While there, I was able to check back at a discussion - on my really crappy android, grr - which had been developing yesterday over at Liberal Vision. And boy was it entertaining!
I only dabbled briefly last night and thought it would have died a death by now, but bugle calls for the anti-tobacco galacticos are becoming more regular, it would seem.
This contribution from 'Martin' would have been funny enough on its own for its almost satirical ignorance of irony.
[quoting Dave Atherton] "Martin, you wouldn’t be Martin Dockrell, Head of Policy at ASH, would you? If so I salute you for posting comments outside of working hours."That's right. Everyone who suspects tobacco control industry involvement in defence of ASH must be a conspiracy theorist ... followed by a comment which, err, suspects industry involvement in any comment which "disagrees with [Martin's] opinion".
Congratulations! You’ve outed yourself as a conspiracy theorist – how could anyone who possibly disagrees with your opinion be anyone other than someone working for THEM?
All you fools doing the paid or unpaid work of the tobacco companies should bugger off to a more apt website
Comedy gold, huh?
But it gets better. Because a short while later, who turns up but CRUK rent-a-gob Robert West.
Some of the posts above have all the hallmarks of an orchestrated attack by the tobacco industry which is deeply concerned that the activities of ASH will damage their revenues.Yes. You really did read that correctly.
In defence of ASH - who receive government funds, which the article was about - an employee of CRUK stood up and showed himself to be a 'conspiracy theorist' in Martin's parlance, by accusing those who disagree with his all-encompassing greatness of being in the pay of the tobacco industry.
Despite the fact that he should be careful of throwing stones around his glass house.
From time to time, we do receive a small amount of government funding, ring-fenced for specific projects. For example, in 2003 the Dept of Health gave us two and a half million pounds to develop anti-tobacco campaigns.Man working for government-funded anti-smoking organisation defends government-funded anti-smoking organisation by accusing others of having financially-motivated interests. Which don't actually exist.
You think that's the end of it? Not on your nelly.
ASH's Martin Dockrell pops in to wave his little flag.
It does seem to me that Mr A resembles Dave Atherton in the style, content and length of his posts and I understand Dave has used a range of pseudonyms.No conspiracy theory there, then.
Of course, this will be a reverberation from Debs "what's wrong with denormalising smokers?" Arnott's green room rant on something as inconsequential as 'not an expert, Dave' Atherton using the username of Dr Dave on CiF.
By contrast, Dockrell is most definitely an expert ... in fully paid PR advocacy.
My views on front groups can be found in [link]Because anyone who disagrees with Martin Dockrell is a 'front group' and while he's there he may as well publicise ASH's recent report which was taken up by just about no-one.
Please do read the whole thread because there is so much more fun to be had. The woolly lib who thought it intellectual debate to ridicule the article author's name; the 'outraged' Lib Dem who came armed with typical tobacco control soundbites; some guy called Militant throwing 'man not the ball' aspersions like confetti, including this ...
Be the way, on the subject of posting under real names, is little Mr Puddlecote really called Puddlecote?Quite the detective, eh?
Then we have Jen. Aww, good old, respected, 'public health doctor' Jen. Or, as per the rules laid down by 'Martin', a conspiracy theorist.
It is likely that many of the bloggers above are linked in a concrete way with the tobacco industry. Unlike me, they won’t say who they are.We'll look for 'Jen' in the phone book then, shall we?
And, as a final curtain call, Linda Bauld joins the party. You may have heard of her.
I am a social policy academic, as you know, and much of our research is government funded or funded by charities, or indeed funded by government through the research councils. The university receives these funds, not the academics. This is how university research funding works across the country and indeed in other countries.So, her university benefits by Bauld continuing to be a helpful source for their funders. Yes, we kinda knew that.
To recap. Anyone who derides ASH on a thread about how the nature of their funding suggests that they cannot possibly be impartial, are obviously in the pay of tobacco and therefore their opinion should be ignored. While those who are openly paid to promote anti-tobacco policies are just doing the Lord's work and should be trusted implicitly.
I know it's a hackneyed phrase, but ... you really couldn't make this stuff up.
It's encouraging that an industry which has steadfastly refused to debate in any way with detractors over the years - and has silenced all opposition via the WHO FCTC - should feel it increasingly important to dive into relatively sparsely-read online comments sections.
Personally, I welcome it, the astonishing astroturfing references are superb grist. We should all do it much more often.
Is that a rattled cage I can hear?