H/T Roobeedoo for Peter Oborne asking why a Conservative government is backing illiberal plain packs for cigarettes.
The short answer is that David Cameron’s Conservatives aren’t in the least bit conservative or liberal or libertarian.
But I watched the YouTube video of Professor Gerard Hastings embedded in the text. It was one long emotional rant (he seemed like he was about to burst into tears) against not just smoking and drinking and fatty food, but against marketing, big business, inequality, profit, everything. Here was someone who had looked at the world around him and did not like it one bit, and desperately wanted to make it into a better world. He wanted to completely reconstruct it. For him, public health was not just about smoking and drinking and fatty food: it was about absolutely everything, and he wanted Public Health to be running absolutely everything.
A century ago he would have been a bomb-throwing anarchist, like Gavrilo Princip. But now people like him are professors of public health, paid handsomely to interfere in everyone’s lives.
And it was a bit of an eye-opener to watch the video, and see what smokers like me are up against:
I suppose that I simply don’t look at the world the way someone like him does. I don’t have such an intensely moral vision. I don’t have a clear idea of what the world ought to be, to be set against what it actually is. I’m not angry with the way the world is. And I’m not angry because I don’t have a vision – an ideal – of what is could and should be made to shape up to be. I’m not an idealist. I don’t carry around dreams of some ideal world in which nobody smokes, or drinks, or gets fat. If nothing else, I’m not sure that what I might regard as being an ideal world (assuming I had one) would be what other people would regard as ideal.
Instead I’ve just been interested – fascinated or enchanted even – with the world in which I’ve found myself. And I’ve wanted to understand it rather than judge it. So I’ve been interested in industry and business and money and profit and inequality. I’ve even constructed theories about how it all works, what its underlying logic might be.
When I look at the tobacco plants growing on my window sill, I don’t see something that ought not to be growing there, and which should be eradicated. I instead wonder why the plants are green, and have leaves, and develop flowers and seeds, and wilt when they’re not watered, and so on. I’m full of questions, not judgments, about the infinitely mysterious world in which I live.
But there was one thing that I did agree with him about, when he said (at 11 minutes in) that:
“Real change is going to come from people getting angry with what is happening at the moment.”
Because I hope that people start getting very, very angry about self-righteous, interfering little bastards like him and Linda Bauld and all the rest of them, with their plans for everyone – and get rid of the whole damn lot of them. For that would indeed be a real and welcome change.