Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Anna Soubry Blamed For 900 Northern Ireland Job Losses

Last night in Westminster, DUP MP Ian Paisley quite rightly ripped into incompetent former health minister Anna Soubry over the loss of 900 jobs in his constituency at an annual cost of £160 million to the UK economy (emphases mine).
The Prime Minister answered a parliamentary question earlier last year on minimum pack size, which is what the tobacco directive is all about. He said: 
“It does not, on the face of it, sound a very sensible approach. I was not aware of the specific issue, so let me have a look at it and get back to my hon. Friend.” - [Hansard, 9 October 2013; Vol. 568, c. 160.] 
The Prime Minister was answering a question from a Government Member, and I believe that he has been let down by a failure of his party and colleagues to negotiate the matter appropriately in Europe
While the then public health Minister, Anna Soubry, had control of tobacco products directive negotiations for the UK Government, she was required to keep Parliament informed of developments via the European Scrutiny Committee. When she was brought to that Committee on 17 July 2013, she had to apologise for poor political practice, saying: 
“I do not hesitate to apologise for the fact that this Committee has not been fully informed. I only wish that, as a Minister, I was aware of all the things that happen within my portfolio.” 
That is an appalling indictment of a Minister who took her eye off a brief and allowed the policy to be rammed through with the consequences that we are feeling today. We will reap a terrible harvest in Northern Ireland as a result. 
The provisions under the TPD on the minimum pack sizes that may be manufactured have the direct impact that 82% of the output of my constituency’s factory will be made illegal. The Government have done that with the sweep of a pen - it is little wonder that 900 people are being told that it is over for them. The Government could have said, “Let’s continue to manufacture, but not sell in the United Kingdom,” or looked at other options, but instead they implemented a policy even though their Minister said that she was not fully aware of what was happening. That is a betrayal. It is a scandal that the Government were not paying proper attention.
Indeed, she was not only disastrously negligent in not considering the consequences of the EU TPD for jobs in Northern Ireland, she was also - as reported here last July - completely ignorant of the terms of the TPD itself, wrongly believing e-cigs had been removed from the process entirely.

At the time, Soubry found herself in a unique position where she could have protected those jobs, but - as Paisley referred to in his speech above - she instead effectively threw 900 Ballymena workers on the dole by deliberately hiding EU proceedings from the European Scrutiny Committee and other government departments.
Incredibly, it emerged there had been no correspondence between Soubry and the Scrutiny Committee for six months between January and June 2013. Oddly enough, this is the very period when the Committee would have been expected to scrutinise the draft TPD which was published in December 2012. 
Officials (and Soubry) decided there was no time for proper scrutiny of a Directive that will affect millions of consumers in Britain, not to mention thousands of small businesses. 
So they asked for a waiver from the scrutiny committees in both Houses of Parliament (Lords and Commons). The Lords agreed but the Commons Scrutiny Committee said no. 
Concerned that any delay might delay the revised TPD (which includes plans to ban menthol cigarettes and restrict pack sizes) or tie the UK government's hands on plain packaging, Soubry and Black travelled to Luxembourg determined, it seems, to support the draft TPD regardless of any concerns elected members of parliament may have had. 
If I am reading this correctly, they failed even to seek clearance from other government departments.
It turns out that Soubry held something of a casting vote in proceedings, but rather than defend the UK's interests, she instead chose to cast it in favour of her own prejudices.
Soubry said she took full responsibility for the decision she took, and she was sorry that things were not done in the way that they should have been. 
“If we had not made a decision there was a danger that the moment would be gone for a very long time."
Just as 900 people in Northern Ireland will be ruing Soubry's incompetence for 'a very long time' - she may as well have signed their P45s herself. In case she pops by, here's what the hard-working people she unilaterally betrayed look and sound like.

EU-enthralled Conservative Soubry has since been shifted to organising the UK's defence. I'm sure that will make you feel safer in your bed tonight, eh?


A said...

You can add Andrew Black to the crime sheet. He is the generally faceless tobacco control civil servant who (er hmm) "supported" Soubry at the hysterical/appalling Scrutiny committee hearing and was clearly fingered as the real person who obfuscated/"mislead" the hapless Soubry (and now Ellison) and therefore the whole of parliament throughout the EUTPD (and plain packaging) debacles.

How do these civil servants keep their jobs when the evidence of their incompetence - or worse - is there for all to see?

Curmudgeon said...

At least it's odds-on that she'll be toast at the next General Election. Someone I came across at University in the 70s as well.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

How can we forget? He was sat next to her during the scrutiny committee 'disciplinary' (which is what it effectively was), she may as well have been a glove puppet.


DaveAtherton20 said...

I button holed one of the European Scrutiny Committee at the Tory party conference and they confirmed her lame performance was a major factor for her leaving the Department of Health.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Ballymena workers won't be too happy with her either, it's quite a stance to take from Paisley to personally name her as being responsible for 900 redundancies.

What the.... said...


Dick_Puddlecote said...

Ha! Perhaps she'll claim the old "only following orders" defence.

"We don't want to work in partnership with the tobacco companies because we are trying to arrive at a point where they have no business in this country"

Legiron said...

She is in charge of defence now? Get the white flags ready. Or perhaps the black ones.

PatNurse said...

Don't forget Nottingham where workers were deliberately forced into unemployment because of Metropolitan Elitists Soubry and Lansley's desire to force the tobacco industry out of Britain. Remember his statement when the tories won in 2010? Really proud of the fact, he was, that so many scumbag workers would be out of jobs because he hates smoking #WeSmokeWeVote Looks like the Tories don't want our support so they'll be out of work come GE 2015

Dave said...

In any other job Soubry's actions would ammount to gross misconduct.

Dick_Puddlecote said...


Ian B said...

The problem is one of allegiance. Humans run on it; the question of who we feel loyalty towards. Most politicians do not feel allegiance to their constituents, or only partially, and the higher up they go the worse it gets. Their allegiance is to their party, to their peer group, to the mood of the Establishment they spend their lives imbedded in and, these days, towards their international and transnational colleagues, the new "supranational peer group" in which they operate. This is why they're mostly EUphiles etc; it's not really because they want to sell Britain down the river or something. It isn't a conspiracy. It's just that that is where their friends are.

Humans are enormously susecptible to this; it is how we evolved to be. For most of human history and prehistory, we lived in small bands where the peer group and the community are effectively the same thing. With the rise of larger societies, that started to diverge. We need a real rethink on the whole of the "sociology of politics". For the modern transnationalist politician, going against that transnational peer group would feel emotionally disloyal, like a hunter gatherer betraying his tribe; the same emotion. The peer group they have to answer to is the one they interact with every day, not citizens of a different social class that they do not even know other than from a distance as statistics. This is how they all get sucked into this kind of behaviour.

The Ferryman said...

Come on,lets be fair with Westminster Elite,their resources are overwhelmed in their pursuit of Tobacco Regulation,they cant spare staff to sort out the
Immigrant calamity,the child prostitution disaster,to frightened to upset the
anti tobacco lobbies and Pharma mafia
Guess where the emphasis on Border Guarding is,terrorists,jihadists,narcotics,porn,slavedrivers,illegal immigrants,murderers,rapists,,,,,,forget them
They are on red alert for Benson&Hedges and Golden Virginia, in the big cities scratching around for dodgy baccy,closing their eyes to the parlours
where 11 year old girls are raped and tortured.
Who do we blame for this disproportionate use of authority
The lobby spivs in their cosy London Mews,the capucine and Drambuie
posers waist deep in cesspit of easy reward,the bleeding heart Vultures,
the cringing liberals and lingering bloodsuckers.Last but not least the festering pit of the Commons wherin a moral plague is dailly applauded

truckerlyn said...

I heard her on Radio 2 today on the Jeremy Vine show (with Vanessa Feltz standing in). It was about the veterans who are supposed to receive fast track and top notch treatment. She blustered her way through that interview too! With regards to PTSD, she came up with every excuse under the sun as to why it took so long to help these sufferers.

The whole interview just beggared belief - a 10 year old could have done a better job!