on our side. Rare to see on the MSM. Also interesting that the one guy mis-quoted the “First they came for the Jews” thing,but he actually used the “smokers, drinkers” analogy that is often posted on the blogs, rather than the original. I don’t think that was deliberate. It just goes to show how far things have gone that people automatically reach for the “smokers” version rather than the original…..

    • Frank Davis says:

      I too thought it was quite remarkable that the presenter was so strongly opposed. And I noticed the misquotation of “First they came for…” I think that was by the co-presenter.

  15. Frank says:

    “Rare to see on the MSM.”

    It’s happening more often on Independent Radio. It’s yet to happen on the Beeb. The Press is beginning to notice more as well. Maybe they’re slowly realising the size of the cat coming out of the bag.

    Bright, aren’t they?

  16. Pingback: Bun fight at the OK tea rooms » Anonymong

  17. Ed says:

    Paul Bartlett is the thin end of the wedge in the Anti-Smoking plan.

    Have a look at the ASH and ASH Scotland websites and look at the Partnerships they have set up.

    The Government wouldn’t touch the setting up of outdoor smokefree areas with a bargepole yet the BIG Society Plan will allow Councils to take this action. The Anti-Smoking lobby is probably behind Bartlett’s idea, he is after all a “Public Governor” of the local Health Trust.

    This insidious infiltration of local organisations by the Anti-Smoking lobby (ASH,ASH Scotland,CRUK,BMA ) etc and their brainwashing tactics must be stopped.


  18. Rose says:

    You know, I’m beginning to feel like I’m missing the gathering of the century tomorrow.

    I wish Good luck, fine weather, and success to you all.

  19. Mr A says:

    I have a lot to do tomorrow and wasn’t go to go. Then I read that Wales are planning to ban smoking in cars with cheeeeldren as it’s “the next logical step.”


    See you all there.

  20. TheBigYin says:

    I thought the co presenter was a bit lacking in general education, the misquote I understood, but didn’t like how he said it, but his quip about Dick Puddlecote being a made up couple of words showed that he does not no any history or if Dick Puddlecote was a real person.
    That aside the show and it’s presenter, Duncan Barkes, was slanted against the the anti smoking fraternity which gladdened my heart somewhat as I usually hear the opposite because the anti smoking professionals get all the air time.
    As usual Frank you keep a cool head (well sometimes) when talking about the subject of anti smoking zealots and are very observant when talking about the subject. I rush things and miss some salient points through my annoyance at them, the anti smokers.
    Have a good day tomorrow and your placards are just fine and dandy, as it were.

  21. nisakiman says:

    I got the impression that there was a degree of orchestration , perhaps someone from ASH advising, realising that Bartlett was such a twat that he’d probably fuck up badly in a debate with DP.

    “Don’t answer the phone – wait until Puddlecote has had his say, and then we’ll tell you how to respond. We’ll also get a bunch of minions to call in and support you…”

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