Here we go again, pointing out how the plain packaging campaign is being, well, shall we say disingenuous?
We've already seen how they rigged the consultation by choosing anti-smokers to evaluate the results. They also rigged the consultation by only using evidence from the very same people who are campaigning for plain packaging, and again by excluding government departments who - despite having a very clear interest - might not give the 'correct' responses.
And, as if that wasn't enough, the Department of Health also shovelled half a million quid of your taxes to Smokefree South West to help them with their campaign, commonly termed 'government lobbying government' ... because that is precisely what it is.
It makes you wonder if these people cheat at cards too.
The latest addition to the long list of dodgy tactics employed by the plain packs campaign is revealed by Simon Clark today, detailing how Stephen Williams and his chums in the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health have been deliberately misleading MPs (otherwise known as doing a Lord Darzi).
[...] it's the incident recorded in the first letter (subsequently released under FOI) that has led to charges of petition "rigging" and "cheating".Just so we don't get off on the wrong foot, it is the plain packaging campaign accusing others of 'rigging' and 'cheating' here. No, really! Stop laughing.
And the source of those accusations? Why, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health, administered by ASH and chaired by our old friend Stephen Williams MP who helped launch the Plain Packs Protect campaign.
The APPG disseminates 'information' via a quarterly bulletin that is distributed, I believe, to every MP. The latest issue features a number of items about plain packaging with headlines such as 'Plain packs: not plain, just honest' and 'How the tobacco industry uses packaging to hook new smokers'.
But the headline that really caught our eye was the one that screams, 'FOI request shows industry campaigners rigging plain packs petition'.Indeed it does. A fellow jewel robber in or around the SW1 bubble sent it to me a while back, and it looks a lot like this.
As Simon goes on to explain, a letter answering the concerns raised in that FOI was sent at the end of August and I'm pretty sure that the APPG will have been very much aware of it.
It seems to me to have been quite a gamble for them, then, to boldly give MPs such a categorical - and deliberately misleading - headline as that. I mean, imagine if Simon's response was published before the government announced the results of the consultation, eh? It would make them look pretty corrupt.
However, via Nannying Tyrants, it would appear that if it was a gamble, they had already nobbled the bookie too!
What, exactly, is the DH hiding by not releasing the disclosure log for September 2012? Is there something in September's releases that damages the plain packs supporters?Well, yes. That would be the thus far unpublished letter from Simon Clark which would turn the APPG's headline from a snippet of information into opportunistic mendacity.
So we have the plain packs campaign rigging just about everything they can lay their hands on; using government cash to lobby government; and spreading falsehoods to parliament. Meanwhile, the Department of Health - which still publicly claims to be impartial on plain packaging - is doing its bit by holding back information which could be used against those in favour.
It's all very cosy, isn't it? Though how they can still call it a "public" consultation is anyone's guess.