"What is the face of a coward? The back of his head as he runs from a battle" - Frank UnderwoodOnline convenience store trade site Better Retailing today published some observations from the Westminster Committee Room where MPs hid themselves away to avoid a debate in the House of Commons over plain packaging. It conveys the exasperation of independent retailers who have been comprehensively butt-fucked by politicians since the last election in 2010.
After strongly opposing the tobacco display ban in opposition, both Conservative and Lib Dem coalition partners about-turned within months and passed it anyway, costing every small shop in the country thousands they can ill afford. Now they are screwing the trade again but are too ashamed to do so in parliament in case Conservative divisions might be widely noticed in the run up to an election.
It has to be noted that plain packaging is only being passed due to Conservative cowardice in the face of Labour flinging insults about Lynton Crosby, so their further cowardice in not affording a debate in the commons is to be expected I suppose.
But the Better Retailing article succinctly details the rank cowering gutlessness of enthusiastic promoters of the policy too.
4. The sanctimonious hypocrisy of some anti-smoking MPs is breathtaking.
One Labour MP, Kevin Barron, dismissed the small business arguments against plain packaging because of funding for a campaign that the NFRN had received from British American Tobacco.
“I exposed in 2011 exactly what the tobacco company was up to. I have no doubt that many of the missives that we have had screaming about what was going to happen to small retail were close to tobacco, even if they were not funded by it, as that campaign was,” Mr Barron said.This is the Kevin Barron who is so confident that the public is behind his personal hatred of tobacco products that he fully endorses the WHO's cowardly Article 5.3, the sole purpose of which is to silence debate about policies proposed by anti-smoking lunatics. Cowardly because if they had their ducks lined up and the evidence is solid, they should be able to take on all-comers, no?
Better Retailing continues ...
Quite what is wrong for a company like BAT supporting retailers with less time and resources to protect a key category in their store was not explained in the committee. Ghoulish references to so-called “Big Tobacco” seem enough of an argument in themselves.Well, I don't wish to criticise the author for coming to the party late, but what's wrong with any large business supporting small businesses is that the tobacco control industry is scared of a proper fight. So they have sought for decades to avoid one by silencing opposition (hence article 5.3). They don't want anyone with less time and resources having their say at all, so have engineered a position where "ghoulish references to 'Big Tobacco'" is, indeed, all that is required. Why be brave and challenge your critics head on when you can just spinelessly cheat, and nobble the other side?
Indeed, support that independents receive from manufacturers is about the only counteracting force against the might of supermarkets which, as Nick de Bois explained, will be at an advantage due to their deeper pockets and less tobacco-dependent business models.The tobacco control industry couldn't care less. They don't receive income from retailers, so sod 'em.
Plus, as MP Philip Davies asked, isn't ASH government funded? Is it right that one side gets major financial backing to put forward its views while the other is castigated for it?Welcome to the disingenuous and cowardly world that self-interested tobacco controllers have created for themselves. State-funded Goliath against the small shop Davids who are deprived of any support.
While Jane Ellison MP later argued no government funding ASH received was for the purpose of lobbying, Mr Barron said that it would be okay if that was happening, anyway.
Mr Barron MP, like many of his opinion, seem worried about one form of corporate advantage or influence, but naive or blinkered when it comes to all others.That'll be because the anti-smoking industry is two-faced, shifty, and corrupt. As are its cowardly pet politicians. The sole purpose of ASH is to lobby - it is the only thing they do and what they were set up for in 1972 - so any cash they are handed can only be used in one respect. But Ellison is too spineless even to admit that simple fact.
The plain packaging campaign has been quite brilliant for putting tobacco control and its simpering scaredy cats in the spotlight. We've seen gross examples of every kind of sharp and corrupt political practice known to man, so it's apt that it should all be rounded off with an object lesson in chicken shit.
Conservative cowardice for bowing to a tiny few state-funded blowhards; tobacco control cowardice in not allowing robust opposition; cowardice in Ellison timidly letting Labour drive the agenda; cowardice in Ellison also not admitting ASH is using taxes to lobby; cowardice of Labour politicians in dismissing genuine small business concerns with lies; cowardice in favouring quango propaganda over public responses to consultations; and finally cowardice in confining MP opposition to a committee room to cowardly try to hide party objections from the electorate.
I hope every UK retailer watches the vote tomorrow and notes the choice of their local incumbent. May a hundred thousand counter-top campaigns roll against craven MPs who allow valid concerns from local businesses they are shafting to be portrayed as "screaming" by Big Tobacco.
Let the retail lions see the political sheep.