Saturday, 20 April 2013

Anna Soubry Is Not Fit For A Ministerial Post

Earlier today, Simon Clark highlighted an incompetent Radio 4 performance by Health Minter Anna Soubry, in which - amongst other thoughtless wibbling - she appeared completely unaware of ministerial protocol by advancing her personal support for plain packs before the consultation report has been published.
Either Soubry is a member of the government and accepts the official line that government still has an "open mind" on plain packaging, or she steps down and supports the measure from the backbenches.

However, she is very much aware of what she can and can't say in her role of Under Secretary of State, as she revealed a few days earlier in the House of Commons (emphasis mine).
Anna Soubry: I find it most bizarre that the advice I am given by my officials—and I absolutely accept their advice—is that, as the hon. Gentleman will understand, because of judicial reviews of consultations, I am not allowed to have an opinion, so I do not give any opinion, notwithstanding the fact that many people would say that he advances a number of important arguments.
So, by her own admission she knows it is wrong to advance her personal support for any policy until it has passed through the fig leaf of a not-so-public consultation ... yet did exactly that on the Today programme. But then, she finds it "most bizarre" that she shouldn't be allowed to give her opinion until after the public have officially had their say.

She may as well be saying "I'm too good for parliamentary process, and screw what the public think!". 

As if that isn't bad enough, she has a very loose understanding of the word 'evidence'. Replying to a question on how plain packs could make counterfeiting more simple, she came out with this nonsense.
Far from being a counterfeiter’s dream, the packets produced in Australia would clearly be a nightmare here. A variety of colours, watermarks and holograms, and all manner of other things, can be attached to them, which is why they are described as “standardised” rather than “plain”.
Oh really, dear? Because that's worlds away from what packaging experts say.
I have worked in the packaging industry for more than 40 years and can assure you that the introduction of plain packaging for tobacco products would have unintended consequences. 
The production of packaging is a complex process and involves not only the common 20s carton but a range of other products all produced to exacting standards. The printing techniques for the branding on the packs employ enhanced design features – such as embossing, debossing, hot-foil stamping and UV varnish, among others – and typically use between eight and 10 unique colours from state-of-the-art printing equipment. In contrast, pictorial health warnings which would feature on plain packaging can be produced and reproduced using low-cost printing techniques, from equipment readily available in the market, using just four basic print colours. 
Any move to a plain packaging specification will benefit the counterfeiter and producer of fake products.
It's also the polar opposite to what the police and HMRC have been trying to get through your thick skull.

You see, this is precisely why we have public consultations. It's so that government can be informed about stuff you simply don't get by presenting regional news programmes or, indeed, by solely accepting the word of state-paid single interest lobbyists.

How this contemptuous and woefully inept woman was given a position of any authority in government  is anyone's guess. She is quite simply not fit to assist on a car boot sale stall, let alone a state department.


Curmudgeon said...

Anna Soubry was chair of the Conservative Association at Birmingham University in the late 70s. She always came across as someone whose ambition exceeded her abilities, and I would guess she hoped to be rather further up the greasy pole than a junior health minister by the age of 56. In any case, her majority at Broxtowe is a mere 389, so I expect she'll be toast come the next general election.

P T Barnum said...

As one of her constituents, I wrote and told her about what the police, HMRC and other experts were saying. She replied saying, as a minister, that she wasn't allowed to get involved in the debate. Maybe I should write again... Or not...

And, from memory, if those in Broxtowe who voted for the BNP and some other far-left breakaway group had voted for the incumbent Labour bloke, who at least lived in the constituency, he would have won easily. As it is, she barely shows her face round here. She doesn't like being booed or blanked by the hoi polloi.

Michael McFadden said...

Dick, you may not be aware of this, but Merriam Webster has asked Anna to help them out in their newest revision of the Dictionary of the English Language. In particular, they appreciate her help with the following definitions:

PLAIN: adj. means "adorned with a variety of colours, watermarks and holograms"

"ATTRACTIVE TO CHILDREN" : phr. generally taken to mean no more than two or three colors with text and no pictures. Phone directories, cigarette packs, medicine bottles, Tolstoy's War and Peace, and suchlike.

When she was asked about a definition for the word "is" she deferred to ex-President Bill Clinton of the USA.


moonrakin said...

Now you can see that Armando Iannucci doesn't have to invent his characters...

How reassuring it is to see the brightest and the best working the levers of power.

Longrider said...

How this contemptuous and woefully inept woman was given a position of any authority in government is anyone's guess.

Positive discrimination? Quotas? Affirmative action? All of which will undermine effective competence management, but never mind, we get to have the "right" amount of women in the "right" roles, regardless of whether they happen to be competent or not.

Junican said...

Still time for here to do a lot of damage.
Strange, isn't it, how Milton was replaced with a cloned copy?

Rursus said...

Linda McAvan has found THE EVIDENCE for plain package:

"Asked whether a logo ban would cut EU tobacco sales further than the
Commission's proposal, McAvan said: "By the amount of lobbying we are
hearing, I think the cigarette companies must think it has an effect.""