We now know the public consultation on plain packaging has been fixed to deliver the result Lansley's crowd are expecting, thereby confirming that Sir Humphreys exist in abundance even in this era of faux transparent government.
"A basic rule of government is ... never set up an inquiry unless you know in advance what its findings will be."The findings of people paid to find exactly what they have been paid to find is one thing. It can be challenged if the bias of those doing the 'finding' is obvious ... which it will be.
However, they would still point to the 'evidence' as being a cast-iron back up for their 'expert' opinion. The problem is that the (pfft) expert evidence is cut of the same cloth.
Here is the document (pdf).
The first thing you might notice if you do a word search on it is that the lead author, Crawford Moodie, is referenced 80 times in all in the review. This is because it is mostly a collection of studies conducted by the people who wrote the bloody thing. Studies either authored or co-authored by fellow lead names Linda Bauld, Ann McNeil, Kathryn Angus and Gerard Hastings, are also quoted as sources of *cough* independent research.
As far as I can see, out of the 37 studies
If such woeful bias is allowable for something as important as a systematic evidence review, I think I'll have to pitch for my own slice of the easy money. I can find 37 articles saying the whole idea is crap. OK, so 16 were written by me and my mates, but what the hell? It's 'science', innit.
Look a bit deeper and you'll notice even more cliquey manipulation.
The authors would like to thank ... Dave Hammond for his contribution to the development of the protocol.Yeah, I haven't a scooby what 'development of the protocol' means either, except that it sounds like someone casting their eye over the methodology.
Perhaps that's why Hammond - who is almost certainly going to be one of the aforementioned expert subjective assessors - is mentioned 83 times in the review, with no less than 12 studies by him being cited. What a big head, eh?
Other names you might recognise as source material are renowned impartial 'scientists' Deborah Arnott, Martin Dockrell and Simon Chapman.
The review states that they filtered the studies from a starting list of 4,518 citations. How bad the others must have been to leave just 37 which were predominantly authored by the same people conducting the review can only be guessed at. Scribblings on the back of a fag packet, presumably. Is tobacco control really that bad, or are these people just advancing their one-sided agenda under a cloak of impartiality?
I have my own opinion, but will leave you to decide.
What makes it even worse is that four of the names at the top of the review are quoted as being from the Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI). These are meant to be independent reviewers of accuracy and rigour. EPPI is referenced throughout to give a cosy, scrupulous sheen to the
Except that - considering the high level of self-referencing going on - the EPPI's own guidelines have not so much been broken as shattered.
A protocol is one component of an open, consultative approach to undertaking reviews. It is also argued that if the review's methods are defined explicitly at the start of the review, reviewers are less likely to be influenced by, for example, their knowledge of study authors or by study findings.Knowledge of study authors and findings doesn't get more acute than being the people who wrote them, surely. And I don't believe there is much in the text to say something like "this is a review which we wrote about some of our own work" by way of defining 'explicitly' what is going on here.
Perhaps the EPPI lot were just eating doughnuts and chatting about what they watched at the cinema last weekend while tobacco control's prime tax spongers were concocting over a hundred pages of steaming horse shit. It certainly doesn't appear that they did much examination, but then perhaps that wasn't demanded by gimp Lansley's whip-handlers at the Department of Health.
So, thus far, we have a proposal which wasn't in any manifesto; government shovelling artic-loads of money towards lobbying itself; an evidence review which includes tobacco control referencing their own (already paid for) fantasies; and a set of expert opinions to be taken from the same people who imagined, demanded, got paid for advancing, and submitted biased 'evidence' for, plain packaging of tobacco.
Now, if you can see any involvement of just one member of the public in that democratic process, you're a better man than me, Gunga Din.