Britain is in a political crisis as the Remainers in Parliament desperately try to prevent Brexit on 31 October. It’s a political crisis that started when 17.41 million Britons voted three years ago to leave the EU.
Or that’s the conventional wisdom.
But in my personal experience, this is actually a political crisis that began on 1 July 2007, when smoking in public places was banned in Britain, and Britain’s smokers were exiled to the outdoors.
I think it’s a political crisis when about 13 million people become unwelcome in their own country. For that’s how I’ve felt ever since 1 July 2007: unwelcome in my own country. And I think that’s how anyone, anywhere in the world, is always going to feel if they become unwelcome in their own country.
The only thing that’s different about me is that I write about this experience. Most people don’t write about things. They’re not used to putting thoughts into written words. But I started writing as soon as my mother taught me to write, which was shortly after she taught me to read. My mother was a teacher who also taught me to add and subtract and multiply and divide. So I’ve been reading and writing and adding and subtracting and multiplying and dividing for the 60+ years ever since.
And in my experience the smoking ban of 1 July 2007 was the most terrible, shattering thing that happened in my entire life. It shattered pub communities all over Britain, including mine. And it shattered friendships as well. Over the next few years I lost all the friends that I had known for the previous 30 or more years, either because there was nowhere to meet them any more, or because they had become antismokers while I had remained a smoker. The smoking ban of 1 July 2007 also shattered my faith in the medical profession, and in science, and in the mainstream media, and in all the political parties, as I became an outcast in my own land.
And so I see Brexit as a consequence of that shatteringly divisive smoking ban. For I’m an English smoker who voted to leave the EU because it was an antismoking organisation. For up until I discovered in 2010 that the EU was one of the primary drivers behind smoking bans, I was actually in favour of it. As soon as I found out how deeply antismoking the EU really was, my rejection of it was instantaneous.
In fact, I think that the EU is a doomed political project for this reason alone. For what smoker anywhere in Europe is going to want to belong to the antismoking EU? What surer way is there to shatter a political union than by turning it against a quarter or a third of its own population? But this is what has been happening all over Europe in the last decade or so. Nobody should be in the least bit surprised that the rising tide of what’s called National Populism is led by people who happen to be smokers (Farage, Le Pen, Salvini). And what else are the French Yellow Vests than the revolt of French smokers against the virulently antismoking Emmanuel Macron?
And isn’t the current political crisis in the USA also the revolt of American smokers against the progressive (i.e. antismoking) Left? Wasn’t the rejection of Hillary Clinton a consequence of the fact that she was America’s Number One antismoker?
I can’t speak of other countries in the world, but it seems to me to be very likely that the exact same political divide – between smokers and antismokers – has arisen everywhere else, and that nearly all politics everywhere is now driven by this divide. And that is why the whole world is now in crisis.
But nobody ever says this. Nobody ever points it out. If there’s one thing that you can be sure that the MPs in the UK Parliament will not be talking about over the next few rancorous weeks, it’ll be the UK smoking ban of 1 July 2007. Even Nigel Farage, who actively campaigns against smoking bans, won’t be talking about it on his LBC radio show.
The EU could save itself if it could just end its war on Europe’s smokers. But it remains blissfully ignorant of the effect of that war on European unity, and so it will continue the war. And it’s probably not really the EU’s war on smokers, but instead the medical profession’s war on smokers. The war on smoking is really being run by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has co-opted the EU, and almost every government in the world. The EU is being led to its extinction by the WHO and the UN to which it belongs.
If most people can’t see this, it’s because most people don’t smoke, and so have no idea of the tremendous impact of smoking bans on smokers, and the burning rage many of them feel about them. They think that smoking bans are benign, innocuous “health measures”. They think that because smoking bans have no effect on non-smokers like them, they can’t possibly be having any effect on anyone else either. But the war on smokers is as much a war as has ever been fought against any enemy, and it’s as divisive as any other war. And many of the consequences of this war have yet to be experienced.
For if the EU is likely to be one of the first casualties of the war that it has launched on Europe’s smokers, the next casualty is likely to be the medical profession that has been driving the war from within the safety of the confines of the WHO. For there will need to be a reformation of the medical profession to purge it of the antismokers that have come to infest it (one of whom was the Dr W in whose house I once lived, and about whom I have often written). The medical profession is going to have to be purged of antismoking doctors like Dr W, and George Godber, and Richard Doll, and Liam Donaldson, and Gro Harlem Brundtland, and Dame Sally Davies (Britain’s current Chief Medical Officer), and all the rest of them. It may well be that the WHO and the BMA and the RCP will simply have to be closed down, and replaced by new medical associations free of the antismoking virus. It will be an event as momentous as the Dissolution of the Monasteries in Britain in 1536, when many thousands of monks and nuns and friars lost the respect and status they had formerly enjoyed, and found themselves evicted from their wealthy and powerful monasteries, which thereafter fell into decay and ruin.
I have no idea whether Britain will leave the EU on 31 October. I’m still inclined to believe that it won’t, even if PM Boris Johnson is showing every sign of being determined to do so. But what I am sure is that the underlying global political division that has grown out of the global war on smokers is going to carry on deepening, and finding more and more surprising new expressions.