29 March 2019

I had to search online to find “the date when Britain leaves the EU”:

 the UK is scheduled to leave at 11pm UK time on Friday, 29 March 2019.

I wonder if pubs will stay open for the event?

Perhaps they will. But I won’t be there. For now I only ever go to pubs in summer, to sit outside them on sunny afternoons.

29 March 2019 looks set to be a red-letter day in British history. But I found myself wondering this morning whether it would be as significant a day as 1 July 2007.

I concluded that it would not be. Because on 29 March 2019, nothing is going to happen, except perhaps the Union Jack will cease to fly outside the European parliament in Brussels. The consequences, which will be numerous, will follow in the days and months and years thereafter.

But 1 July 2007, the day the UK smoking ban came into force, was an earthquake that was felt everywhere in Britain. It was an earthquake that was felt in every village and town and city. It was a day on which a lot of things fell down. It was the day on which I became homeless, and have remained homeless ever since. For on that day I was exiled to the outdoors, and that’s where I have remained ever since.

George Godber said that smokers would be “petulant for a while” after smoking was banned. But it’s not like that. Smokers never get over smoking bans in the way they might get over lost loves or lost friendships or lost homes. The sense of exclusion is permanent. And that sense of exclusion is something I still endure today just like I first did on 1 July 2007.

Brexit is not going to be a shocking experience for the British people like the smoking ban of 1 July 2007 was. It’s instead going to be a shocking experience for the British political class. It’s going to be a shock in Westminster and in Whitehall, and on Fleet Street and in the studios of the BBC and ITV and Channel 4.

There was weeping and gnashing of teeth all over Britain on 1 July 2007, but next to none of it was reported. I watched it not being reported on TV that day. But the weeping and gnashing of teeth in Westminster and Whitehall on 29 March 2019 will get a storm of publicity because it’s something that will be happening to a political class which has become so completely wedded to the EU over the past 50 years that it will seem as inconceivable to them to leave it as it once seemed inconceivable to me that smoking would be banned in pubs.

The British people could do nothing about the smoking ban that was imposed upon them by the political class on 1 July 2007. But the political class is quite capable of doing something about Brexit, and we are now seeing every effort being made to prevent it from  happening. So I won’t be at all surprised to find that it has been cancelled, or that there will be a second referendum, or something along those lines.

But I think that regardless of what happens in Britain, the EU has begun to disintegrate. It’s another failing European empire, just like all those that preceded it. For I think that the EU elections of 23 May 2019 will see a tide of populists come sweeping into the EU parliament, changing the character of that place, and of European politics. And I think that the end result will see either the complete disintegration of the EU, or its reformation into something like the earlier EEC, as all the nation states of Europe recover their autonomy one by one.

And, although it’s not being reported as such (and will never be reported as such), I’m sure that the populist revolt throughout Europe is in large measure the revolt of Europe’s smokers against the antismoking European political class. After all, Europe’s smokers comprise 25% or even 30% of Europe’s population, and none of them will have liked the smoking bans that have been imposed on them at the request of the EU. Their experience of exile and alienation will in many cases mirror my own experience. For, wherever we are in the world, we smokers are experiencing pretty much the exact same thing everywhere. They have a lot in common with each other, whether they’re Christian or Muslim, or black or white, or male or female. They’re all in the same boat. They’ve all been abandoned and betrayed by their political classes, everywhere in the world. And in this they are united, even if they have yet to experience that unity.

About Frank Davis

smoker
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7 Responses to 29 March 2019

  1. beobrigitte says:

    The British people could do nothing about the smoking ban that was imposed upon them by the political class on 1 July 2007.

    There was no referendum at the time. The anti-smoking lobby made sure there wasn’t one as the overwhelming response from the public would have been a loud NO.
    The political class back then could have done something about the smoking ban: cull the anti-smoker lobby. Unfortunately for us, it was Labour in power at the time. And just as naive as labour politicians are when it comes to public money, they are equally naive when it comes to scaremongering lobby groups that promise them (?personal) gain.

    But the political class is quite capable of doing something about Brexit, and we are now seeing every effort being made to prevent it from happening.

    There is nothing they can do to prevent it from happening. The public that voted for it will be up in arms. For us smokers I begin to see Brexit as a bad thing; The Ashites will go riot and we no longer have the opportunity to bring back a good stash of tobacco from some EU countries (in comparison to England minuscule tobacco tax, therefore cheap) when we cheaply travel there. Flights will be more expensive and we will be only allowed to bring 250gr. tobacco into the country.

    But I think that regardless of what happens in Britain, the EU has begun to disintegrate. It’s another failing European empire, just like all those that preceded it. For I think that the EU elections of 23 May 2019 will see a tide of populists come sweeping into the EU parliament, changing the character of that place, and of European politics.
    Indeed. The European state became an epic fail the minute there were measures of “one-size-fits-all” introduced by some idealists getting carried away with their ideas and ideas induced by lobby groups. Europe can never be a superstate. We’re all proud of our different nationalities and (often similar but never the same) habits. I am a German national living amongst the English. My friends here are English and we take the mickey out of each others “weird” habits. And we’re proud of our habits!
    I personally think that trade agreements would have been a better idea for a functioning Europe. Back in 1983, when I came to Britain I was surprised to learn that I could claim social benefit. I had a job lined up to start within a week of entering the country, but the temptation of having a UB40 with my name on it was too great. (I was heavily into the band UB40’s album UB40″). So I went to claim it. To my surprise I was handed a cheque of £25 which I didn’t want to take. I just wanted that damn UB40 with MY name on it. Before I could hand the cheque back my kids’ (English) dad shoved me out the door…. Needless to say, I signed off a week later but felt guilty about the £25 I was handed. I still have this UB40, though. MY name on it.
    Back then whatever agreement Britain had with other European countries worked far better than what we have today. You wouldn’t move anywhere without making sure you could support yourself. (Hell, yeah, it was a shit job paying £1.20/hour before tax but it was better than nothing).
    And you had to learn about the various laws in the different countries and live by them. Can we have 1983 back?

    • AndyDan says:

      Can we have 1983 back?.. How I wish we could Brigitte, but those times have gone I’m afraid. Oh, to be 21 again…
      You make the point that smokers will be worse off in Brexit Britain than in the EU. I can well believe that. I voted leave, but it worried me that our own leaders seem to be more zealous than the European ones in implementing EU directives.
      We’ll have reduced allowances for tobacco from abroad and increased taxes. What to do?
      Look, there’s a man in Zimbabwe who’ll sell you 1.5kg of flue cured Virginia for £54 delivered. The site is:
      https://shagtobacco.com/
      He’s called Tony Bishop and he’s very reliable. I’ve had several deliveries over the last few years. Problem is that he lives in a failed state. They have banks, you can make deposits, but you can’t withdraw the money. So, he gets you to make a bank transfer to his cousin who lives outside the country.
      When you get the tobacco, use a blender as you’d use to make bread crumbs to get it small enough to roll (3x 2 second bursts I find). It burns as well as shredded tobacco. (You can’t buy a shredder anyway)
      I’ve wanted to tell people on this site about it for a while, but it worries me that the State is watching. And, this leaf could be impounded now.
      I blend it with some home grown Burley and Turkish leaf (also now illegal effectively in the U.K.).
      Anyway, good luck to you all. Don’t pay a fortune for your smoking material.

      I grow a little tobacco myself and

    • Mark Jarratt, Canberra, Australia says:

      250g tobacco duty free passenger allowance? Bleeding luxury. The anti smoking zealots successfully lobbied (they always get whatever they ask for, no matter how intrusive and illogical) for reduction in the allowance to a whole 50g, but the minimum quantity for purchase is 200g/10×20 packs, immediately breaching the allowance.

      Honest travellers declaring excess tobacco are penalized for their honesty by charges for import duty/GST on the full amount (i.e. not given the initial 50g concession).

      This petty policy breaches UN and World Customs Organization conventions on travel and tourism. I informed the Australian government of this inconsistency. Bad luck, health cultism rules, nothing else is relevant. Ignorant, illegal, and more evidence we are deep down the draconian rabbit hole prohibitionist abyss. Abysmal. Merry Christmas, except for smokers. 🎅

  2. Clicky says:

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  4. Pingback: New & Better Worlds | Frank Davis

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