Monday, 16 April 2012

"Not The Reputable Ones, But There Aren't Many Of Those"

So, the public sector consultation has begun on plain packaging. If you have already signed up to the Hands Off Our Packs campaign, your objection will be registered - if you haven't signed up yet, please do so here.

As usual, the government have buttoned everything up in their favour beforehand. They will go through the usual motions of listening to the public but they don't really want to do anything of the sort.

For example, on the 8th of March, CRUK were invited to Westminster.
Yesterday the Policy department headed to Westminster to host an expert briefing on the plain packaging of tobacco products. The event was attended by Peers and MPs from across the three parties to learn more about the evidence behind our campaign.

Attendees heard from Professor Robert West, Director of Tobacco Studies at the CR-UK Health Behaviour Research Centre at UCL (University College London), and Peter Astley MBE, Head of Public Protection at Warrington Borough Council. They discussed the evidence base for plain packs and dispelled some myths around smuggling.
Needless to say, no similar invite was extended to anyone who opposes Lansley's policy. Nor would any request be entertained - the government doesn't want to hear anything negative, you see.

Accompanying the announcement of the public sector consultation was a document - a weighty and generally impenetrable 116 pages, as is customary - detailing all the 'research' so far collated on plain packaging. Well, I say all of it, but in actual fact it is just those studies deemed relevant by the authors.
A total of 4,518 citations were identified following initial searching, and after screening and quality appraisal 37 studies were included.
You would presume that those authors would be entirely impartial, wouldn't you? If so, you still haven't properly understood the modern machinations of government.

It was produced [PDF doc here] by some of the biggest anti-smoking professionals in the country including Gerard Hastings and Linda Bauld, and proudly endorsed by the University of Stirling who - you may remember - are so biased and compromised in their hatred of tobacco that they refuse to obey Freedom of Information requests.

As such, the words 'civil', 'liberty' and 'freedom' don't appear even once between them on any of those pages.

It's how government rolls these days - or the Department of Health at least - with exactly the same cherry-picking of 'experts' going on with the current alcohol strategy consultation sham.

And as if Lansley hasn't already recruited enough lackeys to kiss his reddened backside after the Health Bill, ASH and YouGov - a partnership which has never produced a poll which is remotely objective, nor ever intended one to be - will no doubt further point the dozy clown to their recent offering claiming 62% support from the public. Despite the fact that generally anti-tobacco Guardian readers prove it to be nonsense by their 80% deep cynicism and derision in the comments.

ASH's Deborah "Confidence Trickster" Arnott has gone on record explaining exactly how such results are achieved. In Hansard, no less.
Dr Stoate: You will have heard the question from Charlotte Atkins that one of the Government's contentions is that smoking in public places is popular and therefore should be allowed to continue. We understand ASH has done a number of surveys gauging public opinion. Can you tell us more about the results of your surveys?

Ms Arnott: It does depend a bit how you word it.
Indeed. As explained very astutely by Sir Humphrey.

So, a done deal then, and a corrupt and anti-democratic one at that.

Well, perhaps, but if that ends up being the case we jewel robbers will have plenty to say about it come the time. Till then though, it's still worth throwing a few rocks at the consultation to make things uncomfortable for these state-funded fraudsters.

There is a precedent, you see. Last year, a consultation on e-cigs was embarrassed by the public derision at a recommendation by the MHRA to ban them prior to regulation. Each reply was published in full by pdf and the pre-determined outcome stalled by government falsehoods being visibly countered. There's nothing a politician hates more than a record of his mendacity being in the public domain.

So I'd urge you, as well as signing up to Hands Off Our Packs, to submit a full response to the consultation itself.

There is plenty of time to do so as it doesn't close until July 10th, and I can help you along. Remember those 'myths' that CRUK were invited to London to dispel, along with others spouted by the massed ranks of people paid to make us that bit more oppressed and denormalised? Well, one has already been proven conclusively to be true, and the others are just as dodgy.

I will put up a few posts detailing why all of them are flawed very soon. One by one. You can use any or all of them to submit a personal response and get your name right under Lansley's arrogant nose. By doing so, you'll also be pissing on tobacco control's chips for their hideous temerity in using your taxes to shaft you with lies and deceit, while attempting to exclude you from the whole process.

If you're up for countering venal fake charity self-enrichment, tax-sponging liberty takers and corrupt government, keep 'em peeled here.


Jay said...

Would recommend avoiding the online web-form consulation and e-mailing your own version, because the online one is borked with limited choice.  If anyone needs help, get in touch.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Or do both as the online one gives you a record. Writing to your MP, however stupid he/she is, is also encouraged. If nothing else, their near mandatory response is something to wave around for the future where we hold them to account for their crass gullibility. 

Carpe Zytha said...

Jeez, get with the program. Junkies get their methodone for free. One fags are prescription only you guys are quids in.

The Man With Many Chins said...

That's that one filled out in a suitably scathing manner then :-)

Smoking Scot said...

It's very frustrating, knowing that those most likely to object are also the least likely to even have access to a computer.

25% of UK households. And that does not include those living in DHSS accommodation.

They stress frequently that smoking rates are highest amongst the unskilled and the least well off.

How on earth can they claim to use data gathered by You Gov if they know perfectly well that it's not even remotely representative of the target group they seek to assist (rhetorical - sorry).

It's all so very middle class and that's one reason why I detest the people behind this scam.

lleweton said...

I think my MP has put me into a slot as a loveable eccentric who can be indulged but ignored - probably true in our constituency. He knows that if he would support an amendment of the ban as it affects pubs he would have my vote. He can't contemplate doing that and I therefore will vote UKIP, which, again, I think he finds a rather eccentric idea. I still get his and the Tory party mailings and I occasionally reply with my call for an amendment of the smoking ban in pubs. The national set-up never replies. Sad, because I think my MP is a decent sort. The trouble is that the Ashite propaganda has created a dense and thorny stockade to repel all reasonable argument. It's also sad that I did have a guarded hope the Conservatives might remedy some of the restrictions but I wonder now whether we have an amorphous  ruling class which operates within the apparent ruling class which is comprised of all the main parties. I fear that officialdom, in all its manifestations, is always governed by an instinct for its own preservation. I hope that in time it become clear to our rulers that it is in their own interest to listen to us.

Lysistrata Eleftheria said...

 Smoking Scot, you are absolutely right about these YouGov surveys.

In particular, this 'portmanteau' method they use: loads of questions about vastly different subjects, and firms buy into one or two questions.

It is deeply flawed, not only because of the bias you rightly note towards people with access to a computer (apparently they take the class bias into account and are supposed to weight their findings); but it is also biased towards only those people who have signed up for a fee each time they respond to one of the long YouGov portmanteau surveys. Many good and normal people haven't come across the fact they can register with YouGov, or they have but have more interesting or pressing things to do with their lives, and I haven't seen any evidence that they weight their findings taking that into account.

And I haven't even got started on the design faults in the questions themselves and background information...hell, even free basic level SurveyMonkey's free tutorial downloads could teach YouGov a lot about question design.

But of course, the 'opinion research' isn't designed to find the truth, is it? It's designed to give the results that the client has already paid for. And YouGov will advise them professionally on just how to ask questions and analyse the answers to produce the results the client wants. Every time.

Flawed research? You bet. And it's not just smoking that YouGov runs commissioned surveys on and that our governments make decisions on. Which is scary.

Smoking Scot said...

Yea Gads! That's terrifying... truely it is.

Had a chat this morning with my painter/decorator. He smokes roll-up's out of a Golden Virginia pouch. That's not what's inside it he tells me, he gets it from a mate at £3 a refill. Cheered me up because it's one of those 50g jobbies!

He does have a computer but it's for his children. He doesn't much care to use it for browsing, just e-mails; leaves it to the wife or kids for things like cheap flights and such.

Never heard of the blogs and sort of goes blank at the idea of fighting it.

The guy - he's late 40's - adapts and I suspect that's what the anti's rely on.

(I note the SNP use YouGov to show how the Scots are slowly begining to favour independence. Now I know why.)


Lynladd said...

Wrote to my MP couple of weeks ago, but not yet had a response!