25 September 2015
A UKIP MEP has told the party’s conference the ban on smoking in public places in England has “damaged more communities than the pit closures did”.
At a fringe meeting about which political party best spoke for the working class, Tim Aker said the 2005 ban had upped levels of hidden drinking by forcing people “to retreat inwards”.
It was evidence of a “bankrupt” Labour telling people “what to do and think”.
Senior UKIP figures have also targeted new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
UKIP made big inroads into traditional Labour heartlands in May’s election – coming second to the party in a host of seats in the north of England – but it has been suggested that Mr Corbyn’s election could halt this momentum.
But Mr Aker, who lost to Labour by 800 votes in Thurrock in May, said Labour had “ceased to exist” as a party of working people, choosing to “lecture rather than represent them”.
Citing the smoking ban as an example of a policy that had hit C1 and C2 workers, he said: “They (Labour) say all the time, despite ignoring the facts, that it was the pit closures that destroyed all the communities.
“But I put it to you that the smoking ban has destroyed more communities than any any pit closure has done because when people don’t have a place to meet, a place to socialise, they retreat in.
Always good to see someone telling it like it is.
Except that it’s worse than that. The pit closures he was talking about happened, from memory, in the 1980s after Margaret Thatcher took on the coal miners under Arthur Scargill – and won. A lot of pits closed down, and that’s what shattered a great many coal mining communities.
But not everybody in Britain was a coal miner. Nobody else was affected very much. And that’s where the smoking ban was worse than the coal mine closures. Because it affected everybody – everybody who ever went to pubs or cafes or wherever they used to smoke – all over Britain. In England, Scotland, Wales. Everywhere.
And once smokers were “exiled to the outdoors” like Deborah Arnott predicted, that was bound to shatter communities. It certainly shattered mine. There’s nothing left.
But it’s even worse than that. Because it’s not as if Britain has been the only place in the world that has been introducing smoking bans. Pretty much everywhere else in the world is doing the same. There are shattered communities in the USA and Canada and Australia and New Zealand. And there are shattered communities all over Europe – in Spain and France and Holland and Germany , and all over the Middle East. And now Russia and China as well. In some places the laws aren’t as draconian as elsewhere. And in some places – like Greece – it seems the law just gets ignored. But apart from that it’s the same everywhere.
It’s global in its scale. That’s what is really shocking. This atrocity is being committed pretty much everywhere, all around the world.
But there’s nobody much in any of the mainstream political parties that pay any attention to it at all. Not even Donald Trump mentions it. It falls to fringe parties like UKIP to tell the truth that the rest won’t tell.
The only surprise is that the BBC actually reported it.