Thursday, 28 February 2013

It's Official: Ministers Are Crazy

One of the best political blogs of all time - and most definitely the sanest Labour one - used to be written by Tom Harris MP. Entitled "And another thing" his blog - and, by extension, his writing mind - possessed all of the qualities politicians mostly lack ... common sense; logic; sense of humour; and an understanding of how those outside of politics live and think.

Sadly, he deleted the blog a while ago, presumably because his superiors told him he was buggering things up for the rest of the wooden-topped clowns in SW1.

However, a few paras of his political optimism still survives from 2008.

Being fed up with commenters stating that the smoking ban was the thin end of a very nasty wedge, his response is historic testament to how low dictatorial and brain-washed politicians have since sunk.
But the Department of Health recently held a consultation on whether the smoking ban should be extended into people’s private vehicles and homes. Now, I know this caused a great deal of perfectly understandable outrage among a lot of people. So let me make this clear: the government will not, under any circumstances, legislate to stop people smoking in private. It would be a crazy move and, believe it or not, ministers are not crazy people - they’re politicians and they recognise political realities. 
And if they did attempt to legislate in this direction, I would risk the wrath of those who don’t believe Scottish MPs should vote on English matters by voting against it. 
But as I say, I won’t need to, because it’s not going to happen.
Fast forward to 2013 and ...
Smoking should be banned in cars carrying children, says England's public health minister
At the Local Government Association's annual public health conference, Ms Soubry said: "I think it is something we should at least consider as government."
Meanwhile, at PMQs yesterday, no less ...
At Prime Minister's Questions Mr Cameron was urged by Labour's Ian Mearns to go 'a significant step further and introduce a ban on smoking when children are present in vehicles'. 
Mr Cameron replied: 'We should look carefully at what the you and others have said. 
'We are looking across the piece at all the issues, including whether we should follow the Australians with the ban on packaging and what more we can to do to restrict smoking in public places. 
'There has been a real health advance from some of the measures that have been taken. 
'We must consider each one and work out whether there is a real public health benefit, but you make a good point.'
So there you have it. The Prime Minister, and another minister, talking about plans by government to legislate against people smoking in private.

Yup, ticks all the boxes. Therefore, Harris's Law proves that ministers are - indeed - crazy people.



Heresiarch said...

This pass was sold a long time ago, though. If the government can force people to wear seatbelts in their own private cars (which almost everyone, though not me, now thinks goes without saying, then they can ban smoking. Smoking in a confined space is probably a lot more dangerous, statistically speaking, than not wearing a seatbelt.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Agree entirely that the seat belt law was a gateway for prohibitionists, though I'm always pulled up by those who say the bike helmet law in the 70s was more significant.

I don't agree that smoking in a car is dangerous in the slightest, though. Just like the junk science employed to con MPs into passing seat belt laws, studies to 'prove' secondhand smoke harm quite simply haven't done so, especially not in a car.

Fidel Cuntstruck said...

I guess we all know that legislation against smoking in your car is merely the step before legislation against smoking in your home. I don't smoke in the car, nor in the house - the conservatory is the smoking area as it has a door between it and the kitchen. I look forward to the day some government apparatchik marches up my drive brandishing the "rulebook" and demanding that I immediately cease smoking in my garden or my conservatory - they'll look rather silly marching back down the drive with their rulebook sticking out of their fundamental orifice.

Stephen Brown said...

I smoke in my car, I enjoy smoking and I find that motorway driving is easier if I am relaxed but attentive, hence the odd ciggie in the car. I don't like sitting in a smoky atmosphere so I open the driver's window a bit (the ash goes out there) and the rear passenger's side window. All of the smoke, both from the cigarette and from my exhalations goes straight out of my window. My wife, a non-smoker, says that she can't even smell my cigarette when we are driving along with the car windows in this configuration.
I defy anyone to detect 'dangerous levels of toxins' in my car at any time.
Cameron is treading on dangerous ground when he says that he favours trespassing into private places. My car is mine, my home is mine and I shall continue to do just what I what within the confines of MY private places.

Ivan D said...

"'There has been a real health advance from some of the measures that have been taken"

I would love to know what exactly Dave claims to be a "real health advance" based on any recent measures taken and why.

One does have to wonder reading his spineless response whether every half baked left wing idea going to be considered solely on the grounds of alleged public health benefit irrespective of other potential impacts on our society?

Crazy I am not sure about but he is certainly intellectually challenged and rather gutless. I would like to believe that he chose to respond the way he did because PMQs is not the time or the place, but I don't.

nisakiman said...

Interestingly, one of the pioneers of the seatbelt law was that supernanny state Australia. When I arrived there in 1971 it was mandatory to wear seatbelts, and had apparently been introduced in Victoria (I was living in Melbourne) the year before. A taste of things to come.

As far as I remember, UK didn't get the legislation until the 80s. The legislation in Aus didn't extend to trucks however, and I don't think I knew any interstate drivers who would even consider wearing one, the rationale being that if you found yourself on course for a head-on, you stood more chance of survival (slight though it was) by bailing out; a bit tricky if you were belted in.

And there is of course that well documented 'Volvo effect', which states that when people are protected by safety features it inclines those people to be rather less risk-averse than they would otherwise be.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

You're correct about Australia and seat belts. Curiously, though, their stats for road deaths in states with and without seat belt laws showed that those without enjoyed fewer casualties than those with once pedestrian and cycling road users were taken into account. Your 'Volvo effect' precisely.

Our law was passed in 1983, and it's undeniable that there has been no reduction in casualties that can be solely attributed to it. Almost all of the 'saved lives' occurred in the early hours of the morning - 1983 was also the year that evidential breath testing came into effect. Guess what road campaigners claimed. ;)

c777 said...

Like they banned mobile phone use.
You could have fooled me.
Smoking in cars?
Not enforcible, even the police themselves admit that.
It's the principle of the thing.
Its prohibitionists keeping the ball rolling so they can screw more money out of taxpayers.
It is that simple.

PJHH said...

"...Ian Mearns..."

Doesn't surprise me - he's not prepared to listen to, or answer questions about, the dodgy rhetoric he's repeating from the anti-tobacco camp.

Page 1, Page 2 of his reply to me when I wrote to him as my MP objecting to the nanny-state attitude regarding plain packaging.

spud said...

I contacted Ian about his statement in parliament and got this reply from his secretary:

Dear spud

Further to your recent correspondence Ian has asked me to reply on his behalf.

Many hundreds of constituents have contacted Ian about the damaging impact of smoking on the population of Gateshead, and particularly the effect of 2nd hand smoke on young children, whether they have wrote to us with regard to smoking in vehicles or introducing plain packaging of tobacco products.

If there is anything else Ian can assist you with relation to this or any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact Ian again.

Yours Blah Blah Blah.

Now my question would be, how would I go about raising a freedom of information request to get these figures out?

PJHH said...

Simply email/write back to him asking for the information and make clear that it is a FoI request. See the "What do they know" site for time limits etc.