Thinking Geographically

There are 51 million people in England, and of them, something like a quarter are smokers. I wondered this morning how many counties of England they would fill, starting at the top left corner, and working downwards, using online county population figures. This was the result:

Cumbria (494,000), Cumberland (312,000), Tyne and Wear (1,119,000), Durham (511,000), Yorkshire (3,988,000), Lancashire (1,449,000), Greater Manchester (2,629,000) and Merseyside (1,366,000) all added up to almost 12 million people.

That’s what the map of England would look like if smokers all lived in one place together. There’d be whole cities full of them. And all their representatives – councillors and MPs – would all be smokers too. And a quarter of MPs in Westminster would be smokers.

Rising tobacco taxes, imposed by Westminster, would have fallen wholly on the northern counties, and would have been deeply resented.

In such circumstances, would it have been possible to impose a smoking ban on the whole country? No, of course it wouldn’t. Any such suggestion would have been met with furious resistance by smoking MPs representing millions of smokers. If, nevertheless, a complete smoking ban had been pushed through by the remaining MPs, the northern smokers would have refused to implement it. The smoking ban would have only been effective in the south, where nobody smoked. Once you reached Lancashire and Yorkshire, all the pubs would be smoke-filled.

And the political consequences would have been the de facto division of England into two states. The northern Westminster MPs would have returned home, and set up their own parliament in Manchester or somwhere, where their first act would have been to lift the tax on tobacco. England would have been split through the middle.

And the economic consequences would have been the northerners would no longer go south for their holidays, or go shopping in the south or in London, because they were no longer welcome there. But southerners would have been as welcome as ever in the north, to visit the Lake District and so on. Northern pubs and cafes would be as thriving as ever, but in the south they’d lose a significant fraction of their custom. So while the northern economy would grow, the southern economy would shrink.

It’s possible to imagine that the relations between the two states would deteriorate further, when southerners erected barbed wire fences along the border, ostensibly to keep northern smokers out (even though they didn’t want to come south), but actually to prevent southerners going north. Families would have been split, much like with West Germany and East Germany.

Relations would have deteriorated further when the southern Prime Minister referred openly to “stinking, poisonous northern smokers” and northern political leaders responded by calling southerners “brain-washed killjoys”. There would have been a number of border incidents when people tried to escape from the south to the north, or southern snatch squads were sent north to rescue children from smoky schools (where children would be taught to smoke). The southern BBC would have broadcast non-stop antismoking ads to the north, and the north would have responded by broadcasting films like Casablanca to the south.

Eventually, war would probably break out between the two states.

Well, it’s possible to imagine that things like this would happen in such circumstances. And it’s only because smokers are more or less evenly distributed over England that this hasn’t happened.

But it could be said that, even though the actual circumstance is not quite as described above, the outcome actually remains the same. A profound social division has been created, which has in effect divided the country down the middle. And the Westminster parliament has lost authority in the eyes of many smokers. And smokers have stopped spending. But the division is far less visible than it would be if smokers and non-smokers were geographically separated.

There is one principal difference between the two scenarios, and it is that the (imaginary) northern smokers had political representatives who spoke up for them in Westminster, and who continued to represent them in the northern Manchester assembly. But the smokers dispersed across the whole of England have no political representation at all, apart from a handful of Westminster MPs – which is why it’s been easy for antismoking zealots to rob smokers with ever-mounting taxation, and vilify them openly in the process.

This is why it’s become important for scattered smokers to unite and create a political voice for themselves, forming a smokers’ movement. And since the situation in England is being repeated in France and Germany and all over Europe, and indeed all over the world, this must be an international smokers’ movement. And exactly such a movement is now beginning to emerge. And it is set to grow stronger and stronger, as angry smokers all over the world find out about it, and join in.

Yet it’s unlikely that this smokers’ movement will ever acquire ‘normal’ political representation – i.e. MPs or Representatives – in the countries they inhabit, while they continue to remain a minority. So their political activities would most likely remain extra-parliamentary. They would have to exert influence in other ways.

Although it is possible that a sort of smokers’ Israel might emerge, probably in some southern or eastern European countries, to which smokers would flock in their thousands, just like Jews fleeing from Nazi persecution.

History repeats itself. All this has happened before, many times over.

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32 Responses to Thinking Geographically

  1. james101 says:

    The smoking ban wrongly denies twelve million or so smokers any space in any public building for them to smoke, drink, relax and be themselves. David Hockney was right when he said smokers cannot be social; when smoking rooms with ventilation for adults was all that was needed to prevent staff and others from being exposed to ets. It has created a social underclass of people and continues to cause many thousands to be excluded from the social scene; many of whom have also stopped spending as they no longer go out.
    1st July 2007 was the day they took the pub away from so many people. An NHS information centre report even confirmed that one third of smokers stopped going to the pub as a direct result.
    Smokers can stand outside exposed to the cold weather under shelters not meeting animal welfare standards or stay at home. This is persecuting a minority, whether ït be an officially recognised one or not.
    Was 1st July 2007 Black Sunday, the day when England fell to nazi rule? As it was from this day that the deliberate exclusion and persecution of England’s smokers began. This is the only way I can think of describing it.

    • truckerlyn says:

      Smokers can stand outside exposed to the cold weather under shelters not meeting animal welfare standards or stay at home.

      Why should the shelters meet animal welfare standards? After all, we can euthanase an animal that is sick and in pain with no hope of recovery or any quality of life, but we cannot bestow that same compassion on people who themselves want that release from there endless suffering and indiginity! In fact, if we did not do this kindness for our beloved pets, should the need arise, then we face the possibility of ending up in court charged with animal cruelty!

      Just goes to show, as far as governments are concerned we are beneath animals! (Personally however, I believe that animals are ultimately far more intelligent than we humans are!)

  2. harleyrider1978 says:

    Why have smoking rooms when the owners already have a building to smoke in. Thats the point as ETS/SHS is a total joke and they know it yet they keep up the charade. But how long can it last before everyone grows tired of it and as the nanny state grows ever more into everyones lives! Its much easier just to ignore the ban and beat up any healthcare official who dares show their face. If your gonna get put out of business anyway,might as welll let the state feed ya too and give ya a nice bed to sleep on and food to boot! Or ya could just offer up bribes to the shady enforcers at smokefree. I hear they really are getting broke these days. I suspect it shant be to long until the UK needs to shed a few POUNDS from their budget like ASH!

  3. XX And since the situation in England is being repeated in …… Germany XX

    NO it is NOT, and THAT is, (as I have previously explained, and you have not read/chosen to ignore,) the problem.

    It is NOT happening in GERMANY. It is happening in Bayern, Baden Württemberg, and half heartedly in Saarland and Rheinland-Pfalz, plus the odd “Commune” or town/village.

    By far the GREATER proportion of the population of Germany, has remained virtualy totaly uneffected. (The odd yuppie dive have “no smoking”, but as they more or less 100% serve food, then they are not what I would call PUBS.).

    Hospitals provide shelters in the grounds, and no one complains when you stand outside the ward door any way, shelter or no.

    Smoking on railway stations. Never seen any one being stopped by the signs. And as you never have longer than 10 minutes to wait, and at the LONGEST on the Berlin routes, 3/4 hour on the train, then that is also a “no complaints” area.

    Therfore, you are going to find it VERY difficult to find any “takers” North of Rhein/Main.

    It would be good if it where different….except for the fact we would have to have a BUNDES smoking ban to make it so.

    • Frank Davis says:

      NO it is NOT, and THAT is, (as I have previously explained, and you have not read/chosen to ignore,) the problem.

      I haven’t ignored it. I’ve just made a sweeping generalisation.

      What I’ve written doesn’t apply in Holland either, because in Holland Tobacco Control have been experiencing some reverses.

      It’s slightly different everywhere. But, in terms of sweeping generalisations, smoking bans are being imposed (almost) everywhere, more and more.

    • truckerlyn says:

      So, effectively, what you are saying is that there is no ban as such, just some places that choose to be smoke free and everyone else carries on as they always did, despite signs on railway platforms that request no smoking but are not enforced?

      Sorry if I appear a little dim here, but I just wanted to clarify the situation in Germany. I do know that the Germans we meet on holiday in Majorca are totally pi**ed off with not being able to smoke in the hotel, except in their room. I had rather hoped that many might boycott Spain and Majorca as a result and thereby cause the Spanish government to reconsider, as they did with the first ban they implemented, particularly as Spain and Majorca are vey popular with German holiday makers.

      • Ther is no “situation” in Germany. Thats why, at least North of the Rhein/Main line, you will find it virtually impossible to even TALK about “smoking bans”, because ther ISN’T one.

        As I said earlier, Bayern, Baden-Württemberg, and a lot of places South, have got bans. But North, basically, of there, the situation is very similar as it was in the U.K before the total ban.

        A city, or town council, can impose a ban, but VERY few have. Individual lands, Except for those mentioned, have basically told the Bundesregierung (German Government), to go and fuck themselves with their total smoking ban.

        Each pub can make up their own mind, and a good 99% in Berlin, and other places, Hamburg, for example, have voted with their feet, and you will find it virtually impossible to find a pub that is NOT a “smoking Pub”. A few tried, but NONE survived the first 12 months. Either they gave up the smoking ban, made the pub “half and half”, or closed down.

        Therfore, as I said, people here have hardly a CLUE as to what we are all talking about, except for some vague reccolection that they can not smoke in Bayern.

        • truckerlyn says:

          It is absolutely GREAT that somewhere in Europe there is a country that still as the balls to stand up to their government and carry on as normal people. Just a pity that the rest of us have been too cowed to do the same!

          Of course, much of the problems have been due to huge financial penalties on the pub/club owners. As we know one man (Nick Hogan, I believe) did take it all the way and flouted the ban and was imprisoned due to not being able to pay the fines, although smokers chipped in to raise the money for him.

          Spain now has the same problem, but as they are having financial problems as a country the EU have got them over a barrel, I guess, so they have to tow the line now. I believe their financial penalties on bar owners, etc, are even harsher than ours!

          These hugely draconian measures are ruining lives and livliehoods and the government, in their blissful ignorance and being led by the nose as well as being bled dry by likes of ASH et al, are blaming increasing numbers on the dole on the ‘recession’! They can’t even see that the recession is also partly, at least, linked to the smoking ban!

          It is seriously scarey that people so dim are actually running (or should that be ruining) the country!

          Anyway, many thanks for the clarification. It was as I had understood from you previous post, but I can be overly optimistic at times and misunderstand!

        • The COUNTRY hasn’t. PARTS of it have. Those parts containing the most people though. :-)

  4. Scot says:

    Remember, please stop banging on about “1/7/07” as us guinea pigs up here in Jockland had it imposed on 26/3/06, thanks to Labour’s fuckwitted dullard ex-smoker, smokerphobic Gauleiter McConnell and his cohorts Maxwell (SNP) and Kerr.

    Kerr even went as far as to wave a “theatrical prop” cigarette in the Parliament as a riposte to objections from luvvies about smoking on stage!

    You folk south of border had it easy, – ban in July, you’re having a laugh aren’t you?

    Can you imagine being at (or outside) the pub on Sunday the 27th March 2006 in Scotland’s typically dreich weather?

    McConnell has said subsequently the ban was his greatest achievement as FM.

    That’s not saying much is it?

    Like the fucking Poll Tax all over again, mind you it started with the Irish ban and spread like a plague, after all we can’t have different Assemblys / Executives of the UK having differing policies on smoking can we?

    It would be like Frank’s map, and then we can all be ghettoised, and the ASH troops would know where we are and start getting cattle trucks rolling, eh?

    • Frank Davis says:

      I didn’t mention 1 July 2007 this time, but James101 did, so I suppose that you’re addressing him.

      But these dates are important. They are etched in our memories. It’s just that the dates are all different.

      Perhaps we can use this?

      I’ve been looking around for a name for the growing swarm of angry smokers who are beginning to get together and do things. My suggestions have all been shot down so far. But Lecroix’s idea of a ‘legion’ like the French Foreign Legion is interesting. The legion (any legion) takes its name from the Roman legion. And the name of one of the Roman legions that was based in Britain was Legio Secunda Augusta. Which to me reads as the Legion of the Second of August (although it doesn’t actually mean that). So how about if the British/English smokers’ legion is called Legio Primus Julius or Legio I Julius? Then the Scottish legion can be called Legio XXVII Martius. And so on. Maybe, in order to be exact, the English legion would be called Legio I Julius VII, and the Scottish legion would be called Legio XXVII Martius VI. And the same would go for everywhere else. I don’t know the date of the Bayern ban, but it would have it’s own one. The Spanish legion would be (I think) Legio II Januarius XI.

      In this manner the growing worldwide army of angry smokers would be made up of a number of different legions. And they would probably grow to the size of actual Roman legions (6,000 or so) fairly rapidly. But that’s a bit of a way down the track right now.

      • RooBeeDoo says:

        Legion does link the ideas of ‘a swarm’ and ‘an army’, both of which you’ve brought up before. It also means a vast multitude, but it also brings to mind the word ‘decimate’.

      • reinholdfrombavaria says:

        I don’t know the date of the Bayern ban

        Legio I Augustus X reports.

      • lecroixkwdjer says:

        I like the idea. Name would be specific to every country and numbers that refer to dates have powerful emotional value. I see a little problem and that is not everyone is into Latin, but can be overcome. So…

        Legio II Januarius XI, reporting for duty.

      • lecroixkwdjer says:

        “Well, you can also call it the Legion of the 2nd of January 2011. Or in Spanish, legión dos de enero.”

        I thought about that and was about to post that possibility, but then I deleted. I fear Legión dos de enero” may not be liked by some people who smoke in Spain, those more left leaning, because they will inmediately think of “La Legión”, a professional, highly skilled military body today as it was before, but to them one of the arms of “Franquismo”. It’s a touchy feely world out there. But of course many more would welcome the reference. I was unable to decide, so I chose your Legio II Januarius XI. It sounds very cool.

  5. beobrigitte says:

    What a great post, Frank! LOL!!!!!

    You forgot about tourism. There would still be quite a number of “part time smokers”, who have to hide in dark corners. Surely they would love to take weekend breaks! Also, the boycott of improving ventilation systems would not exist, so there would be additional tourists: the non-smokers fed up with PET-bottled water, jogging/gym accidents and empty pubs.

    It would be like Frank’s map, and then we can all be ghettoised, and the ASH troops would know where we are and start getting cattle trucks rolling, eh?

    I seriously doubt ASH’s cattle trucks would go anywhere near the border; lest not forget the especially dangerous 3rd, 4rth, 5th etc. – hand smoke!!! A huge tobacco plant field + some volunteers actively smoking would suffice.
    ASH would consider dropping leaflets with pictures of, e.g. black lungs, in what they would call “Kamikaze” flights over the new prospering Country but probably be deterred doing so by the threat of being carpet bombed with ash tray contents…
    (Actually, I have heard that something like this happened to a Germany’s youngster “politician” in Bavaria following the introduction of the smoking ban. People emptied the contents of their ashtrays on his door step, causing “intolerable distress” to the lad.)

    The more I think about this independent smokers country, the more I like the idea!

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Tobacco fields everywhere itd be the countries number one crop and we would export everywhere around the world legally and illegally.

    • truckerlyn says:

      Better still, why not all smokers, in all countries with smoking bans, move to a FREE country and leave the rest to rot in the ever increasing Nanny States? That is, assuming there is a country left in the world that still has no form of smoking ban!

      Alternatively, if all the serious smokers in the world converged on one country and mob handed just smoked wherever, whenever?

  6. harleyrider1978 says:

    Hats off to Paul Austin who posted this to the smokers club,patnurse will just love this
    Smoking and suicidal behaviours in a sample of US adults with low mood: a retrospective analysis of longitudinal data

    1Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York, USA
    2Département de Pharmacologie, Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière-Assistance publique-Hôpitaux de Paris-Faculté de médicine, Université P.& M. Curie – INSERM U894, Paris, France
    3Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York, USA
    4Center for Administrative Records Research and Applications, U.S. Census Bureau, Maryland, USA
    Correspondence to
    Dr Lirio S Covey;
    Received 17 January 2012
    Accepted 15 May 2012
    Published 8 June 2012
    Objective To investigate whether: (1) smoking predicts suicide-related outcomes (SROs), (2) prior SRO predicts smoking, (3) smoking abstinence affects the risk of SRO and (4) psychiatric comorbidity modifies the relationship between smoking and SRO.

    Design Retrospective analysis of longitudinal data obtained in wave 1 (2001–2002) and wave 2 (2004–2005) of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

    Setting Face-to-face interviews conducted with persons in the community.

    Participants US adults (N=43 093) aged 18 years or older were interviewed in wave 1 and reinterviewed (N=34 653) 3 years later. For the present study, the sample was the subset of persons (N=7352) who at the wave 2 interview reported low mood lasting 2 weeks or more during the past 3 years and were further queried regarding SRO occurring between waves 1 and 2.

    Outcome measures SRO composed of any of the following: (1) want to die, (2) suicidal ideation, (3) suicide attempt, reported at wave 2. Current smoking reported at wave 2.

    Results Current and former smoking in wave 1 predicted increased risk for wave 2 SRO independently of prior SRO, psychiatric history and socio-demographic characteristics measured in wave 1 (adjusted OR (AOR)=1.41, 95% CI 1.28 to 1.55 for current smoking; AOR=1.32, 95% CI 1.21 to 1.43 for former smoking). Prior SRO did not predict current smoking in wave 2. Compared with persistent never-smokers, risk for future SRO was highest among relapsers (AOR=3.42, 95% CI 2.85 to 4.11), next highest among smoking beginners at wave 2 (AOR=1.82, 95% CI 1.51 to 2.19) and lowest among long-term (4+ years) former smokers (AOR=1.22, 95% CI 1.12 to 1.34). Compared with persistent current smokers, risk for SRO was lower among long-term abstainers (p<0.0001) but not among shorter-term abstainers (p=0.26).

    Conclusions Smoking increased the risk of future SRO independently of psychiatric comorbidity. Abstinence of several years duration reduced that risk.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Couldnt be the smoking bans in mental health hospitals ehh!

    • beobrigitte says:

      Surely, this
      cannot be for real!!!

      Question: whose BS detector did not get to the other end of the red field, bending the needle??

      Adults 18 year or over
      – Well, HOW MUCH over 18?
      Are we talking pre-menopausal/menopausal women? Male-menopausal men? Are we talking emotional 18 year olds, either sex?

      -What was each person’s individual diagnosis? “Low mood” can mean about anything.

      – What were the questions asked?

      – what about the individual backgrounds, such as employment, financial worries, partnership worries, and so on? Were all 43 093 people in exactly the same position?

      – what medications did these people receive at the time of the interviews

      – what’s the base line?

      Of a total of 43 093 people, 34 653 were re interviewed 3 years later. In the end, the conclusion was reached on N = 7352, which were the people reporting low mood for 2 weeks or more. These 7352 people were also interviewed between “wave one and two”.

      – N = 7352 ??? I though N = 34 653… WHAT is the number of the total population of the ?state, N was selected from?

      And so on….

      But I am not surprised about such BS anymore. I have just today finished a very informative book.

  7. harleyrider1978 says:

    From slearwig over at the club

    I’ve been copy/pasting the Pro 29 vote count from the “Close Contests” page as the uncounted votes are added. The first column are “Yes” votes. The second column are “No” votes.
    Tell me what you see.

    2,442,538 49.8% 2,460,109 50.2%

    2,459,491 49.8% 2,476,418 50.2%

    2,469,376 49.9% 2,481,795 50.1%

    2,439,222 49.9% 2,452,549 50.1%

    The last entry is not a typo. The last entry is from the current count:

  8. junican says:

    Both sides have lost about 39 000 votes? No explanation?

    I have just had a look at the first site (4.30 pm UK) and these are the figures quoted:

    Tax on Cigarettes for Cancer Research


    NO…… 2,488,935…….50.2%.

  9. Scot says:

    “Legio XXVII Martius VI” I like that Frank, has a ring to it!

  10. harleyrider1978 says:

    Faber: ‘100% Chance’ of Global Recession
    Thursday, 21 May 2012 04:15 PM
    By Newsmax Wires
    More ways to share… Mixx Stumbled LinkedIn Vine Buzzflash Reddit Delicious Newstrust Technocrati Share: More . . . A A | Email Us | Print | Forward Article Tweet26
    inShare TweetinShare26 Investors need to prepare for a global recession.

    That’s the takeaway from one well-respected economist after his recent appearance on CNBC’s Fast Money Halftime Report.

    According to Marc Faber, the author of the Gloom, Boom, and Doom Report, a global recession is all but a certainty later this year or in early 2013.

    When he was asked what sort of odds he put on a global recession happening, the economist famous for his ominous predictions quickly answered:


    Faber’s pessimism during his recent appearance on CNBC wasn’t surprising for a man whose nickname is “Doctor Doom.”

    What was surprising was his level of certainty that a global recession was coming.

    Faber stated that there is a “meaningful slowdown in India and China” that many investors are missing due to the media’s focus on Greece and Spain.

    He is also worried that the wealthy may be showing signs of spending fatigue after Tiffany’s reported slowing sales.

    “There are more and more stocks that are breaking down — economic sensitive stocks and companies that cater to the high end. That suggests to me the economy is likely to weaken and the huge asset run is likely to come to an end with significant asset deflation.”

    While it is worrisome that Faber’s odds of a global recession are “100%,” it is hardly as alarming as the scenario laid out by another economist.

    Without appearing on CNBC or being known by a scary nickname, Robert Wiedemer did what Marc Faber couldn’t: He accurately predicted the economic collapse that almost sunk the United States.

    In 2006, Wiedemer and a team of economists foresaw the coming collapse of the U.S. housing market, equity markets, private debt, and consumer spending, and published their findings in the book America’s Bubble Economy.

    But Wiedemer’s outlook for the U.S. economy today makes “Doctor Doom” sound like Mr. Rogers.

    Where Faber sees a global recession, Wiedemer sees much more widespread economic destruction.

    In a recent interview for his newest book Aftershock, Wiedemer says, “The data is clear, 50% unemployment, a 90% stock market drop, and 100% annual inflation . . . starting in 2012.”

    Editor’s Note: See the disturbing interview with Wiedemer.

    When the host questioned such wild claims, Wiedemer unapologetically displayed shocking charts backing up his allegations, and then ended his argument with, “You see, the medicine will become the poison.”

    The interview has become a wake-up call for those unprepared (or unwilling) to acknowledge an ugly truth: The country’s financial “rescue” devised in Washington has failed miserably.

    Shocking Footage: See the eerie chart that exposes the ‘unthinkable.’

    But it’s not just the grim predictions that are causing the sensation; rather, it’s the comprehensive blueprint for economic survival that’s really commanding global attention.

    The interview offers realistic, step-by-step solutions that the average hard-working American can easily follow.

    The overwhelming amount of feedback to publicize the interview, initially screened for a private audience, came with consequences as various online networks repeatedly shut it down and affiliates refused to house the content. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and former Fed chief Alan Greenspan were not about to support Wiedemer publicly, nor were the mainstream media.

    “People were sitting up and taking notice, and they begged us to make the interview public so they could easily share it,” said Newsmax Financial Publisher Aaron DeHoog, “but unfortunately, it kept getting pulled.”

    “Our real concern,” DeHoog added, “is what if only half of Wiedemer’s predictions come true? That’s a scary thought for sure.

    But we want the average American to be prepared, and that is why we will continue to push this video to as many outlets as we can. We want the word to spread.

    Read more: Faber: ‘100% Chance’ of Global Recession

  11. harleyrider1978 says:

    This should send the nazis into meltdown

    Tax prompts Utah smokers to buy in Idaho, Wyo.
    A recent dollar-a-pack tax hike on cigarettes has many Utah smokers traveling out of state to buy.

    The Salt Lake Tribune reports $4 million in cigarette tax revenue has shifted to Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming and Colorado this fiscal year.

    Cigarette taxes in Utah are the 16th-highest in the nation at $1.70 a pack. They were raised $1 in 2010. Similar taxes are 57 cents a pack in Idaho, 60 cents in Wyoming, 80 cents in Nevada and 84 cents in Colorado. Among neighboring states only Arizona has higher taxes than Utah at $2 a pack.

    State analysts say revenues also are lower because more Utah residents have stopped smoking.

    The state’s transportation fund also may fall $20 million below projections as Utah residents buy more fuel-efficient cars.

  12. Marvin says:

    A very good imaginative post Frank, but without realising it, you’ve just described the history of Rugby League in England, when all the northern towns and cities split away from the National RFU, so that they could pay their players, wages for the time they lost at work.
    The RFU did everything they could to cripple the breakaway sport, by not recognising its officials and barring union players for life, if they dared to make the switch.
    Still, they were not as bad as their French counterparts, in Nazi occupied France the Vichey government made the “game of 13” illegal, stole their stadiums and gave them to their union chums. Although no longer illegal, the game in France still hasn’t fully recovered and is confined to the Perpignan, Toulouse region.
    It’s 100 years since the split in England, but the resentment towards Rugby Unions’ authorities is still palpable to this day.
    I can imagine it being the same if all smokers occupied the northern counties.

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