A couple of weeks back, I was pleased to report that at its Doncaster conference UKIP had announced that:
UKIP will amend the smoking ban to give pubs and clubs the choice to open smoking rooms properly ventilated and separated from non-smoking areas.
Today, in Breitbart UK, UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall wrote a piece with the title:
BRITAIN’S PUBS ARE DYING, ONLY RADICAL MEASURES CAN SAVE THEM
Early in the piece, he wrote:
Certain sectors of the hospitality and leisure industry, such as pubs, have been in the doldrums for over a decade. Indeed, a massive 10,000 have closed since 2002. This is particularly sad because part of our British culture is being destroyed before our very eyes, yet our political class seem at best ambivalent at best towards this loss.
I become livid when I hear politicians try to justify the closures with excuses such as ‘oh well it’s the market’ or ‘people’s tastes have changed’ because both statements are blatant drivel.
The reality is that senseless and harmful legislation, such as the draconian blanket smoking ban in 2007, has led to a dwindling footfall and declining revenue. Indeed, it is the same politicians that use the ‘market’ or ‘tastes’ excuses who told us that more people would actually go to pubs after the ban came into force. However, on the contrary, over fifty a week on average were closing in the first year of the smoking ban.
This is pretty much true. And it’s good to see the blame placed squarely on the smoking ban. Although he points to other reasons as well:
Successive governments have also allowed the pub industry to become dominated by a cartel of large companies who are bleeding the industry dry. These companies, known as PubCos, are making running a pub such an unprofitable job that tenants are simply walking away because they can’t afford to live.
Finally, pubs are facing unfair competition from supermarkets, which in some cases are selling alcohol for less than the price of bottled water, thus leaving making it impossible for pubs to compete on price.
Well, alcohol is cheaper in supermarkets, but I think that the idea that in some it’s cheaper than water is a bit of a myth.
It is now clear that something needs to be done. At the moment over 30 pubs a week are closing their doors. This leads to job losses and in some cases the loss of a community’s focal point. If this trend cannot be reversed, then we must at least do something to halt it in its destructive tracks.
So far, so good.
We must make pubs appealing to people once again and the first way to achieve this is by making them affordable, and that doesn’t mean taking a penny off beer duty here and there as the Tories seem happy to do, it means something more radical.
This is why I support a reduction in VAT for the leisure and hospitality industry from 20 percent to 5 percent.
No, no, no, no , no!!!!!
As a smoker, I don’t go to pubs because I can’t afford them. I don’t go go because, since the smoking ban, they no longer have any appeal for me. I’ll only ever go to them on warm sunny days when I can sit in a pub garden like I would have done in the past.
Affordability is not the same as appeal. For even if alcohol in pubs was cheaper than in supermarkets, I still wouldn’t want to spend time inside one. In fact, if they handed out free beer in pubs, I still wouldn’t find them in the least bit appealing.
The price of beer is irrelevant. What matters is to be able to sit on a chair, and drink a pint of beer, and smoke a cigarette.
The smoking ban is what is destroying “part of our British culture”. In fact, smoking bans are destroying a global culture all over the world.
In fact the smoking ban is really nothing but an attack on our culture. There is no medical justification whatsoever for them. The smoking ban is simply a top-down attempt to change people’s behaviour, and make them conform to a set of wholly alien, healthist dogmas. The smoking ban is a fundamental attack on freedom – the freedom of people to live in ways that they themselves choose, rather than some ‘expert’ or ‘authority’ doing the choosing for them.
Of course, Nuttall didn’t actually say that UKIP wasn’t going to introduce smoking rooms. And maybe he wasn’t speaking for UKIP, but just for himself. And maybe he was just thinking of lowering VAT in addition to introducing smoking rooms.
But for me the re-introduction of smoking into Britain’s pubs is the sine qua non of UKIP getting my vote, and the vote of many people like me – who utterly detest what has been happening to our country for the past 7+ years.
UKIP can chop and change all it likes over Europe and immigration. It can raise or lower VAT to its heart’s content. It can do a deal with the Conservatives or Labour or anyone else. It can do more or less anything it likes. But if it ever waters down or drops the promise to bring back smoking to Britain’s pubs, my vote will go elsewhere. Because it’s the only reason why I’ll ever vote UKIP.