Time To Relax The Smoking Ban

Following on from yesterday, according to Dan Hodges there are already two “resistance movements” emerging in the Labour party:

Over the past few days two different strategies have emerged, which have been dubbed the “Free French” and the “Maquis” strategies.

The Free French strategy involves effectively withdrawing all support from Corbyn. MPs will not serve in his shadow cabinet, they will not observe the whip, they will not be bound by any sense of collective responsibility to the official party line. Those advocating that strategy are being compared to De Gaulle and those French forces that retreated into exile in Britain, then returned to the French continent on D-Day to liberate their homeland.

The Maquis strategy involves “staying behind enemy lines and fighting”, according to one MP. Existing members of the shadow cabinet will organise slates, and stand for election in the shadow cabinet elections Corbyn has pledged to reintroduce. From here they will oppose Corbyn’s more radical policy initiatives and start to construct an independent base from within the PLP and the wider Labour party, which they will use to strike out against him when they judge the time is right.

This must be wonderful news for the Conservative government. The Corbynite Labour party on the opposition benches will be so deeply racked by civil war that they’ll be unable to mount an effective opposition to the Cameron government. This should make it much easier for Cameron to completely dismantle Tony Blair’s nanny state – if he wants to.

Except I don’t think he wants to. I read somewhere that today’s Conservatives have pretty much become Social Democrats. Which seems about right.

And this may trigger a struggle for the soul of the Conservative party that mirrors the current struggle taking place in the Labour party. Are they conservatives or aren’t they? Or were they so transfixed by Blair that they’ve all become Blairites?

Even if David Cameron is a Blairite Conservative, I rather suspect that most Conservatives are actually small-c conservatives who would have joined the Labour party if they’d thought that highly of Blair and New Labour. And now that there won’t be a credible opposition, I suspect that they’ll gradually revert to type.

In addition, the Conservative party lost a lot of votes to UKIP. They lost votes on the right, not the left. The voters had moved en masse to the right. They’d either left Labour and Lib Dems to vote Conservative. Or they’d left the Conservatives to vote UKIP. Those were both shifts to the right. I shifted much further: I shifted from the Lib Dems to UKIP, skipping the Conservatives completely, with the smoking ban acting as the principal driver.

There are 4 million votes out to the right of the Conservative party. If they want to attract those voters, the Conservative party is going to have to shift rightwards. Conservative MPs may be divided over Europe, but most of them voted against the smoking ban.

And the simplest thing they could do right now to attract some of those votes back would be to unilaterally relax the smoking ban. Britain’s 10+ million smokers would be very grateful for that. So what if it wasn’t in their manifesto: the Labour party’s 2007 draconian smoking ban wasn’t in their manifesto either. They could justify it on the economic grounds of seeking to support the ailing hospitality industry, or in order to rebuild broken communities. And if the health zealots protest, then de-fund the health zealots – they’ve been living off taxpayers for too long anyway. Britain’s 10+ million smokers would be grateful for that too. And so would a great many other people.

Anyway, if nothing else, UK politics is getting interesting again.


About Frank Davis

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23 Responses to Time To Relax The Smoking Ban

  1. Smoking Lamp says:

    Yes! It’s time to relax the UK smoking ban. Next Eire, then Canada, France, Spain, all parts of the US and Australia and New Zealand. Let the roll back begin!

  2. Marvin says:

    Why do you think all the votes going to UKIP were from the right? by all accounts a significant number of those four million came from “old Labour” voters, thoroughly pissed-off with Blairs nanny-state, the smoking bans, the closing of pubs and working mens clubs, etc. You could categorise those votes as coming from the “left” going to UKIP. If Corbyn can win back those votes the smoking ban will certainly be on the agenda. I don’t know where Jeremy Corbyn stands on the smoking issue, but his brother Piers is a climate change DENIER, so they’re not all bad. The only criticism I have of Corbyn is he’s pro EU, if he ditched that, a Corbyn Labour party would be like UKIP with a human face.

    Here’s brother Piers in full flow :)

    • Frank Davis says:

      I don’t know where Jeremy Corbyn stands on the smoking issue,

      He voted strongly in favour of the UK smoking ban, like 90% of Labour MPs.

      He’s probably still really, really proud of it too.

      • Roobeedoo2 says:

        You can always ask him. He’s on Twitter. You’re good at sowing seeds, Frank; he is a politician after all ;)

    • Tony says:

      I read somewhere that, unlike his brother, Jeremy Corbyn is a raging warmist. Interestingly though, Piers Corbyn was tweeting endlessly in support of his brother’s leadership campaign.

    • Tony says:

      I also take issue with the notion that UKIP votes in Labour areas represented a shift to the right. As you rightly point out, the Labour party betrayed ordinary people especially with the smoking ban. But being against the EU is not the preserve of the right either. Old labour were strongly opposed: e.g. Tony Benn

      • Frank Davis says:

        Straight talking from Tony Benn on the EU. I always thought that it was interesting that, near the end of his life, he chose to be portrayed quietly and firmly smoking a pipe. I don’t remember him ever saying anything about the smoking ban, but I suspect he didn’t approve.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I agree that there’s nothing particularly left wing or right wing about smoking per se, There have been lots of left wing smokers and lot of right wing smokers. That said, it was the ‘progressive’ left in the UK in the form of the Labour and Lib Dem MPs who gleefully voted for the smoking ban. These ‘progressives’ always have some idea of what they want the world to ideally be like – e.g. smoke-free, low carbon, green, etc -. They have no wish whatsoever to preserve anything in the society in which they found themselves, and would quite happily smash it to pieces. Conservatives generally (and mercifully) lack such detailed plans for an ideal world, and are largely content to preserve their cultural heritage, with a few improvements there and there, and most Conservative MPs voted against the ‘progressive’ smoking ban. And much the same is true elsewhere, in the USA and the EU. They also have their ‘progressives’.

      As for the many former Labour voters who switched to Conservatives or UKIP last May, they were probably traditional Labour voters, and not ‘progressives’ with dreams of an ideal ‘smoke-free’ world. They weren’t radicals. They were, in many ways, quite conservative.

      These days, for me, the left is primarily ‘progressive’, and the right is not. They’re fired by some vision of how the world might be, in ways that the right is not. They want to change everything (‘change’ being Obama’s watchword, of course). There was a time, 30 or 40 years ago, when I was a bit ‘progressive’. But now I can’t abide their idea of what constitutes ‘progress’. It just seems utterly destructive, and amounts to a war on the culture in which they found themselves. The smoking ban has been an act of cultural vandalism.

      • jay says:

        I think you’re probably right, Frank, about the former Labour voters, at least the ones who voted for UKIP. I live on the border of County Durham, the region of pit villages which, between the mine closures and the working men’s clubs/pubs closures are depressed and depressing places. I remember Brown – foolishly (from his standpoint) – opened a website and invited questions/comments one of which was from an extremely irate secretary of a working men’s club in the North East ripping into him about the smoking ban. The people in those villages would never vote Tory (when Thatcher died my MP (Tory) was sent northwards about 30 miles to be interviewed in a pub in a small Co. Durham town which became a ghost town when the local employer, a steel works, closed, since which time the only inward investment is a huge Tesco (roll out the bunting :/) which, of course, has put a significant number of small shopkeepers out of business. Anyway, the interview – broadcast on the news – had to be terminated such was the hostility towards this MP who was, natch, valiantly and unsuccessfully trying to defend Thatcher). They would, however, vote UKIP because Farage’s persona signifies the values of the ‘working man’ who likes a pint and a smoke in his local. NuLabour really represented only the Islington mob although it tried to present itself as all things to all men. Farage now represents Old Labour (without the more extreme socialism), the party of the respectable working class that can never bring itself to vote Tory.

  3. junican says:

    A quick comment before bed.
    I don’t think that this is a right/left issue at all. It is more a ‘genuine/fake’ issue. I have no doubt in my own mind that Blair was always a ‘fake’. Perhaps Corbin will be ‘genuine’. Perhaps also he might not be as ‘blithering idiot’ as he is being portrayed.
    Just suppose that he had ideas which would revolutionise education in a positive way. Just suppose that he revolutionised education so that it taught FACTS? Suppose that adverts on TV were used in schools as examples of duplicitous trickery? “Three shades whiter” comes to mind.

    Suppose that Corbin was genuine? Suppose that he he DOES NOT want to destroy capitalism and civilisation. Suppose that he wants to restore civilisation (including the abolition of the phrase ‘public place’). Suppose that he wants merely to redirect ‘Labour’ from pretty, wealthy girls from good families, to realists from Unions?
    Nothing is simple. What seems to be obvious is that there is a movement away from the likes of whats-her-name, the wife of the recently deposed minister. She epitomises the status quo – “Carry on, chaps!” Perhaps Corbin has new, different and plausible ideas.

  4. Toby says:

    July the first 2007 was like entering year zero for me. Everything changed completely from as you say social contact to job. I was determined in my own way to resist the totalitarians, so I gave up my full time job and found a part time maintenance job. I used my savings to pay off my mortgage and work 2 days a week now (although I get offered more hours from time to time). I keep my earnings below income tax level and enjoy my leisure as much as I can. Like you I have nothing to spend any extra money on now.

  5. harleyrider1978 says:

    Cancer Council to fight British American Tobacco’s FOI bid for students’ smoking attitudes research



  6. harleyrider1978 says:

    Anti-smoking zealots are censoring reality

    Denormalisation strategies are curtailing our everyday freedoms.


  7. harleyrider1978 says:

    Major publisher retracts 64 scientific papers in fake peer review outbreak

    Often using fake e-mail addresses and stolen identities, fake peer reviewers are manipulating the practice that’s a cornerstone of academic publishing.


    • slugbop007 says:

      Oxford University Press could be doing the same. Propel, in Waterloo, Ontario, at the University of Waterloo, has several Masters of Public Health publishing supposed peer review papers every week: Ryan Kennedy, Sunday Azagba and Bruce Baskerville. They all have PhDs in Public Health. Whatever that is. It took just one year for Ryan to achieve his MpH at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, in Maryland. He was in Montréal several years testing smoke levels at some outdoor café and declared that cigarette smoke was more deadly than a forest fire and the daily smog in Los Angeles. He was written up in the newspapers as an air quality research expert. I checked his curriculum at the Bloomberg School and saw no courses that taught the art of testing air quality. Sunday Azagba was in Montréal last May, measuring smoke on an outdoor patio somewhere in Montréal, and he too was hailed as ‘one of Canada’s leading researchers’ by a freelance journalist, one Stan Shatenstein. Mr. Azagba has a PhD in Economics at Concordia University, Montréal. Stan S. is a Luther Terry award recipient and a bosom buddy of Simon Chapman. Bruce Baskerville was the recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation scholarship. Gary Giovino, newly appointed to the FDA, was also a RWJ Foundation scholarship fellow. RWJ subsidises universities, their students and public health groups all over the USA, Canada and Europe. Perhaps even more than that. They are presently working on an alcohol prohibition strategy.

  8. scot says:

    Some of the big Unions were totally behind the ban, as it safeguarded their members “exposure to SHS” at work, so fuck knows why anyone would look to them for any support…

    • Rose says:

      GMB demonstrates for total ban
      Thursday 24 November 2005

      “Hospitality workers from the GMB union make a point about the dangers of second-hand smoke at a protest outside a Gala casino in London last week.

      The protesters were marking National Lung Cancer Day (17 November) by donning gas masks and calling on the Government to introduce a total ban on smoking in public places that doesn’t exempt private members’ clubs and pubs that don’t serve food.
      About 100,000 workers in hospitality will still be exposed to second-hand smoke under the Government’s plans.”

      MPs urged to vote for total smoking ban
      “Unions and public health officers are urging MPs to back a total ban on smoking in public places, including pubs and clubs. The calls come after the government’s decision last week to allow Labour MPs a free vote on the smoking ban proposals in the health Bill (Risks 239). The TUC has already called for a ban without exceptions. And last week GMB organiser Mick Ainsley, whose union organises casino workers, said: ‘We are writing to all GMB sponsored MPs to remind them that the issue here is not about a smoker’s individual choice, it is about the right of workers not to breathe in secondhand smoke.’
      He added: ‘The vote in parliament will put to the test to what extent the smooth words of the new Tory leader will be translated in to effective action to enhance the health and safety of people who work in the leisure industry.’ The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) is urging its members – which include the local authority environmental health officers that would be responsible for enforcing the legislation in leisure facilities – to use their lobbying power to convince MPs to vote for an outright ban on smoking in all enclosed public places and workplaces.”

      Consultation on the Smokefree Elements of the Health Improvement and Protection Bill ( Trades Union Congress )

      “The TUC is concerned that the proposed definition will allow the smoking of herbal cigarettes. This could lead to people mixing tobacco with herbal mixtures to disguise the fact they are smoking tobacco. In addition the smoke from many herbal mixtures is just as likely to trigger asthma attacks. While the evidence of harm relates only to tobacco at present, this is because no or little research has been done on the effects of herbal mixtures and we are surprised that the D of H is not taking a precautionary approach.
      We would prefer the definition to cover tobacco and other herbal products. If it is agreed to cover not only tobacco but also herbal products, we would support an exemption for the theatre, film and TV sectors for performers in cases where this is required for artistic purposes”.
      http: //www.smokefreeaction.org.uk/archive/consultation%20submissions/TUCsubmission.html

  9. Daniel says:

    Monday 8th July 2007 changed everyone’s lives. The smoking ban just came into force and the smokers of Britain where forced outside their familiar warm local into the cold for the first time ever, damaging pubs, bingo halls, clubs and cafe’s. What I find disgusting is that the powers that be in parliament didn’t consider the pub trade, the cafe’s, clubs and and community centres when applying this ban. My kind of smoking ban would only ban smoking in hospitals, schools and grounds, restaurants, communal halls and shops.

    Pubs, Clubs, Bingo Halls, Cafe’s and Coffee shops should have been given the option of a smoking license off the council so they can decide for their-selves if they want their establishments to be smoke free or smoke friendly.

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