A Really Really Great Big Storm in a Teacup

We had a great big storm in a teacup here in Britain yesterday. A really, really great big storm. Some of the waves even broke over the lip of the teacup and splashed into the saucer underneath. It was that bad.

What happened was that PM Boris Johnson asked the Queen to prorogue Parliament for 5 weeks during September and early October. It’s something that happens quite regularly in Britain. It’s a routine event.

But you’d have thought that Boris had just conducted a palace coup, closed down Parliament indefinitely, arrested all the Remainers, and locked them up in the Tower of London. Polly Toynbee in the Guardian yesterday:

The sense of violation of democracy reverberates everywhere. But what should civil servants do when power is seized in front of their eyes? Do they carry on obeying orders to drive the country into a no-deal Brexit disaster when they see parliament barred from that nation-changing decision?

Americans are used to this sort of thing, of course, because every time Donald Trump does anything at all, CNN and MSNBC and NYT all go crazy and act like it’s the end of the world. And now the UK mainstream media seem to be treating Boris like he’s a new Donald Trump. We have copycat media.

In fact all Boris has done is to reduce the parliamentary time available for Remainers to debate overthrowing the government and installing Jeremy Corbyn or Ken Clarke as a caretaker prime minister in a government of national unity (or whatever their latest mad scheme is). They’ve now got only 3 or 4 weeks instead of 8 or 9 weeks. Oh, the Violation of Democracy! They’ve got less than half the time they thought they had.

James Delingpole saw it as confirmation that Brexit would actually happen on 31 October:

Britain is definitely leaving the European Union on October 31st.

Isn’t it odd that this simple fact should arouse such controversy?

We voted to leave, after all, by a margin of over 1 million back in June 2016.

Yet in the three years since a small, unrepresentative, but asymmetrically powerful group of Remoaner hold-outs – in government, in the Civil Service, in the media, in academe, in the legal profession, in finance, in big business – has thrown so many spanners in the works to try to thwart democracy and to stop Brexit happening that it seems almost miraculous that we’re finally getting out.

But Nigel Farage, speaking on his LBC radio show, was sceptical. He said that the important date to watch out for was October 17, when all the bigwigs in Brussels are meeting. He said that what would most likely happen was that Boris would come back from it with a reheated version of Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement (which meant Britain staying in the EU), and triumphantly present it to Parliament for their approval, and if they didn’t approve it he’d call a General Election.

But Nigel also said yesterday:

“The government’s announcement today makes a confidence motion now certain, a general election more likely and is seen as a positive move by Brexiteers.”

So there are any number of things that might happen. And there’ll probably be lots more storms in teacups over the next couple of months.

Is Boris another Theresa May? I have no idea. But you can’t trust anyone these days.

We’ll only find out at midnight on 31 October whether Britain is really going to leave the EU.  I still don’t think it’s going to happen.

About Frank Davis

smoker
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14 Responses to A Really Really Great Big Storm in a Teacup

  1. decnine says:

    Knavish tricks have been frustrated. God Save the Queen.

  2. beobrigitte says:

    Is Boris another Theresa May? I have no idea. But you can’t trust anyone these days.
    Boris was described as “a little flag in the wind”, backed up with footage that appear to confirm this.
    But then, there is no politician to be trusted.

    We’ll only find out at midnight on 31 October whether Britain is really going to leave the EU. I still don’t think it’s going to happen.
    I still think it will be a partial exit. And I hope I am wrong but I also believe Brexit will deliver us into the hand of the anti-smokers. They are gleefully rubbing their hands, already preparing to go for the vapers:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6563915/
    “As with the tobacco industry’s decades-long effort to undercut tobacco control policy by creating scientific controversy[24], uncertainties deriving from the use of standardized testing methods have been exploited to sow doubt about the harmful nature of waterpipe smoke[25]”

    • jaxthefirst says:

      And I hope I am wrong but I also believe Brexit will deliver us into the hand of the anti-smokers

      Interesting. Why, so, BB? Aren’t we pretty much already in the hands of the anti-smoking brigade in the form of the anti-smoking EU? Wouldn’t Brexit give us the opportunity to make our own decisions about how anti-smoking or otherwise we might want to be? Not, I’ll grant you, that our current crop of politicians seem to be particularly inclined to adopt a fairer approach to the country’s smokers, but at least out of the EU they could if they wanted to. It’s not as if the EU has been at pains to protect smokers’ rights or insist upon fairer or more reasonable treatment, in fact, quite the opposite – they seem to have drunk the Kool Aid every bit as much as all the UK politicians have.

      In an odd sort of way, I’m hopeful that if a no-deal Brexit (or even a rotten-deal Brexit) leads the country into the kind of economic woes that the fearmongers have been hand-wringing over for the last three years (for no other reason than because our arrogant politicians – never believing that the referendum could ever go in any direction than the one they personally preferred – completely failed to put in place any plans for such an event) then they simply won’t have sufficient funds to keep supporting all these currently-fashionable, bleating little single-issue groups like ASH and Action on Sugar and Action on Salt and the AHA etc etc. Neither, hopefully, will they have the time to devote to all their little pet projects and their “friends” in the fake charity sector as they do now, because they’ll be so busy trying to hold everything together and rebuild the economy, i.e. the job for which they were originally elected and which, up until now, they simply haven’t been bothered to do.

      • Rose says:

        I hope Brexit is a huge success and slices off all the worrywarts at a stroke.

      • Frank Davis says:

        “Wouldn’t Brexit give us the opportunity to make our own decisions about how anti-smoking or otherwise we might want to be?”

        That’s what I think too.

        EU politicians (like Gro Harlem Brundtland) seem to have been way ahead of UK politicians in the war on smoking: They declared war on tobacco way back in 1989. And the UK has been dragged along behind ever since. If we do manage to get out, we can decide for ourselves. I think there’s something unEnglish or unBritish about our current draconian (and rather Nazi) smoking bans.

        • But Frank, didn’t you mention how you’d been exposed to some mandatory anti-smoking propaganda at school in the early 60’s (see The Black Lung Mystery)?
          https://cfrankdavis.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/the-black-lung-mystery/

          The UK has been way ahead of e.g. France in this respect: in the school system here (which I left in the early eighties) I never had to endure any lecture on the subject, not even casually, from any teacher.

        • Frank Davis says:

          Yes, I was subjected to antismoking propaganda at school in the early 1960s.

          But I’m not sure that my experience was replicated elsewhere in the British educational system. I went to a public school rather than a state school, and it was an unusual public school because it was a Benedictine monastery school, named after a place in France (Douai). Some of the monks were French (including, naturally, my French teacher).

          Also, the antismoking propaganda I saw came in the form of movies which we didn’t watch during classes, but after classes, and only once or twice. It was an additional input to the standard curriculum, in which I don’t remember any antismoking content.

          To find out whether there was antismoking propaganda in UK state schools in the early 1960s, you’d have to ask someone who went to school in one of them back then. Maybe one or two of my older readers will have the answer.

        • Roobeedoo2 says:

          I went to state schools in the 1970s and early 80s. I didn’t come across any anti-smoking propaganda at school until I took Biology as a separate subject circa 1982.

        • Rose says:

          It was my one and only antismoking lecture at secondary school that eventually led me to take up smoking. They told me that cigarette manufactures put road tar in them and that bothered me for years, up until then I had thought smoking a pointless practice, the same stuff in tobacco was in the other nightshade vegetables just in smaller amounts.
          It turned out that anti tobacco did know that until 1993.

          The Nicotine Content of Common Vegetables
          1993

          The Nicotine Content of Common Vegetables

          To the Editor: The presence of nicotine and its metabolite cotinine in the body fluids of nonsmokers is usually taken as evidence of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied 800 people, both smokers and nonsmokers, all of whom tested positive for urinary continine.

          There is considerable evidence that nicotine is present in certain human foods, especially plants from the family Solanaceae (such as potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant). Castro and Monji;` Sheen,-‘ ” and Davis et al. have reported on the nicotine content of foods and drinks’: We have been able to confirm some of their findings in our laboratory. Gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy-5 were used to determine the nicotine and cotinine content of common vegetables and black tea available from a local supermarket. The vegetables analyzed were tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflower, and green peppers. They were thoroughly washed with tap water, as is done for human consumption. All the vegetables were treated in a similar manner so that any contamination from the tap water would be equally applicable. The vegetables (including their skins) were diced, pureed in a blender, prepared,” and assayed-. Cotinine could not be detected in any of the samples. Measurable amounts of nicotine were found in some of the vegetables (Table 1). Green peppers, black tea, and Ann Arbor city water had no detectable nicotine.

          In indoor air, a low concentration of nicotine from tobacco smoke is about 1 gg per cubic meter. A person weighing 70 kg with a tidal volume of 4 ml per kilogram of body weight breathing 20 times per minute would exchange 5.6 liters of air per minute. If we assume that nicotine is completely absorbed from the lungs, it would take 179 minutes, or about 3 hours, of breathing in an environment with minimal smoke to absorb 1 ug of nicotine. Table 1 shows the amount of each vegetable by wet weight one would have to eat to obtain an amount of nicotine comparable to that of a passive smoker. Of course, the route of absorption is quite different in eating as compared with inhaling. Furthermore, if the vegetables are thoroughly cooked, the nicotine will diffuse into the cooking water and less will be ingested. It appears that the dietary intake of nicotine in nonsmokers may be of practical importance in the interpretation of the role of passive smoke inhalation when one is determining nicotine and cotinine levels in body fluids.

          Edward .Domino M.D Domino M.D. Erich Hornbach, B.A. Tsenge Demana, Ph.D. University of Michigan Ann Arbor. M1 48109

          Vegetable Nicotine in ng/g g per 1µg nicotine
          Cauliflower 16.8 59.5
          Eggplant (Aubergine) 100.0 10
          Potatoes 7.1 140
          Green tomatoes 42.8 23.4
          Ripe tomatoes 4.3 233.0
          Pureed tomatoes 52.0 19.2
          https://web.archive.org/web/20130426142731/http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199308053290619

        • Frank Davis says:

          Rose, when was your one and only antismoking lecture?

        • Rose says:

          Early 70’s at a guess. I know I puzzled over why these visitors would lie about road tar in cigarettes until I stood next to one antismoking poster two many and knew the only way to find out was to take up smoking and see what they were hiding.
          It turns out that they weren’t hiding anything, they really were that dim.

          They were still doing it in 2007

          What’s in a cigarette?

          “Cigarettes don’t just contain nicotine. Each cigarette contains over 4000 toxic chemicals many of which are added to make it more appealing to the consumer. Carbon monoxide is one of the better known ones, but there are others worth mentioning too.”

          Acetic Acid (vinegar)
          Acetone (nail varnish remover)
          Ammonia (cleaning agent)
          Arsenic (ant poison in the USA)
          Benzene (petrol fumes)
          Cadmium (car battery fluid)
          DDT (insecticide)
          Ethanol (anti-freeze)
          Formaldehyde (embalming fluid)
          Hydrogen Cyanide (industrial pollutant)
          Lead (batteries, petrol fumes)
          Methanol (rocket fuel)
          Tar (road surface tar)
          https://web.archive.org/web/20090106012619/http://www.pfizerlife.co.uk/SmokingWhatsInACigarette.aspx

          All the rest can be found in trace amounts in soil, fertilizers or long defunct pesticides, but that road tar is a straight lie.

  3. beobrigitte says:

    Interesting. Why, so, BB? Aren’t we pretty much already in the hands of the anti-smoking brigade in the form of the anti-smoking EU?
    Britain was dictated the smoking ban in 2007, the first smoking ban in Germany, in the Bundesland Bavaria, arrived in 2010 only by the anti-smokers cheating in the public vote. (One cheat was to take people in old folks’ homes out for coffee and cake and persuade them to put the cross next to “Smoking ban” on the ballot paper.)

    Wouldn’t Brexit give us the opportunity to make our own decisions about how anti-smoking or otherwise we might want to be?
    That’s what I initially thought, too. Then I thought of the number of governments in the hands of the anti-smokers and my heart sunk. Britain appears to be far more than e.g. Germany in the grip of anti-smokers. The anti-smokers there are spitting feathers. Out of 16 Bundeslaender only 3 have a total smoking ban, whilst in all others you still find pubs with ashtrays on the table.
    Whilst the EU is anti-smoking, a few of it’s member states are quite resilient and no-one can do anything about that.
    As I have already said, I do desperately hope I am wrong but everything points to the anti-smokers tightening their grip on Britain following Brexit.

    • Frank Davis says:

      It could be that it’s not so much the British government that’s firmly in the hands of antismokers, but rather the British medical profession (as exemplified by Richard Doll, George Godber, Dr W, and countless others). Very arguably the prime drivers of antissmoking were the two post-war Doll and Hill studies, both conducted in Britain by Britons. It was only when another British doctor – Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson – threatened to resign that Tony Blair agreed to a smoking ban in all pubs, not just in ones that sold food.

      The post-war antismoking zealots probably were largely confined to Britain and America, but they seem to have fully overrun the WHO as well, and it may be at this level that they exert pressure on the EU (and on Juncker who is both a smoker and drinker).

      And in the case of Germany and Austria there were probably very few antismoking zealots in the post-war era, thanks to Hitler. In fact, I imagine that even now there is strong resistance to antismoking because of their historical experience.

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