Paul Burstow is a particularly oleaginous, one-track minded anti-smoker who is Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Smoking and Health. This group is secretaried by ASH and acts as the political arm of their lobbying operation.
With this in mind, here is what Burstow presented to Westminster yesterday on the subject of George Osborne's proposed annual levy on tobacco companies (which he stole from Labour).
The potential benefits to public health can be fully realised only if the levy is used to fund tobacco control action, which is designed to increase the rate of quitting tobacco use over and above what might otherwise be expected as a result of price rises.
If the programme of research proposed in this Bill were carried out, it would show that the recurring cost of tobacco control activity at every level - local, regional and national - could be met from the proceeds of the levy.Or, to put it another way, the government should steal money from legal businesses and hand it to Burstow's pals at ASH and other already state-funded fake charities and lobbying quangos. You know, just in case anyone were to make a case that we shouldn't be paying for their huge salaries when the country is struggling with a deficit.
Now, we know all about government lobbying government - whereby tax receipts are transferred to the likes of ASH etc who then use it to influence MPs - but have you ever heard of an MP using his position to lobby government himself for state receipts to be handed over wholesale to single issue trouser stuffers?
Of course, lobbying by organisations which receive public money is not permitted, so it's staggering that Burstow should be using his influence - also paid for by us - to beg for more cash on ASH's behalf. Because that's exactly what is going on here, as our esteemed mascot pointed out in reply.
I see that the right hon. Gentleman is putting himself up as the spokesman for ASH, as it is its campaign that he is advocatingYes. ASH are
However, our Phil was in great form, and came out with one of his most contemptuous responses to ideological anti-smoking nonsense yet. Read and enjoy.
I particularly wanted to oppose the Bill because the right hon. Gentleman has done us all a great service. He has let the cat out of the bag. Of course, the Government have already accepted ASH’s campaigning on banning smoking in cars where there are children, which is completely unenforceable. They have also accepted the plain packaging of tobacco, which is completely idiotic. Of course, the Government accepted those policies because ASH told them that if they did so the amount of smoking in the country would plummet. We were told that if we introduced plain packaging it would be absolutely fantastic because all of a sudden cigarettes would not appeal to young people and children and that would close the gateway into tobacco use. The whole policy was based on that premise.
That policy has not even been implemented and already the right hon. Gentleman is saying, “Actually, that was all a load of tripe. It won’t make any difference whatsoever. What we need now is a levy on the tobacco industry so that we can do some research to find out why young people smoke and then try to stop them smoking.” Well, what on earth was the plain packaging campaign about, if not that? I am grateful to him for letting the cat out of the bag by telling us that the whole premise behind plain packaging was a complete load of old codswallop. Unfortunately, the Government idiotically accepted that codswallop in a mindless fashion without even thinking it through, because they, too, are in the pocket of ASH and, rather than making up their own policies based on evidence, just want gleefully to accept anything ASH tells them.
The point is that this is just the latest campaign from ASH. Every time it advocates the introduction of another measure, it tells us that that is what the Government need to do to tackle tobacco, but as soon as it is implemented we are told that actually it was a load of old cobblers and now we need something else. It is like those companies that tell us their washing powder is absolutely magnificent, only to bring out a new one a couple of years later and tell us that the previous one was actually terrible and that really we need to buy the new one. ASH cannot now hand over the keys to the company car; it has to keep going and justifying its role. It will keep coming up with new, innovative solutions to try to keep its jobs, which no doubt the Government will accept, because they do not have a mind of their own and just have to do what ASH tells them to do.Yep, that just about sums it up. Respect.