Thursday 15 May 2014

The Future Will Look Back And Shake Its Head At Mark Drakeford

I sometimes wonder if the dramatic decline in respect for politicians might be linked to the fact that since 1989 we have been able to watch them at work on the TV, and now, online. Because when they are presented to us like zoo animals in their own environment, it is quite clear that very many of them are stratospherically out of touch with the society they are supposed to serve.

There are exceptions of course, but - by way of example - how about this cute little mini-government chamber in Wales and their debate about the recent suggestion that e-cigs should be banned in public.

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Firstly, it goes without saying that not one speaker could allow themselves to even imagine that people should be free to choose to smoke or vape and that it is their business and not the government's, but that's par for the course with politicians. They didn't go into politics to permit you to make your own choices, merely to restrict them.

However, there was a brief glimpse of real liberalism from Lib Dem AM Kirsty Williams who opened with a fantastic Isaiagh Berlin quote.
"Those who have ever valued liberty for its own sake believed that to be free to choose, and not to be chosen for, is an inalienable ingredient in what makes human beings human"
Although this was to be a plank of her defence of e-cig use, the freedom love-in quickly dissipated as she described how she was fully in favour of denying publicans the freedom to choose what they allow in their private property, and expressed strong support for plain packaging and your decision to use tobacco or not being chosen for you.

The incredibly flimsy or non-existent 'evidence' behind those measures was fine and dandy for Kirsty, even as she castigated the Labour minister for the incredibly flimsy or non-existent 'evidence' for his absurd proposed e-cig ban.
"No justification for such a ban; no evidence to support such a ban; and indeed such a ban could lead to potential improvements in public health being lost"
But hey-ho.

The most unhealthy looking Labour politician I've seen for a while (Diane Abbott excepted) then stood up to tell everyone that all of those assembled were committed to helping the Welsh to be as healthy as possible, and that she doesn't know anything about e-cigs but wants them banned anyway. "We just don't know" she kept repeating, despite the fact that most of us really do know, considering everything in an e-cig has already been tested and declared safe about 50 years ago, and is in common use by around 100% of the population.

The Plaid Cymru member surprisingly also rejected a ban, albeit saying that she'd be gagging to ban them if only someone could come up with some decent junk science, before Tory Byron Davies rose to reject the proposal since restricting a product which is helping smokers to quit or cut down on tobacco would "bring the health bill into disrepute".

So far, so predictable. Labour desperate to ban, ask questions later; Tories pointing to job losses, and that a ban is unwarranted; Lib Dems picking and choosing which liberties their liberalism extends to.

But then up stepped Labour's Mark Drakeford (from 22:08 above), currently the most dangerous man the Welsh people have to face, and founder of this pointless and ill-conceived feast.

Obviously stung by the derisory reception his ridiculous idea has received, and now being asked to produce evidence for it - which was the rationale for the debate - he was in bullish mood. He'd scoured the globe for something - anything - to back him up and judging from his aggressive delivery I think he believes he found it in the form of a succession of desperate logical fallacies.

I counted seven of these, any advance?
It was clearly a gateway product for dotty Drakeford, despite all evidence proving that it is not. He then stated that "actions speak louder than words" and said that his government was only following the "mounting evidence" that e-cigs undermine smoking bans. 'Evidence' from such heavyweight health experts as Wetherspoons, Arriva trains and the Welsh Rugby Union who have banned their use because vaping apparently makes it more difficult to police their smoking policy.

Now, just think about that for a moment. Here is a politician justifying a Welsh ban on e-cigs because private companies are deciding to do so. How about that for leadership, eh? What's more, he is following their lead because they are taking the lazy and easy option for fear of eye-watering fines dreamed up and installed by - you guessed it - appalling authoritarian tossers like Mark Drakeford. This is the very definition of a circle-jerk, isn't it?

Next came the call to authority ... but only carefully selected ones, of course. All the usual suspects were in there, CRUK, BMA, WHO, PHE and - I shit you not - "all four Chief Pharmaceutical Officers" ... you know, the ones who really like competing gums and patches. There was, of course, no mention of any dissenting bodies such as the RCP or even ASH, probably because their 'expert advice' didn't fit his agenda.

He made his case further for this "modest" demand with an accusation that Lib Dem Williams "in a cavalier manner, dismissed nicotine of being no danger to anybody", presumably in complete ignorance that NICE and the RCP say exactly the same, and that the belief of it being a danger is a widely held one amongst the ill-informed.

Then came his assertion that e-cigs are no better than NRT for helping smokers to quit. In a field of funny excuses from it-looks-like-smoking-so-I-hate-it types, this is by far the most hilarious. You see, at any other time you can ask them about NRT and it is the jewel in the crown of the NHS, but when talking about e-cigs, it is apparently useless so therefore so must e-cigs be. Of course, even this is nonsense anyway, since Drakeford is - predictably - using out-of-date propaganda to push his cause. The truth is that no-one has yet studied the e-cigs that most people use, so his big revelation just illustrates how poor his researchers are.

Next up was the flavours canard proving that he believes the Earth is flat and Welsh adults only to be turned on by essence of dead goat and the taste of dog shit, before he falsely claimed that e-cigs were already banned indoors in the Czech Republic where there is not even a tobacco smoking ban, and that Australia have banned e-cigs entirely when they haven't ... yet.

I've left the best till last, though, but only because Drakeford thinks this is his most persuasive argument without realising that it's the only part he nailed perfectly, and is also his political epitaph.
"Do we want our successors to look back at the debates we are holding today and shake their heads at our inability to see where the evidence was leading"
He's absolutely correct. Because politicians of the future - and not that far in the future either - who will see the good place that the evidence led to, will look back on this utter madness and wonder what the hell Drakeford was smoking to let his political career be defined by such piss poor judgement.

It's a quote that vapers worldwide should keep somewhere safe and prominent. You just know it's going to haunt poor deluded (perhaps also manipulated) Mark to his dying day.

PS Drakeford's guff was obliterated by Conservative Darren Millar, vapers might want to follow him on Twitter.


What the.... said...

Mark Drakeford…… the “healthist” buffoon in question.

SteveW said...

Devastatingly good work Dick, utterly spot on (not that I'm remotely biassed...).

Ivan_Denisovich said...

I am increasingly convinced that we really do need a revolution. How the hell can we have descended to a level at which Drakeford has any say in anything whatsoever?

Junican said...

So Drakeford is A MINISTER in the Welsh Assembly?

It is astonishing that these elected members can be so facilely emotional. What are they afraid of? Why was the proposer of the motion so terrified of even hinting that she might be suspected of harbouring people who enjoy tobacco?
I have read about Jewish academics in Nazi Germany who were hounded out of the universities. Only a few of their colleagues tried to defend them. Perhaps they too prefaced their remarks with "Much as I hate Jews, ...."
There is no doubt, in my mind, that we have entered into a new fascist, totalitarian era - fascist because the 'state' demands obedience, and totalitarian because 'one size fits all'.
There is little doubt that the candidates for election to positions in the Welsh Assembly are not fit persons to hold such positions, on account of their emotional imbalance, which suggests that the voters are stupid to elect them. But the question occurs to me, "Who chooses the candidates?"
Is it any wonder that all the speakers in that debate regard some 20% of the electorate as 'dispensable' if the speakers are chosen because they are of that mind?
It is astonishing how cruel these people are.

Simon Thurlow said...

It was an interesting debate to say the least. All credit should go to Kirsty Williams for bringing the debate in the first place.

It was satisfying to see Drakeford sweating so profusely and watching his lower lip quivering uncontrollably as he came under attack from the opposition in the Senedd.

The biggest surprise for me was seeing Plaid Cymru joining in the attack on Drakeford, although Elin Jones did seem very unsure of herself and was obviously in unfamiliar territory.

However, the best was kept for last and I am surprised you didn't mention him. After Drakeford had finished standing up like a scolded schoolboy, desperately trying to justify his stance with complete and utter bollocks, we saw Darren Millar - another Conservative AM - stand up and deliver what I believe was the dagger into all of Drakeford's protestations.

Darren has obviously done his homework on this subject and proceeded to refer to all the LATEST studies that have arisen from the likes of ASH, and indeed some of the research done elsewhere by the likes of Dr Farsolinos and Dr Michael Siegel - even if he didn't refer to them by name. I thought Darren's closing speech of almost 10 minutes was excellent and kudos to him for saying it - even with the Labour AMs trying to heckle him throughout.

It is worth noting that Labour have an extremely tenuous hold on the Senedd. Labout only hold 50% of the Senedd. That means they rely on other parties (usually Plaid) to prop them up and get legislation through. What this debate has shown is that the opposition parties are all against Labour on this point currently.

I know of at least 3 Labour AMs who have confided personally that they are also against the ecig ban in Wales. Whether they will go against the Labour party line and vote against such a ban remains to be seen. But do remember that quite a few Labour AMs maintained wafer thin holds on their seats at the last election (Wales uses the proportional representation voting system). So many of those Labour AMs will be extremely nervous of upsetting the electorate in their wards.

The Lib-Dems Peter Black has also been very vocal in his opposition to any ecig ban in recent weeks. I have seen a lot of Tweets from him to this effect.

The tide is turning on this. England appears to be going against a ban from the latest news I hear. This could well sway some of the 'waverers' in the Senedd.

What is obvious is that Drakeford is now beginning to realise how tenuous a grip he has on this situation. It remains to be seen how pig-headed and stubborn he is prepared to be in defence of his 'ideological' crusade. He has NO so-called evidence that cannot be refuted. He even quoted CRUK in his defence and yet CRUK have clearly stated on their web-pages that they see ecigs as a massive potential health benefit.

Only another month before the White Paper Consultation period comes to a conclusion and we can see what they do with the results. In that time, the European Elections will have taken place. One can only hope that Labour gets a bloody nose in the Euros as maybe then they will start to realise how much the public has seen through their Nanny-State facade !!

Corgi Breeder said...

I do not take the Druid talking Shop seriously as it is ,as we all know just a
feel good device for groaning Calvinists and limp wristed fellow travellers.
This silly Senedd has perfected the art of "welshing" even on the welsh themselves, giving Taff and Co the opportunity to stab each other in the back
rather than their English neighbours.
Will the welsh spirit of liberty blaze down the vallleys in protest.
No chance ,they'll be to busy sprawled out on 2 nd hand sofas glued to Gavin & Stacy or sat in neat rows groaning chants about shut pits.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Yes, Millar was excellent! I hope most people would have watched his rebuttal at the end of the embedded video. However, my main point was how Drakeford is trying his best to wreck e-cigs despite all the promise they offer. For him to then say that future politicians will look back and shake their heads at not banning them is laughable!

I think that quote will be totemic. When the time comes that there is almost universal agreement about the benefits o e-cigs, that Drakford quote will go down as one of the most idiotic in political history - rather like the ones by music execs when saying that bands like the Beatles had no future.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Reminds me of David Byrne from Talking Heads. ;)

Zillatron said...

He also claims that in germany e-cigs would be trated as medicines.
Total BS.
Some (govern)mental ANTZ tried to, but got smacked down in court. Repeatedly.

Jon Holland said...

No wonder the Welsh NHS is in a mess with people like Drakeford running the show, this is a good read....
Seriously wondering if I should move back to England, the border is less than 10 miles away.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Ta, Z. I'm sure anyone could have gone into each claim and found it wanting in some way, I just knew the two about Czech Republic and Australia to be wrong off the top of my head.