I was a bit surprised that the Queen’s Speech made no mention of so-called “plain packaging”.
Perhaps it had something to do with this:
Rebel Conservative MPs have accused their own party of running a nanny state Government over plans to bring in plain packaging for tobacco.
With the proposals subject to a ‘short, final’ consultation announced by health minister Jane Ellison in April, MPs are asking retailers to get involved in their campaign.
As many as 50 Conservative backbenchers are understood to be against plain tobacco packaging, including Shipley MP Philip Davies, who advised retailers to tell their MP they would not vote for anyone supporting the proposals.
He told Retail Express: “It’s a complete triumph for the nanny state and it’s completely ridiculous. It won’t make any difference at all to smoking levels.
“The minister is a complete prisoner of ASH and does whatever it says she should do. We’ve already got a display ban so what need is there for plain packaging as well? Whoever proposed plain packaging has obviously never worked on a cigarette kiosk before.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative MP for North East Somerset, said: “The evidence simply isn’t there. The Government has drawn a conclusion based on uncertain studies and that seems a weak basis for an argument.
“Without branding people may be inclined to buy illicit cigarettes from under the counter. With plain packaging you increase the risk to the consumer, you damage business and you fail to treat people like responsible adults.”
And tomorrow is the Newark by-election, which the Conservatives look set to win, unfortunately:
David Cameron is on course to easily win the Newark byelection on Thursday, according to a new poll.
A survey by Conservative peer and pollster Lord Ashcroft puts the Tories on 42 per cent, 15 points ahead of second-placed Ukip on 27 per cent – with Labour trailing in third on 20 per cent.
The results emerged as the Prime Minister visited Newark for a fourth time in the campaign, telling voters he understood ‘temptations’ to vote for other parties.
The UKIP vote looks set to be strong, perhaps because their candidate is Roger Helmer (below), who is also one of the region’s MEPs, and who quit the Conservative party for UKIP in 2012.
Speaking of packaging, Roger Helmer was, rather interestingly, the only other national politician than Nigel Farage to show up at Stony Stratford in 2011. While most people were wearing jeans, he arrived impeccably (but slightly incongruously) dressed in tweed plus-fours. He gave a little speech in which he said that he didn’t smoke, but if a street smoking ban was introduced, he’d be marching on the streets beside us.
Which set me wondering whether he would arrive at the march wearing plus-fours, with a walking stick and a Labrador.
Dwelling on it again years later, I thought he’d more likely arrive on horseback, in full armour, swinging a battle-axe beneath the flag of St George, to lead the charge up Stony Stratford High Street against the massed battalions of screeching, hissing, hand-waving antismokers.
I hope he does well tomorrow. He was, after all, on our side.