Thursday 3 April 2014

What We Learned From Ellison And Chantler Today

We learned some interesting facts about the way our country is governed today.

We learned that politicians don't listen to honest argument or debate, and that the best way to sway them is to rig consultations and silence the opposition; we learned that people who encourage corrupt practices and make false claims are respected whereas the public is not; we learned that misrepresenting research is considered acceptable behaviour; we learned that MPs lying in parliamentary briefings and hiding meetings from public record is considered to be scrupulous governance; we learned that government lobbying government is spectacularly more likely to succeed than ordinary people expressing their opinion; and, above all, we learned that if you are a member of the electorate paying taxes to the state, you will be ignored, but if you are paid by the state to bully the public, the establishment will hang on your every word.

How else can you describe this ...

... translating into this?
The government is moving forward with plans to ban branding on cigarette packs, Public Health Minister Jane Ellison told MPs.
The commenters at the BBC article aren't conned by this folly - the highest rated are unanimously of the opinion that it is pointless and won't work - yet a spokesman for ASH claimed this evening that the policy enjoys "strong cross-party support in both houses".

Can you see a bit of a disconnect there? You know, perhaps a reason why voter turnouts are at an all-time low; hatred of politicians at an all-time high?

Unsurprisingly, Labour are fully behind the idea - they do so love depriving working class people of their meagre pleasures - but the plan was announced by a Tory minister, for crying out loud, the main coalition party led by a man who once proudly boasted of how "big bossy state interference is coming to an end" and, once elected, promised "no more of a government treating everyone like children", while Deputy Clegg vowed to "roll back the power of the state" and "restore British liberties".

So what compelling new evidence has convinced these fine, upstanding defenders of freedom to abandon their deeply-held beliefs, then? Well, I really haven't a clue. The Chantler review - as Snowdon points out - offers nothing new except an almost child-like trust of policy-led junk research produced by those who imagined, lobbied for, and whose salaries depend upon, hypnotising daft politicians into legislating for plain packs.

Chantler's methodology throughout is to categorically believe everything the tobacco control industry has ever published on the matter - even if, as he admits, much of it has limitations and some hasn't even been finalised or peer-reviewed - while dismissing every opposing item of evidence as "unconvincing" ... and citing tobacco control industry rebuttals as his reason for saying so!

As for the Tory front bench, they seem content to plough on with this despite their own backbenchers and supporters identifying it as bunkum, and without assessing wider issues as Jane Ellison promised in January.

Now, you could almost understand the public being ignored if the evidence being presented was so overwhelming that it merited public opinion being sidelined, but the Chantler review cannot remotely be described as such. Its summary declares that "research cannot prove conclusively" that plain packaging will work, but that Sir Cyril reckons - after having his ear bent by his tobacco control industry pals for four months - that it may have a "modest" effect. Surely, then, the best course of action would be - as was the wise conclusion last year - to wait and see how the real world experiment in Australia pans out ... especially since the British public are significantly opposed to it.

Or - and I know you're going to laugh at this - allowing us poor saps, who have to pay taxes for this shower of professional politicians, to have the casting vote considering the justification for it is so desperately poor and inconclusive.

Instead, it looks like we'll be ignored once again, as always. Not only that, one of Chantler's findings opens a can of worms which you will be seeing again and again as it is going to delight Alcohol Concern, Action on Sugar, and any number of other state-funded prohibitionists.
"The tobacco industry argues that all of its marketing activity, including packaging, aims solely to persuade existing adult smokers to switch brand and never targets children or new smokers. However, in my opinion, whatever their intent, it is not plausible that the effect of branded packaging is only to encourage brand switching amongst adult smokers, and never to encourage non-smokers from taking up smoking. I have heard no coherent argument as to how this purported separation occurs in practice and in my opinion a ‘spillover effect’ is highly plausible whereby packages that are designed to appeal to a young adult, also, albeit inadvertently, appeal to children. It seems to me that children and non-smokers are not, and cannot be, quarantined from seeing tobacco packaging and in my view once they are exposed to this packaging, they are susceptible to its appeal whether it is intended to target them or not. In the light of these and other considerations set out in my report I believe that branded packaging contributes to increased tobacco consumption."
This may as well have been written with other bansturbators in mind. If plain packaging is introduced as a result of Chantler's review, every repulsive prohibitionist the world over will be quoting it and saying - quite rightly - that the same applies to their particular consumer product.

When marketing aimed at adults is described as being impossible because "in practice" it "inadvertently" appeals to children who will be "susceptible to its appeal whether it is intended to target them or not", no marketing at adults will ever be possible and must therefore be banned.

And that is just one more thing we have learned about politicians today. Not only are they supremely incapable of resisting the lure of state-funded single issue lobbyists and contemptuous of the public who pay their wages, they are also astonishingly brilliant at inviting every miserable tax-sponging 'public health' crank to park their tank on the government's lawn.

Well done, Chantler and Ellison. You utter klutzes!


SteveW said...

I was expecting "This page left deliberately blank at the request of the author. " a la Len Shackleton.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Must have missed that. Link?

DaveAtherton20 said...

I tweeted this today. @Patsynurse @OHwinsAgain Ministers 4 Smoking @GillianMerron #lostelection @AnneMiltonMP and @anna_Soubrymp #sacked et tu @janeellisonmp ?

SteveW said...

Missing 'control' "Chantler's methodology throughout is to categorically believe everything the tobacco industry has ever published on the matter". 50s footballer (Sunderland and England) who's book "The Clown Prince" had that for the chapter on 'What the average football club director knows about football".

trashbunny said...

Great post Dick, was a bit confused though by your paragraph beginning 'Chantlers methodology' is it me or have you got the tobacco industry and the tobacco control industry the wrong way round?

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Ta for the spot. They should have both said TCI. He believed everything the TCI said then, when assessing what the sane were submitting, went back to TCI for help in dismissing it. Whitewash isn't the word.

trashbunny said...

No problem, thought that might be the case!. Words can't really can't describe how this government has bent down prostrate before the tobacco control industry in swallowing the plain packet farce hook line and sinker. More of a brainwash than a whitewash!

Tony said...

Been having a Twitter convo but thought I would say it on here that character limit is a right balls ache.

Anyway as I was saying, the way I see it this madness has only been going on for 10 years max right (at a guess? Or would you say since 2007?) Anyway the way I see it is that as it is getting worse year-on-year (it's almost every day now that some fucking twat wants to ban something) and I am just thinking that everyone has a limit, and hopefully one day people will just stick two fingers up at these twats and peaceful civil disobedience will break out. That's what I'm hoping for anyway, these prohibitionists are never satisfied, they will always want more. Every one they get away with drives them on to the next and if they get away with this one it will be one of the biggest con jobs of all time.

Also this plain packaging one is a really depressing one because they are going against the weight of massive public opinion, that graph is from 665,000 people with 64% of them in opposition, it's pretty bad what they are doing but looking at this one they are really really taking the piss.

I despair at how bad it is getting.

Smoking Hot said...

The only rational explanation is that the majority of HOC are actively involved in the black market of illicit tobacco.

BrianB said...

I've been increasingly despairing for the past 10 years (Blair's vile legacy still lives on) and I feel I'm very close to the end of my tether..

So I'm all for civil disobedience right now - and I'm not too fussed about it being peaceful, either. These people have well earned any violence that may come to them.

If someone wishes to 'denormalise' me - then I'll take great pleasure in 'denormalising' their bollocks!

10 years ago I would never have felt like this. This is what the bastards have reduced me to!

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Agree. Especially since it's the largest public response to any public consultation in British history, and the government ignored it.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

I'd say it started around 10 years ago too, or that's when I started to notice anyway. Chances are the process began maybe 4 or 5 years before that, so undoubtedly a Blair legacy.

Pitkin said...

Or that Chantler is being blackmailed by organised crime to deliver this report to help their 'business'. It's the only way I can make sense of it. Has anyone checked on his relatives recently?

Michael J. McFadden said...

The problem lies in the fact that the politicians don't want it either, BUT they are being ruthlessly blackmailed by the Antismokers: if they vote the wrong way they'll be held up as allying with Big Tobacco to support the wanton murder of thousands of innocent children.

It's a type of lobbying that may be unique in human history. Yes, there have always been pressure groups, and yes, politicians have always been threatened by those groups. But where else in history can you see the threat being as effective as it is today? Even in the late 1930s, UK politicians who liked Hitler could probably have voted for policies in his favor and felt less threatened by a group threatening to call them "pro-Nazi." Heck, watch a few episodes of Foyle's War and get a feel for the number of Brits who liked Hitler even DURING the war! But at least Hitler wasn't seen as "murdering Children" (particularly not murdering British Children) until the Luftwaffe started dropping bombs.

The Antismokers have spent decades honing this particular weapon in their arsenal, and it's a very hard one to fight against -- which is why they love it. The best response I've been able to come up with is to frequently point out the various ways they actually abuse our children, or at least our love for our children, in pursuit of their political goals.


BrianB said...

Maybe a little longer. I seemed to sense that the slope was becoming more slippery with the banning of all tobacco advertising - the first action that I felt to be truly offensive to the intellect - and that was in the late 90's if I recall correctly (Ecclestone et al).

OT, I was in Germany last week, and was quite surprised to see ciggies (real ones, not plastic) advertised on billboards and magazines! Sadly Cologne's bars had the now familiar sight of smokers outside bars in the (very) cold night air - which seems to be a recent development as our hotel was supposed to have a 'cigar bar' in it. The bar was still there, but without ashtrays - and empty all of the time we were there. Just a lone barman and a pianist! I hope that other parts of Germany are still holding out, as I will be going further afield later this year.

On the up-side, Cigarette prices in Germany are now below those of Belgium. €5.70 for 20 B&H in Bruges, €4.80 in Cologne. Had I known, I would have saved another €225 by buying my 'bring-home' stash in Cologne. Bugger!

Oh, and €6.00 for a packet of 26! 26 - I kid you not.

How's that for 'standardised' packaging!

Jay said...

Civil disobedience from smokers or vapers? Never going to happen @Tony , not en masse, not with enough numbers that matter. Far too many smokers & vapers are much too lazy - would rather tweet than get out there; most would rather read a blog post and get angry at home, but do nothing more; most simply do not give a fuck. Not all of them. Just most. It's a numbers game. Civil disobedience won't happen any time soon -- not until you can no longer buy cigarettes, legally or illegally, nor grow your own legally or illegally -- only then it might happen in the same way that people quietly disobey behind closed doors, a la cannabis users. That day is coming. And the vast majority of smokers will accept it, even be grateful for somebody telling them what to do. This is England. This is the UK. This is most of the world. You want things to change? What are you willing to do? Would you put yourself at risk? Would you really?

Frank J said...

"The problem lies in the fact that the politicians don't want it support the wanton murder of thousands of innocent children."

Agree completely. When Cameron in the House of Commons stated that the ban was a 'success', his delivery and body language stated anything but.

I've consistently said that the ONLY problem is SHS. Without it, the whole thing is dead in the water. Whilst it remains unchallenged, we'll continue to hear, progressively, unhinged claims.

truckerlyn said...

Just goes to show these public schoolboys are no bloody good at anything, except brown nosing to their 'wealthier than them' friends!

truckerlyn said...

It's about time we had a government in the UK that actually had a pair of balls between them, stood up for what is right, sacked these pathetic, money grabbing lobbyists and insisted they got real jobs. They should also turn the tables, showing that these anti neurotics are the ones ACTUALLY harming children, due to them now having parents with much less patience due to the undue stress they are under and can no longer smoke to help reduce it!

Then again, as the 3 main political parties in the UK are mostly full of public schoolboys, don't see any of them growing a pair of balls anytime soon!

truckerlyn said...

"The tobacco industry argues that all of its marketing activity, including packaging, aims solely to persuade existing adult smokers to switch brand and never targets children or new smokers......

How the hell do they come up with that load of b***s**t?

If smokers want to change brands they will, with or without plain packaging. Plain packaging just means the smoker will go to the counter and ask for his/her regular brand!

Parliament should hereby by renamed "The Loony Bin"! (No offence meant to anyone suffering, as I do, with mental health problems).