Two Disappointing Conservatives

I don’t think I’ll ever be a conservative. It’s just that these days I usually find that it’s conservatives who tend to say things that I agree with.

And what are conservatives? I suppose they are people who have no utopian ambitions for the complete reform of society, but who instead simply wish to conserve what is best in existing society. The revolutionaries want to chop down the whole tree: the conservatives simply want to prune it a little.

Anyway, I was interested last night to listen two conservatives in conversation: James Delingpole interviewing Peter Hitchens.

They started off talking about drugs and alcohol. But they soon (7 minutes and 20 seconds in) got onto smoking, and there followed the following exchange:

JD: I know that you feel the same about smoking – I think with more justification. You’re pissed off with it for killing your brother, and the whole culture that was indulging this vice which was so obviously destructive. And that’s changed with things like vaping, which was not introduced by the government, it was a cultural thing…

PH: Who knows? I can’t argue about that because we know so little about it at the moment. What I would say again is that If tobacco were being introduced newly into our society but we knew about it what we know now, we would not allow its widespread sale, distribution, advertising.

JD: Sure.

PH: We would probably try to ban it. And because it had not been introduced, we could probably successfully do so, but we can’t now. The interesting thing is that the law has been very cleverly used to reduce the amount of smoking. Where we are sitting now in a cafe in Kensington, you can’t smoke. And in almost any work place you can’t smoke. And in lots of other places. The fundamental penalty which falls on people if they do is a legal penalty, but it falls on the person who allows it, interestingly enough. There was once a law like that about marijuana, but it was overturned by the courts

JD: I can see why you believe in tough laws. You think that if something is wrong then the government has a duty to eradicate it by any means.

PH: I don’t believe in eradication. I’m not a utopian.

And with this interchange my opinion of both these conservatives dwindled significantly.

I had thought of James Delingpole as a smoker, if only because his podcast features an image of him with a pipe planted firmly in his mouth. But here he was, referring to smoking as a “vice” that was “obviously destructive”, and had indeed “killed” Peter Hitchens’ brother Christopher. So I can only think that James Delingpole doesn’t actually smoke a pipe, but only pretends to smoke one.

As for Peter Hitchens, his argument that, if tobacco was being introduced now, we would prohibit it, given “what we know now” about it, rests on the supposition that we actually know something about tobacco that we used once not to know. In this Hitchens is simply regurgitating the conventional wisdom about tobacco (a trait that he is at pains later on in the interview to deny that he ever does, claiming that all his views are carefully thought out).

Also Hitchens approves of the “clever” use of the law to reduce smoking, including in the Kensington cafe in which they are talking. And its principal cleverness was that was that the penalties that it exacted fell not so much on the smokers, but on the proprietors who allowed smoking to  take place. For Hitchens, the law was a tool for social reform. While for me any such use of the law is an abuse of the law – which should be concerned primarily with equity, and with equitably resolving disputes between people (an idea embodied in the scales held by the blindfolded figure of justice).

But this wasn’t perhaps too surprising, given that Hitchens used to be a Trotskyite. He’s a reformed leftist, and later on in the interview he explains why – the gist of it being that he’d eventually realised that the left’s revolutionary goals were for an unattanable utopia.

And I don’t think that Delingpole has ever been any sort of revolutionary or Trotskyite or Maoist or Leninist. He’s much more like me: a pot-smoking hippie. And in fact, later on in the interview, Hitchens says that this was the real difference between them: Delingpole had smoked pot, and he had not.

It’s probably one of the most interesting interviews that Delingpole has ever conducted, and it’s well worth listening to in its entirety, mostly for Hitchens’ opinions on Blair, Brown (“communists”), Thatcher and Reagan (“not conservatives”)  Throughout the interview Delingpole is alternating between admiration for Hitchens, and fury at him for not being a reliable “team player” for the right: “At Bastoigne you would have deserted us.”

But, at the end of it, as I say, I ended up disappointed with both of them. Delingpole, I felt, was a wishy-washy conservative who wasn’t really quite certain what he believed. And Hitchens wasn’t really a conservative at all: he actually remained as much a utopian revolutionary as he had always been, with the slight difference that he no longer believed that the utopia was attainable.

And I suspect I will end up disappointed with all conservatives. I spend a lot of time listening to US conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones and Michael Savage, and I’m gradually coming round to the view that they’re not conservative either. For I more and more believe that antismoking is anti-American in ways it could never be anti-British or anti-French or anti-German, because tobacco has been one of America’s greatest gifts to the world, and is something they should be as proud of as us Brits should be proud of William Shakespeare or Isaac Newton. So all these US “conservatives” (perhaps with the exception of Rush Limbaugh?) seem to me to be betraying their own heritage when they don’t speak up for tobacco, the war on which is primarily a war on America.

Unfortunately, I have bad news about Nisakiman. Two or three days ago he relayed to me what he now knew, and I can only think that he did that because he wanted me to tell my readers how matters now lay.

He has been diagnosed with “an inoperable tumor in the liver, lung, and bones.” He has been pumped full of drugs, and subjected to a battery of tests. That the tumor is inoperable suggests that the only options will be radiotherapy or chemotherapy or maybe just painkillers. I await further news.

But I’m hoping to see him soon. He’s in hospital in Swindon, only 70 km or so from where I live, and it won’t be too much trouble for me to drive down to see him when they let him out, and meet him in the flesh for the very first time.

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34 Responses to Two Disappointing Conservatives

  1. Rose says:

    I am so sorry to hear that, please give him my love.

  2. Twenty Rothmans says:

    I wanted to reply to the PH/JD podcast after I had listened to it, but news of Nisakiman just threw all that out of kilter.
    Although I am frequently out of the country, I’ll offer any succour I can. Swindon is 90 minutes from my home by train and I can bring my best single malt.

    • Frank Davis says:

      That’s a lovely idea. I’ll suggest it to him. We could even both visit at the same time, because I’d love to meet you too.

      Although I haven’t heard from him for the past two days, and I imagine that the enormity of what he’s been told is still something he’s trying to come to terms with.

  3. legiron says:

    Terrible news. I’m too far away for a quick visit, unfortunately, but send him my best wishes when you see him.

  4. Well wishes from across the pond. <3

  5. margo says:

    And please pass on huge commiserations from me, and very best wishes.

  6. Vlad says:

    Delingpole may be a pipe smoker and still consider smoking a vice and believe it’s bad for one’s health. I’ve noticed enough people that think that way on one of the biggest pipe forums (pipemagazine’s).

    Sad to hear about Nisakiman.

  7. Tony says:

    Very sorry to hear about Nisakiman. Please pass my hopes and best wishes on to him.

  8. beobrigitte says:

    Hang in there, Nisakiman!!! Admittedly, decalcification of bone by tumour wasn’t what I wanted to hear… Hopefully sustained remission can be achieved.
    Frank, 20Rothmans, great idea to visit Nisakiman with a bottle of pick-me-up!!

    I’m back home tomorrow (in Glasgow right now), I’ll check the SD bar for visitors.

  9. Emily says:

    I am gutted to hear it, and I hope Nisakiman realizes how many people are thinking of him and wishing him well.

  10. Rhys says:

    So sorry to hear about Nisakiman. Wishing him the best.

  11. Xopher B says:

    Please pass on my best to him.
    I have a good idea of what he’s going through as I was diagnosed with cancer (pancreatic) well over a year ago and despite chemo was told it is inoperable — “months rather than years”. Together with mobility problems it’s all a bit of a bugger and takes some getting used to. It will be good for him to know he has has the support of good friends.

  12. Barry Homan says:

    Hoping for the best. Hang in there, Kev

  13. Carol42 says:

    I heard the same from Nisakiman and that he was having a biopsy next day which would hopefully clarify his options, haven’t heard anything since so hoping he is ok. A lot will depend on where the primary tumour is as liver and bone are often metastasis. Cancer is no longer the death sentence it used to be I know quite a few people who are 10 year survivors of stage 4. I am in year 8 although mine had not spread, I was lucky as I had no symptoms and it was found incidentally. Give him my love when you see him, we are all thinking of him and wishing him well.

  14. Joe L. says:

    My thoughts are with Nisakiman. Please add my hopes and best wishes to the long list you will be taking with you when you visit him, Frank.

  15. kin_free says:

    I’m gutted to hear this news too. My thoughts are with you Kev – keep fighting and beat it!!

  16. Philip Neal says:

    Very sorry to hear about Nisakiman.

    Thanks for the link to Dellers and Hitchens, very interesting about the Blair project. It struck me at the time that many of the people around him had communist or revolutionary pasts which would have disqualified them from high office during the Cold War.

  17. Dmitri says:

    And best wishes to him from me, too. I thought we might meet one day on a beautiful island somewhere. Maybe we still can.

  18. Tony says:

    I believe James Delingpole is always on the look out for controversial and interesting people to feature on his podcasts. Why not give it a go Frank? As a prominent blogger you’d be ideal.

    I’m afraid I don’t have any contact with him but if you were keen, perhaps several readers could back you up by suggesting the idea to him.

    I strongly suspect that the conversation would be amicable and very unlike the sort of hostile interview that the MSM would serve up. It would be a great opportunity to get some sanity into public debate whilst educating him at the same time.

    • Barry Homan says:

      I support this idea.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I don’t think I’m a prominent blogger. I’m prominent only in the excluded world of smokers, and then only in a small way: most smokers will never have heard of me. Where I live, nobody has heard of me.

      James Delingpole is a mainstream writer. He used to write for the Telegraph. Peter Hitchens is another mainstream writer, who writes for the Mail. Neither of them show much interest in smoking bans, certainly not Hitchens. Delingpole writes about global warming and environmentalism and the EU. The nearest he’s got to me has been to interview Chris Snowdon, and Snowdon is another mainstream figure, writing in magazines like the Spectator. I don’t belong to the mainstream world. I’m an outsider. And I will always be an outsider. I will never belong to their world. And I’d be surprised if Delingpole has ever heard of me. I’d certainly never dream of approaching him. Why would I want to?

  19. Lepercolonist says:

    I’m pulling for Nisakiman. Always enjoy his opinions.

  20. waltc says:

    Tell him urgently to look into radiosurgery–it’s targeted (not standard) radiation that usually kills or at the least arrests the individual tumors w/o affecting the surrounding area. Then, too, a biopsy can identify the source of the metasasis and open the option of targeted immunotherapy. You need to do your own research and not just go with what you’re told.

    Limbaugh is a cigar afficionado and has on many occasions busted the secondhand smoke stuff as he regularly does about global warming. You can likely search the archives on his website and turn up a lot of riffs.

  21. smokingscot says:

    Something more cheery up. Got link from Dick P.

    2nd sexual harassment claim filed against Glantz, this time female and native American.

    Comments thus far indicate the claim’s legitimate.

  22. beobrigitte says:

    keep it in your pants, Glantz
    ….. and stick your sexist and antismoking activities where the sun don’t shine.

    Let’s see what happens. My bet is that he’ll try and discredit the woman – as he did before.
    People like him are sad existences.

  23. nisakiman says:

    To everyone who has offered messages of support, I’d like to give my heartfelt thanks. It really is appreciated.
    I’m still waiting for the results from the biopsy, at which point I’ll have a better idea of what options are open to me. Whatever, I intend to battle on as best I can, and try to defy the odds. What else can I do? And the doctor who came round to the ward the other day asking me about resuscitation can just fuck off, the pessimistic cunt. I’m not giving up yet, you bastard.
    I hope to get out of hospital soon, maybe even later today, and if I do, I’ll try to get a bit of a post up on my blog, with a little more info.
    Once again, many thanks for your words of comfort and support. It means a lot to me.

    • garyk30 says:

      Don’t let the bastards wear you down.
      Our thoughts and hopes are with you.

    • smokingscot says:

      Many thanks Nisakiman. 90% of getting through is the wanting to, so good start mate.

      You have of course missed the traditional Orthodox Easter Sunday lunch of sucking pig, lamb and liver all barbecued. I’m sure your buddies in Greece made up for you.

      Been thinking lots about you, but like the tradgedy at LR, unwilling to say anything until I got details.

      I shall await your blog post, feel free to include everything, starting from the beginning.

    • Carol42 says:

      Great to see you posting agan, I can’t believe a doctor said that to you! Don’t let them get you down I know quite a few who have survived stage 4 for years, one 17 years and he had mets to the brain. If there is anything I can help with please get in touch, I did a lot of research at the time. The other thing is you might be wise to get a second opinion at one of the big teaching hospitals in London. I had surgery at Guys and they were very good. Look forward to hearing from you soon.
      Carol x

    • Roobeedoo2 says:

      Glad to hear you’ve escaped the warders, Nik Nak <3

    • beobrigitte says:

      Good to hear from you, Nisakiman! And I’m glad to read that I’m not the only one who knows someone who survived against the odds. I did mention my mum before – the diagnosis was devastating and yet she achieved that sustained remission stage for 30 odd years; she died of old age at 86.

      You can do it, too, Nisakiman.

    • Twenty Rothmans says:

      I have a bottle of Sang Som, straight from the pure waters of the Chao Phraya River. It has your name on it. You’d be wise to mix it with cola or Polonium to take the sting out of it.
      Once you’ve necked it, any tumours can fuck right off.
      See you soon

    • RdM says:

      So glad to see your post, your indomitable optimism and spirit!
      And of course it also means that you’re awake, alive, and have wifi, good in hospital.
      (They wouldn’t have had the last not so many years ago, I imagine.)

      And you have friends wanting to bring you gifts of succour and substance, so I hope you’ll at least keep them up to date on details of where and how you are…

      Presuming the NHS is anti-smoking all over; how are are they re vaping (preferably with a whole tobacco alkaloid e-juice as mentioned in earlier comments/posts!) – or something like the new-fangled Iqos thing that Frank has been trying out, – at least heating ‘real’ tobacco?
      At least easier to use vapour in a secluded area if you wanted, I’d imagine.

      I really hope you can get accurate appropriate treatment to enable you to best this setback, and as folks have testified, it may well be quite possible, so spirits up!

      Hope you can blog comment diary or note progress… as you feel up to it!
      Everybody here is touched and concerned and hopeful for you, I think.
      Overcome the odds, yes! Intelligently! ;=}))

      See you soon, we hope!
      Best wishes for recovery…
      And in terms of any supplements – surely some good natural multivitamins might prop up the hospital diet… ?
      Go for all that’s good…
      ~ RdM

  24. Pingback: Why Believe Anyone? | Frank Davis

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