I had to laugh.
I think the Labour party may have been having a conference this week, and this seems to be what Ed Miliband had to say:
Welcome to Ed Miliband’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The speech that may determine whether the Labour leader will walk into Downing Street next May took as its central theme the isolation of citizens and what he called “the principle of together”.
Where Gabriel García Márquez focused on One Hundred Years of Solitude, Mr Miliband had to settle for almost 80 minutes on his chosen subject, with the promise of much more to come.
I had to laugh because I myself became one of those isolated citizens when Ed Miliband’s Labour party exiled smokers like me to the outdoors. I’m not the only one by any means: the ISIS survey of smokers found that:
Nearly half of all smokers reported that, since smoking bans had come into force, they saw less or much less of friends and family.
Given that there were some 13 million smokers in the UK back in 2007 when the smoking ban was introduced, that’s about 6.5 million people who got a little or a lot lonelier back then.
And now one of the little bastards that did this to them is pretending to care about the social isolation that the Labour party did so much to deliberately inflict on them.
I say “deliberately” because it was known from the outset that a smoking ban would result in the isolation of smokers. ASH’s Deborah Arnott wrote in the Guardian a full 6 months before the UK smoking ban came into force that “smokers will be exiled to the outdoors.” And she was dead right. She knew what would happen to smokers long before smokers like me realised what would happen to them. And if she knew, and publicly said as much, then the Labour government also knew from the outset what the outcome would be. And that means that the Labour government deliberately set out to isolate smokers.
And in fact, everybody now knows perfectly well that it was ASH’s and the Labour government’s intention to “denormalise” smoking. It was a deliberate piece of social engineering that was being undertaken, and this was why smokers were being exiled to the outdoors. They would be made to stand outside until they had given up smoking, and only then would be re-admitted to indoor society. Social exclusion was the means by which smokers were going to be re-educated.
The shame of it all is that when the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government replaced Labour, they continued with the same policy of “denormalisation” and demonization and exclusion towards smokers.
For the Conservatives and Lib Dems are no better than Labour. A point that was driven home to me when my present Conservative MP wrote to me to say:
“I did in fact vote against the ban on smoking in cars carrying children, as I believe it would be untenable to enforce.”
Note that he didn’t vote against a proposed car smoking ban because it was a monstrous invasion of private property (people’s private cars) or because it was a totalitarian intrusion by the state into family life, but because he didn’t think it could be enforced. The only possible deduction to be made from this was that, if it had been possible to enforce (using smoke detectors in radio contact with roving police cars?), he would have cheerfully voted for a ban on smoking in cars.
Our present political class no longer sees its purpose as being that of merely representing its citizens, but of commanding them.
Which is why it is a matter of no little urgency to dispense with their services, and replace them with people who will represent their fellow citizens, rather than try to command or control them. And it’s perhaps the reason why support for UKIP has been rising.