As quite stunning lies go, this nugget from the response to a Number 10 e-petition suggesting the provision of separate smoking rooms in pubs and clubs takes some beating.
Survey data, anecdotal evidence and reports in the media seem to indicate that the impact on the hospitality trade as a whole has been at worst neutral and in many cases positive. We have seen no significant evidence to date that implies that smokefree legislation, either in this country or in others where it has been in place for some years, will create any long-term economic problems for pubs or the hospitality trade in general.
Yep. Nothing but positive news from the hospitality industry since July 2007, eh?
And, of course, according to Number 10, the disaster for pubs, which kicked in well before the economy imploded, has certainly not escalated since.
UK pubs closed at a rate of 52 per week in the first half of the year - a third more than the same period in 2008 - the British Beer & Pub Association said.
Yet while all but the most bigoted anti-smokers within the industry admit that the smoking ban has had a deletorious effect, the Department of Health are still rigidly clinging on to a hearts and flowers view.
Try not to laugh as I repeat this bit.
... the impact on the hospitality trade as a whole has been at worst neutral and in many cases positive.
Now, it was always clear that such a petition would be ignored, despite the fact that the provision of smoking rooms could do nothing but improve the chances of pubs staying open. Moreover, there would be no effect on the health of non-smokers as they would have no need to be in the vicinity of smoking should they choose not to be. It is a 100% win/win.
But a little more honesty in the reply would be desirable (not to mention actually tackling the meat of the petition rather than merely responding to the first sentence). Why not instead say, truthfully, that the EU & WHO are committed to blanket bans and it is out of Westminster's hands? I dunno, perhaps it's an idealistic view, but isn't the point of a democracy the fact that the electorate should be given straight and honest answers by their representatives and assistants? Or are bare-faced, transparent lies the order of the 21st century?
Actually, don't answer that.
Trivia: Godwin stopped me titling this 'Government Pub Holocaust Deniers'