It is being conducted - in double quick time, we are told - by Sir Cyril Chantler, a paediatrician who is bound to believe all the rigged evidence or else he'll be ostracised by the rest of the public health Mafia. There is also the small matter of "enabling legislation" so that if a green light is given, plain packs can be on your shelves before you can say '20 Benson and Hedges please'.
However, others seem to think it's just a bit of politicking, see here from Simon Clark and here at ConHome. I was also taken to task by a lifelong Tory friend on Facebook, and a fellow jewel robber in Westminster commented via e-mail that "interesting politics are going on here ... pressing ahead just before or after next May's elections would be pretty unwise".
They may have a point, who knows? I suppose it would explain why Andy Burnham has been less than happy today despite Labour's wildest dreams of sticking it to the working classes apparently coming true.
And, it surely can't have escaped the coalition's attention that the public really can't be bothered to get excited about plain packs, as the public consultation showed.
Or maybe it did. Because Health Minister Jane Ellison - following on from Anna Soubry as the DoH's latest Nicola Murray - claimed on Radio 5 this morning (from 2:16:00 here*) that:
"When we did the consultation in the summer, actually, it was more in favour of going ahead"Utter nonsense, of course, which was contemptuously corrected by the IEA's Mark Littlewood immediately after she'd finished waffling. But it is interesting that, despite the largest response to a public consultation in the history of the UK government, the results should be so badly represented.
What she was restricting her commentary to were the 'detailed responses', rather than mentioning all who had expressed an interest. By that, she meant almost exclusively state-funded departments; fake charities; single interest pressure groups; and other professional 'stakeholders', rather than, you know, the public. The fact that the figures showed a tiny difference between those paid to spend their time writing, as against those of us who sent detailed responses on our own time should send a message to Ellison. If she received it, though, she isn't letting on.
Perhaps someone should point out that there is a 'public' bit in the term public consultation.
Anyway, sod all that, this tabloid guffer can't be doing with trying to analyse why politicians seem so resistant to listening to the public right now.
But perhaps there's a clue in the reaction of Nick Clegg. This was the most telling quote of the day for me (do go watch the video clip).
"We have an open mind as a government on this, and if the evidence from the review emerges in favour of plain packaging, which I hope it will, it's a measure we would then proceed with".He's like a kid at Christmas, isn't he?
Not "I hope it shows that we don't need to interfere", not "I hope, as a liberal, that more rules will be unnecessary".
Nope, Nick can't wait to get started. He is crossing his fingers and praying that he will be able to take business away from the packaging industry; desperate to see gratuitous gore become a part of everyday life; and almost coming in his pants at the prospect of causing inconvenience to retailers.
If the review were to find that there is no need for legislation, I guess he would be right pissed off. And even if the review found that plain packs harmed kids rather than deterring them, he'd presumably be frustrated and depressed. Because he was so looking forward to banning something, so he was.
This is the same Clegg, remember, who wanted to ""roll back the power of the state" and "restore British liberties" with the Freedom Bill that went nowhere.
What a pathetic mess politicians manage to contrive every day, eh?
* And if anyone cares to record that lie and stick it on Soundcloud or something for posterity, I'd be grateful.