General Election Non-News

You wouldn’t think that there was a UK General Election in less than two months. Nobody much seems to be doing any campaigning. There have been no leaflets, round here at least. But I don’t seem to be the only one who has noticed the lack of activity.

Fifty days out from the election, Westminster is a strange mix of speculation, tedium and delusion. No one really has any idea who is going to win on May 7th. As frustrating as that is for pundits, it’s not really a problem. More concerning is the lack of activity in the political operations of each party.

There has been a dearth of real election-related news over the last few weeks, other than the meaningless navel-gazing on television debates.

He goes on:

David Cameron and the Conservative Party are unlikely to remain in government. That is the verdict of bookmakers, anyway. Yet if you talk to anyone involved in the election campaign for the Tories, you will hear nothing but absolute conviction that they will stay in office. The absurdity of them losing to Ed Miliband is too preposterous even to countenance, too calamitous to bear thinking about.

Miliband, meanwhile, is the most likely to be Prime Minister, according to the bookies. But so far there has been no sign from the Labour leader that he is a man who is ready to rule the country. The favourite should exude confidence at this stage, his self-assuredness and utter faith that he is soon to seize power should be infectious among voters. Instead, it is the same gratuitously self-deprecating, anti-Prime Ministerial Miliband of old who we see on our screens.

What of the other parties? There is a very real possibility that Nigel Farage will lose South Thanet. It just sort of feels like he will win, because UKIP has done so well this parliament and because he is a party leader standing against a Tory candidate with no incumbency factor.

In reality, he faces a huge fight. Until the recent numbers putting Farage well ahead, all the constituency polling in the seat had him behind. As Farage himself has confessed, defeat here means the end of his political career. It means the end of UKIP as we know them. And yet Farage and UKIP show little awareness of their quite plausibly impending doom.

I don’t know what the situation in South Thanet is. I’m sure Farage is campaigning hard, even if nobody much else is doing much. But it seems he’s been contemplating the possibility of losing:

NIGEL Farage has vowed to quit as Ukip leader if he fails to become an MP at the general election, saying it would be “curtains for me”.

The eurosceptic leader admitted it would be “just not credible” for him to stay at the top of the party if he failed to win the South Thanet seat in May.

Farage – who will fight comedian Al Murray in the battle for the Kent seat – is on course for victory according to research.

But the MEP will need to beat a Conservative majority of nearly 17%.

In an extract from his new book The Purple Revolution, printed in the Daily Telegraph, he said: “The consequences of me failing to secure a seat for myself in the Commons would be significant for both myself and the party.

“It is frankly just not credible for me to continue to lead the party without a Westminster seat.

I can see what he means. But I hope that he wins, not just for the sake of UKIP, but also because I think he’d be an asset for parliament and parliamentary democracy, regardless of what party he belonged to. Particularly when he says things like this:

EXCLUSIVE: Farage will ‘save British pubs’ by axing the smoking ban

ALE-swilling Ukip chief Nigel Farage has vowed to save the great British pub if he gets into power.

He said he would slash beer tax and bring back smoking rooms should his party enter government as part of a coalition in May’s General Election.

He said he was stunned by the state of the industry, which sees almost two boozers close every day, according to the British Beer and Pub Association.

Mr Farage said: “Beer taxes are up, over 40% in the last five years, so there’s a real problem.

“Now there’s an election coming George Osborne will no doubt cut beer taxes in the Budget.

“Secondly, the smoking ban has meant that a lot of pubs struggle day in day out so I’d say look, make the back room a smoking room to keep the punters coming in.

“It doesn’t affect the non-smokers and it would help the pubs enormously.”

I just wish that he – and UKIP – would shout this from the rooftops. Because it’s a campaign pledge that rather seems to have been overtaken by Europe and immigration. How many people know that UKIP would amend the smoking ban?

I’m a bit surprised that the antis aren’t out hissing and screeching about how Nigel Farage “sets a bad example” or “sends the wrong message” and “is killing our children”.

But perhaps they daren’t highlight this aspect of UKIP’s policies, lest too many people find in it a reason to vote UKIP?

And I must add my condolences (H/T smokingscot) at the death of Captain Ranty. I first came across him when he was writing regularly for F2C some 6 or 7 years ago, and greatly admired his punchy style of writing. And I think that when he started his own blog, it gave me something of an incentive to start my own – which I did, quite by accident, a few months later.


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12 Responses to General Election Non-News

  1. Enstroms out for BLOOD whatcha’s wanna bet the legal briefs are already written and being filed very soon……….

    James Enstrom is talking about filing an ethics complaint against me and other scientists in Merchants of Doubt

    Submitted by sglantz on Sun, 2015-03-15 14:43

    According to this post on a well-respected blog on global warming,, James Enstrom, an epidemiologist with a long history of working for tobacco and other corporate interests, is urging people to file ethics complaints against me and other scientists who appear in the new movie “Merchants of Doubt” through our universities.

    Enstrom filed such a complaint against me several years ago claiming I violated the Faculty Code of Conduct by criticising an industry-funded study he published that, not surprisingly, concluded that secondhand smoke did not cause cancer. While the complaint was ultimately found to be without merit, the whole process took several months. He was angry for, among other things, our paper exposing how he worked with the cigarette companies’ lawyers to produce a paper claiming that secondhand smoke does not cause lung cancer. As noted in the Desmogblog post, Federal Judge Gladys Kessler highlighted Enstrom’s study in her ruling that the cigarette companies constituted an illegal enterprise to defraud the public under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

    In this case, would be part of a much larger organized campaign.

    Hopefully, if these threats materialize, the universities will consider the source (and political motivations) when considering these complaints.

  2. jaxthefirst says:

    So sorry to hear about Captain Ranty. As I just posted over at DP’s place: “Wow. What a shocker. I’m slightly surprised at quite how deeply saddened I am to hear this; after all, I never met the Captain or even – until now – knew his real name. But, as for many others, I suspect, he was a bright light in a dull, often (for smokers) hostile world. It’s perhaps a reflection of a society that, for smokers, has become increasingly unfriendly over the past couple of decades, that the loss of a smoker-member of the blogosphere, particularly one who writes so well and voices many of our own thoughts and feelings more articulately than we ourselves can, touches us as deeply as, in earlier years, the loss of one of our well-known pub-regular friends would have done. Sad news indeed. RIP Cap’n.”

    • Rose says:

      I only just found out his real name on Dave Atherton’s blog – now I’m sad.
      I used to email him regularly with things I’d found in the months after the ban and talk to him on Dr Siegel’s blog, he was always very kind and gave me confidence to carry on.

  3. cherie79 says:

    My last email from Colin was on March 2nd of course I didn’t know it was the last. Having a red wine and cigarette in his honour, I will miss him very much. RIP Captain

  4. OBAMA FAILS: Netanyahu Declares Victory In Israel’s Election ‘Against All Odds’

    THE BLAZE UPDATE 4:55 p.m. ET: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared victory in the tight election. “Against all odds:a great victory for the Likud….

  5. Lepercolonist says:

    I did not have the pleasure of reading Captain Randy. His story, ‘Disgusting’ on Dick Puddlecote’s site is one of the funniest blogs I have ever read.

  6. Rose says:

    Nearly there

    A summary of mortality and incidence of cancer in men from the United Kingdom who participated in the United Kingdom’s atmospheric nuclear weapon tests and experimental programmes

    Richard Doll 1988

    “Most of the differences observed between the participants and controls were interpreted as due to chance, but some may be due to differences in smoking habits.”

    “We will provide £25 million to help our eldest veterans, including nuclear test veterans.”
    George Osbourne”

    The Mirror doesn’t quite have it right.

    “Victims of Britain’s nuclear test programme could finally get compensation, David Cameron has signalled.
    The Prime Minister said he was determined to “seek a resolution” for the nuclear test veterans.

    A recent study found children born to the 22,000 British troops sent to witness blasts in the South Pacific in the 1960s had 16 times the normal rate of birth defects.

    Mr Cameron came under fresh pressure to act when questioned by Tory MP John Baron in the Commons.
    Mr Baron wants the Government to make a payment of £25 million to a charitable fund tasked with helping the veterans and their children.

    “After all, we only had to ask them once to do their duty and stand in front of a nuclear bomb,” he said.”

  7. smokingscot says:


    How odd. Seems Mr. Osborne’s gone against his pledge of last year (to stick to the 2% above inflation escalator on tobacco duty) and left it unchanged.

  8. beobrigitte says:

    You wouldn’t think that there was a UK General Election in less than two months.

    We sure don’t. However, neither of the two big parties is giving people their social life back. They have stated the opposite. Labour wants to go further; it intends to kill all smokers. And, of course, the tobacco industry.

    I don’t know about everyone else. Prior to the smoking ban a cigarette was not something important. I smoked a lot less than I do now. NOW A CIGARETTE IS IMPORTANT. In the last 13 month I lit a lot of them. Funerals of politically correct youngsters do that to you. And, even without this, we are aware of being kicked out everywhere, being bullied to become a “huddle” of smokers in some corner.
    First question: WHY do you think we baby-boomers “want” to continue to be part of the work force PAST our retirement age? Because ‘we all live longer’? We, the baby-boomers grew up with cigarettes – and passive smoke. How come it kills all the ‘poor chiiiiiiildren’ nowadays whilst we – the baby-boomers – are denied the pension age of 60?
    Write a 4 page essay, no tobacco control&friends funded “research” to be used, and provide a plausible explanation. I am waiting. And I am tired of attending kids’ funerals. The “chiiiiiildren – our future”? Currently we are burying a lot of them!!! Perhaps the BBC is doing too good a job in scaring the youngsters REAL good; – be it cigarette smoke, or sugar, or salt or anything else some nitwit is thinking about.

    I am voting for a REAL life that balances work life. Going out, being a PAYING customer, NOT being kicked out.
    I want a government that shows it has a spine instead of whimpering healthists and anti-smokers.
    That does remind me of another question I have: Dave is friends with Jeremy Clarkson. What does Jeremy Clarkson have to say to being kicked outside when he wants to light up in Cameron’s home? What does Cameron have to say when Jeremy lights up in his presence inside Jeremy’s home? Have they come to a private agreement? No laws needed?

  9. New Global Fund to Help Countries Defend Smoking Laws

    Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced on Wednesday that they had started a global fund to help low- and middle-income countries fight legal challenges to their smoking laws by the tobacco industry.

    The fund is modest, at least so far, with a total of $4 million from the two charities. But Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and the financial data and news company Bloomberg LP, said in a conference call with reporters that the investment was more like an initial marker, and that it was expected to grow as more donors joined the effort.

    “The fact that there is a fund dedicated to taking on the tobacco companies in court sends a message that they are not going to get a free ride,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “If they say that’s not a lot of money — yes, well, take a look at who’s behind it.”

    He added, “We just picked $4 million just to say, ‘O.K., here, let’s start it.’”

    A cigarette display and antismoking messages in Australia, where the tobacco industry lost a case last year. Philip Morris International has filed suit under an investment treaty.

    Tobacco Firms’ Strategy Limits Poorer Nations’ Smoking LawsDEC. 13, 2013

    The fund was set up to counter what health experts say has been a strategy by tobacco companies to block smoking laws in poorer countries through legal means. In a number of cases, companies have challenged laws in development or after passage, warning governments that they violate an expanding number of trade and investment treaties that the countries are party to, and raising the prospect of long, expensive legal battles.

    Companies say that there are only a few cases of active litigation and that giving a legal opinion to governments is routine for major players whose interests would be affected by a proposed law. But tobacco opponents and officials say the specter of litigation has had a chilling effect for countries that lack the financial resources to defend themselves.

    In an ominous trend, in some countries the battle between tobacco and health has moved into the courts,” Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization, said in a statement on Wednesday. Dr. Chan is participating in a conference on tobacco use in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. She added, “We will push back hard.”

    The strategy has gained momentum in recent years, health experts say, as smoking rates in rich countries have fallen and tobacco companies have sought to maintain access to fast-growing markets in developing countries.

    In Africa, at least four countries — Namibia, Gabon, Togo and Uganda — have received warnings that their laws run afoul of international treaties, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an advocacy group that will administer the new fund. In Uruguay, Mr. Bloomberg’s charity is also helping the government defend itself in court.

    Wealthier countries have also been targets, including Australia, which is in court with an affiliate of Philip Morris International over rules on packaging, and Norway.

    British American Tobacco, which issued some of the warnings in Africa, did not respond to requests for comment. Philip Morris International said in a statement, “Governments can and should honor their international obligations when enacting tobacco control measures, and this fund can provide them with resources to do so.”

    Tobacco consumption more than doubled in the developing world from 1970 to 2000, according to the United Nations. Much of the increase was in China, but there has also been substantial growth in Africa, where smoking rates have traditionally been low. More than three-quarters of the world’s smokers now live in the developing world.

    Every year, more than five million people die of smoking-related causes, more than from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined, according to the World Health Organization. The organization said in a statement on Wednesday that new data shows a declining rate of tobacco use around the world.

    Beyond giving money, the fund will also help countries draft tobacco laws in a way that could help avoid challenge from industry, and establish a network of lawyers experienced in trade litigation. Mr. Bloomberg said some law firms had already expressed interest in volunteering their services. Mr. Bloomberg has committed about $600 million to combat tobacco use since 2007.

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