I've been reading with astonishment the obfuscation, dubious process and utter disregard for truth which has accompanied Forest's complaint to the ASA about the government's mendacious "mutations" anti-smoking adverts. The full story is at Simon Clark's blog (here and here) and Liberal Vision so do go have a read of the background. Be prepared to pick your jaw up off the floor, mind.
As Brian Monteith astutely notes, "Why do governments lie? Because they can!". And they wonder why we all despise politicians and the civil service which does their dirty work, eh?
We're well beyond the looking glass here and into fantasy democracy and pretend accountability. Debate about whether it is even the government's business to produce scaremongery to bully the public into quitting smoking has been sidelined while we all battle to challenge the state's right to lie, for Chrissakes! Unsuccessfully in this case, it would appear. You see, the ASA Council has sent a brazen message that lying with the taxpayer's cash is, indeed, perfectly acceptable in the 21st century.
As an illustration of how state institutions hold the public in utter contempt, there couldn't be a more stark example. Consider this from the timeline produced by Forest:
3 February 2014 – Letter from ASA to Forest
To update you on the progress of our investigation, we met with the Department of Health on 24 January. The minutes from that meeting will not be made available ...Err, why not? And why was the Department of Health afforded a meeting in camera when I'm pretty sure anyone not paid by the state would have been kept at arms length for the purposes of impartiality? It couldn't be that they wanted to get their public sector stories straight, could it?
And it all took over 18 months, by which time how many people will have seen this junk science - based on a cherry-picked uncontrolled study of one, yes one, person - and believed it?
Consider too, the members of the ASA Council unearthed by Angela Harbutt:
Ray Gallagher: Government adviser.Each and every one seemingly happy to over-rule the ASA executive's three categorical condemnations of the Department of Health's mendacious advertising - based on expert advice - and therefore happy for the public to be blatantly misled in order to protect their personal interests.
Martin Narey: Government adviser.
John Mayhead: Government adviser.
Hamish Pringle: Advertising rep with government clients.
Anthony Earle Wilkes: Training provider for government advisers!
Likewise Lord Smith, the Chairman of the ASA, who is fresh from being a total cock-up at the Environment Agency and so perhaps thinks it politically advantageous for his future career not to queer his pitch with the Department of Health Mafiosi.
Jobs for the boys, I think it's called.
In an ideal world they would all be fired immediately for abuse of their positions and charged with crony self-interest. But then, why would the establishment charge some of their own, eh?
Another day; another state abuse of our trust; and another reason why politicians and the system they operate in are overwhelmingly despised. May God rot them, every one.