Peter Oborne was in the news today:
The chief political commentator of the Daily Telegraph has resigned from the paper, accusing it of a “form of fraud on its readers” for its coverage of HSBC and its Swiss tax-dodging scandal.
Peter Oborne claimed the paper did not give due prominence to the HSBC story because of commercial interests.
Newspapers had a “constitutional duty” to tell readers the truth, he said.
It reminded me that I once had a high opinion of him, for writing this last year.
The smoking ban killed the British pub. This vandalism is Labour’s defining legacy
Some people believe Labour’s defining legacy is Iraq. Others think it is the hunting ban. But the issue which has affected most people and which has damaged the fabric and appearance of British community more than anything else is the loss of the local pub.
The British pub is internationally famous. It is entirely bound with the nation’s history. Yet 26 are closing per week – more than 1,000 a year – changing the look of the nation. Town and countryside are littered with pub corpses, boarded up and often awaiting permission for conversion to flats or houses.
And it is not as if something else has come along to bring communities together. Instead, people sit in front of their televisions. This terrible process started with the ban on smoking. Labour was warned that it would result in pub closures, but went ahead regardless. The people it was supposed to protect – the bar staff – have suffered catastrophic job losses as a result (though this is rarely noticed, as so many bar staff are non-unionised, cash-in-hand foreigners). Labour knew this would happen…
But I was also reminded that my high opinion of him evaporated two months later:
…it is time for ministers to wake up and ask exactly who it is that ASH and other anti-smoking organisations represent, and why and on what basis the state is paying for them.
It’s time to loosen the laws against smoking in pubs. It’s time to treat smokers as grown-ups and not pariahs.
No problems with that. The problems started a few lines later with this:
There’s no argument that cigarettes kill, and the early attempts by the tobacco lobby to deny this were dishonest and disreputable.
I’d also guess that almost every smoker now realises that smoking in public places is a gross intrusion on others.
They should, of course, acknowledge that the anti-smoking lobby has achieved good things.
Well, I don’t accept any of those last three assertions. I don’t believe that cigarettes kill. I don’t think that smoking in public spaces is a gross intrusion on others. And I don’t think that the anti-smoking lobby has done any good at all.
As I pointed out at the time, as soon as you make these sort of concessions, you’ve lost the argument. There should be no concessions whatever made to the Tobacco Control lie machine.
But today James Delingpole was singing Oborne’s praises:
If you care at all about the future of quality journalism, you really should read Peter Oborne’s letter resigning his post as Chief Political Commentator of the Daily Telegraph.
As far as I’m concerned, quality journalism didn’t die with the resignation of Peter Oborne from the Telegraph. It died a long time before that. And it’s the main reason why I no longer buy newspapers.