On certain matters, the inherited Puddlecote memory is almost elephantine**. Today is a fine example, as, after reading an astonishing document earlier, the first thing that jumped into my head was Tom Harris (it was a tight squeeze), regarding something he said on his blog in October.
But the Department of Health recently held a consultation on whether the smoking ban should be extended into people’s private vehicles and homes. Now, I know this caused a great deal of perfectly understandable outrage among a lot of people. So let me make this clear: the government will not, under any circumstances, legislate to stop people smoking in private. It would be a crazy move and, believe it or not, ministers are not crazy people - they’re politicians and they recognise political realities.
And if they did attempt to legislate in this direction, I would risk the wrath of those who don’t believe Scottish MPs should vote on English matters by voting against it.
But as I say, I won’t need to, because it’s not going to happen.
Now, I quite like Tom's blog, he seems a decent enough chap, but surprisingly for a Labour politician, he possesses a semblance of common sense which he believes others in his profession share. If the prospect wasn't so incredibly terrifying, it would almost be worth Labour getting back in just to see if Tom would be true to his word on his voting intentions. Because, let's be in no doubt, if Labour were to secure a fourth term, banning smoking in cars and homes would most definitely be on their agenda.
In Jockland, the process has already started. In the beating heart of puritannical Britain, it's not if, but when.
Just published is this document, reporting on how 112 anti-tobacco professionals are working out how best to tip-toe through the subject of banning smoking in your own home.
Action to achieve smoke-free homes- an exploration of experts' views.
Needless to say, no opposing view is invited to this particular focus group.
In order to help inform the development of effective action on this issue, this paper explores the views of people working in tobacco control, at the local and national level in Scotland, about the potential for and feasibility of creating smoke-free homes.
There is no discussion of whether this is the correct thing to do. All they are concerned with is working out how to go about it.
On the one hand the home is a private space and there is some resistance found in the ethical debates inherent in public health literature to the blurring of the public/private boundary for smoke-free public health interventions. This is often articulated by libertarian arguments advocating the rights of smokers in their own home and opposing perceived encroachment of the State into private space.
On the one had the home is a private space? What other hand is there, exactly? I also liked the part about the encroachment of the state into private space being merely 'perceived'. No, it's real, because that is exactly what they are sitting around a table to work towards. I don't 'perceive' that they are doing it, I can see with my own fucking eyes that they are.
The conclusion, as if we were in any doubt what 112 people paid by the state to persecute smokers would say, is.
We, the authors, would argue that a clear goal of smoke-free homes should be advocated but that this approach should be located within tobacco control practice that is both sensitive to inequalities and gendered lives.
Now, Tom Harris said that this would be a crazy idea. He said that ministers are not crazy people. Yet who is paying for this nonsense?
This study was funded by NHS Health Scotland and the Scottish Executive.
We know full well that Scotland is a testing ground for every daft law that eventually migrates south under this administration, and here we have the scottish government funding a bunch of interfering chimps (who they already pay to be interfering chimps) to investigate how to invade our homes.
If Harris is correct and politicians aren't that stupid, then why is this line of enquiry being funded? Who is in charge? Our elected representatives, the health professionals, or the civil servants in the respective departments of health?
In a perverse kind of way, one almost hopes that it is the politicians who are more stupid than Tom Harris can bring himself to believe. At least then we can be mildly reassured that some form of democracy is still prevalent in the UK. The alternative is rather more scary to contemplate.
**I may have made that word up
H/T F2C blog