Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Just When You Thought It Was Safe ...

Iain Dale is pretty certain about upcoming cabinet positions.

First Cabinet Posts Announced

HEALTH: Andrew Lansley
Yes, the same Andrew Lansley who dismissed Conservative Home's poll which suggested an amendment to the smoking ban was favourable to a majority of conservatives, let alone the rest of us.

My understanding, however, is that Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley - a great believer in public health - does not want to return to the issue.
Yes, the same Lansley who (whether you enjoy tobacco or not) wants to make 'help' you give up in more inventive ways.

Mr Lansley said that, under the pharmacy contract, it was intended that pharmacists would help smokers who have not been targeted by their GPs, and stressed the importance of using the sector more in the provision of NHS smoking cessation services.
Indeed, the same Andrew Lansley who was recently paid £114 per day by the pharmaceutical industry until Private Eye highlighted it.

Meanwhile in a double whammy, someone who used to be paid by big tobacco, Ken Clarke, is shoved out.

Come on now! You didn't really think anything was seriously going to change, did you?

Meet the new boss, same as ... well, you get the idea.

(Best start a new tag for Lansley as I think I'm going to need it ... oh yeah, and 'Change? What change?' too)


subrosa said...

That appointment did surprise me Dick. Fortunately we won't have him here although Ms Sturgeon will be a hard nut to crack on the issue too.

Mr. A said...

Now the Labour lunatics have finally decided to leave the building and while I still have much spleen to vent after 13 years of madness, I have a feeling my attention will be directed towards Lansley. We need a common sense, no-bullshit person in Health, someone with a backbone and the brains to see through ASH and the balls to put the BMA in their place. I have nothing against "stop smoking" services - if people CHOOSE to get patches (useless as they are) for free, then fine. But the propagandising, the denormalising, the advertising needs to stop. Hopefully, even if he is a nanny, as a Tory he won't be COMPLETELY swivel-eyed, so when that axe comes to cut funding he won't be protecting his "smokefree baby" from its heavy blade like Liebour would have done.

That said, I'm still of the opinion that if this Government wants to make a splash, a minor change to the smoking ban would be the answer. If they exempted private clubs they could easily counter antis by saying, "Are you a member of a club? No? Then shut up" or "Yes, well you get a vote in your club... or do you not like democracy?" Also it's such a small amendment it wouldn't be a big deal for the Beeb etc to crow about "Going back to the old days / Tories in the pay of Big Tobacco." It would simply sneak through, clubs would be saved and many pubs would, eventually, undoubtedly implement some kind of "signing in" system where you could instantly join their club (like porn cinemas did in the 70s). You repeal the ban essentially, but with none of the political fallout of actually repealing it. It only takes one chink for the whole thing to collapse.

Do that, bring in the repeal bill (with stuff like ID cards being gone by tomorrow) and implement the Lib Dems' £10000 tax threshold and you've already got a tailwind of measures that even the dumbest Labour voter might notice and think, "Wow, in a month my life is already better." Add the smoking ban and you have a good head of positive steam to colour people's opinions of you and what you stand for before you have to start making the inevitable and unpopular cuts.

Still, won't happen with Lansley there. I shall make it my life's work to see him out.

Mr. A said...

And believe me, I know many on the blogosphere are only on the blogospere BECAUSE of the ban (like myself), but have no doubt it is "The Unmentionable Policy that shall not be named" to the political classes. The antis, while few, are exceptionally loud and well-placed, and it's too easy to smear with "babies dying" lies, "It's a backwards step" and smearing about nasty ol' Big Tobacco. I can't see it being completely repealed unless we get a true libertarian in power. But repealing it for private clubs (and "accidentally" not closing loopholes for pubs to declare themselves as "clubs" with a simple signing in policy, for example) is relatively easy to push through. It's a (supposedly) tiny amendment, it was in Labour's original manifesto (thus defusing party political options for attack), yet as pubs cottoned on it would keep 15 million smokers (and their tolerant friends) happy, it couldn't be blamed directly on the Tories by the antis, and it would have a big impact on those Labourites who only think politically when it's time to collect their giros - even THEY might suddenly appreciate that freedom was hated by Labour.

It only takes one step for the ban to collapse - a small step could be taken and not backfire. I hope they consider it.

AntiCitizenOne said...

> If people CHOOSE to get patches (useless as they are) for free, then fine.

I look forward to patch manufacturers donating these nicotine patches then.

Junican said...

@ Mr A.

Of course, you are right, but I think that we will have to be more patient. I think that there is more likely to be an atmosphere of realism in the Tory cabinet. I think that it will be far more difficult for Lansley to push social change through the cabinet than it was with labour. I hope and expect that civil liberties will become more relevant. He might well be told that BANS are not the Health Dept's business. Certainly, a good way to cut the cost of the NHS would be to make them concentrate on their core responsibilities - fixing broken bones and curing illnesses. I agree, for example, that it is not the job of the NHS to look after old people who cannot cope - that is a Social Services job. Of course, the services of the NHS may well be involved, but the primary responsibility lies with social services. Clarification of these matters is urgently needed.
What department might the smoking ban come under if not Health? Well, via what department was the hunting ban introduced? I do not know, and I have had difficulty finding out. There is a mention 'Environment', but I am not sure.
Would it not be great if Cameron introduced a Civil Liberties dept? Chances of that? Minuscule, I suppose. But, he did make reference to civil liberties a couple of days ago, and he is making a lot of noise about 'personal responsibilities'.
But think of the opportunities for economic activity if the ban was amended in such a way that small bars and clubs were made exempt, and big hotels, restaurants and pubs could have smoking areas. At a stroke, the closed pubs which were magnificent edifices would be replaced by little bars such as exist in most European countries. Think of the number of jobs that would be created at a stroke! Of course, the big health scare of second hand smoke needs to be countered, but that would not be a problem. It only takes one person in government to stand up and say, "Well, the statistics seem to indicate that there is a small risk, but it is very small. Statistically, there is a greater risk from falling off horses - in the sense of being killed" That is all it takes - one person in authority. The whole secondhand smoke edifice would collapse.
Note the importance of the phrase, "being killed".

Mr. A said...

True Junican, but it only takes a few people in power to say AGW is bollocks for it to collapse, but while there are billions of pounds and hundreds of organisations all screeching at the top of their voices in favour of it the myth stands. And unfortunately I don't see any friendly Russians releasing incriminating emails as they did with CRU (and even if they did, I can't see anyone except the bloggers taking up the story, and the bloggers know all the facts about SHS anyway).

That's what frustrates me about the Ban - the truth about SHS and ASH etc is all there in the open but it just doesn't get exposed. In fact, even though I'm a smoker I only got involved in fighting the Ban a year after it came in, once I heard Al-jaBeeba reporting on Pell and I thought, "Hang on, there is no methodology on Earth they can use to get that" and I looked up the paper online, which led to another and another and then I realised what an absolute fraud the whole SHS thing is.

But re: repeal/amendments: I've always argued small pubs = choice, big pubs = smoking and non-smoking rooms (as in Spain) would be a relatively easy sell, too. You can use freedom of choice as an argument of course but still claim to be discouraging smoking, you can argue it aligns us with our European neighbours etc etc.

But that's the problem. I saw one (obviously smarting) Labour MEP saying the Ban was the third most discussed issue on the doorstep in the Euro elections. Has that feeling now gone away? I don't think so - even many of my non-smoking friends who welcomed the ban in 2007 now see it as a mistake and want it repealed. But to politicians the whole issue just seems to be taboo. No-one will ever discuss it. Hell, the Tories even advocated the ban on fox hunting being lifted and that is a far, far more contentious issue than smoking in pubs (especially with the Tory toff millstone hanging around their necks). Yet not a squeak on the smoking ban. Unreal.

Mr. A said...

Also, the Ban is probably under Health as it was part of the Health Act 2006.

Leg-iron said...

Subrosa - what is it with the SNP and fish names?

But Andy Pandy as health monster? What is Cameroid thinking? I'll revise that - is Cameroid thinking?

If he has to call another election soon, there is no way the smokers, drinkers and tubbies will vote his way.

He's still not getting it.

Specky said...

There will be no cuts to front line services.
Uhhhh !
They are not what I would deem front line now ,are they ?

woman on a raft said...

Lansley was thought to be a leadership contender at one point but a stroke put paid to that.

The treatment he received in hospital was very good, despite him being a known Conservative. It converted him to an uncritical fan of the NHS, as such experiences sometimes do, and this makes him unusually acceptable to the health unions and medical associations.

Whilst I agree with you in every philosophical particular, I can understand how someone who has had a stroke may go over-board on the idea that they've got to save everyone from themselves.

It's a deep emotional response, but unlike control freakery it at least is based on giving a damn about what happens to the next person. Sometimes it is the right thing to do, but othertimes it crosses the line of civil liberties by trying to stop people doing things which are wholly within their own discretion.

Keep pushing - you will win your argument. The first thing is to tot up how much the fake charities are costing the NHS and tell Lansley he can buy more stroke after-care nurses if he stops giving the money away to fake charities which don't help a single person get their mobility back.

Anonymous said...

Theresa May as Home Secretary. Don't know much about her to be honest (I was hoping for Davies) but her record on TheyWorkforYou isn't too bad. Voted moderately against ID cards and smoking ban, strongly against more EU integration and hunting ban, voted against terror laws, voted strongly for Trident.

As I say I don't know much about her, but on paper at least she desn't look TOO bad.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Fuck 'em all.

Re WOAR's point, the NHS have learned their lesson after they let Michael Howard's mum (or was it mum-in-law?) die of e coli or c diff or something, had be become PM they'd have received no mercy from him.

Which is why all politicos and their relativese now get A1 tip-top service.

Pat Nurse said...

Well, some smokers wanted to be turkeys at Xmas despite being warned that the NuCons were just as bigotted as NuLab. You get what you pay for after all. I guess we're all ConDem-med now. Thanks a lot!

Anonymous said...

What I wonder about this Pharmacy thing is how do they find out if you smoke.
And if they do then what ?
I need more info on this ?
What exactly do they mean ?
Is it just a buck passing exercise from GP's .
So a local pharmacist knocks on my door.
I doubt it.
It is all a bit vague really at the moment.
We smokers need to keep an eye on this one.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Great comments guys and gals. And WOAR, I sincerely hope you're correct about winning the argument.

Mrs Rigby said...

WOAR is right. Keep pushing.

Freedom of choice - not too much to ask for, is it?

Anonymous said...

anon 15.10 - probably means that if you are buying some NRT, they'll try to sign you up - at least I hope that's all it means: wouldn't like to think that a list of smokers is being taken from the GPs' lists and handed to the local pharmacy! God no, surely those bad old days have gone.....


Anonymous said...

Does anyone honestly believe that Lansley gives a stuff about the civil liberties of smokers. Organisations, especially LIBERTY, is not remotely interested in supporting the civil liberty of smokers, they cherry pick what civil liberties they will support, now if all terrorists smoked and complained that smoking stops the stress while carrying out their attacks, that they were being discriminated against because of it they'd have the full backing of shami, and the politicans.

The Tories have already reneged on their promise to repeal the Human Rights Act, nothing about ditching the medical database which they said they would, but they can't do it because it comes from the EU, the database is to go Europe wide in time. So hoping for something where the smoking ban experiment is concerned is a very slim hope and no hope.

Anonymous said...

Yet not a squeak on the smoking ban. Unreal.

Mice & men come to mind.

Apparently men ahouls have two balls, the ones that have just left office and the ones who've just enetered don't have one between them.

Perhaps it's a requirement of being a politican, ball removal.

As for the women, just dizzy dots in kitten heels. And I say this as a woman, they're an embarrassment to all decent women.

PaulD said...

The LibCons should consider a more radical approach. Instead of slicing a little piece off the smoking laws they could launch an all-embracing assault on the dozens of meddlesome orders introduced by Labour.

From no-smoking signs to CRB madness to hunting, they could pledge, if not a bonfire of the lot, a thorough overhaul with a view to amending or ditching any law that causes an unreasonable loss of freedom.

A new libertarian principle would then be established which over-rides the petty arguments in favour of any particular prohibition.

It would be a radical statement supporting the "smaller state" concept they both seem to believe in. But would they have the guts to do it?