Monday, 29 February 2016

Could Tobacco Control Extremism Help Us Get Out Of The EU?

As piss poor legislation goes, the EU's updated Tobacco Products Directive (TPD2) - which regulates e-cigs to within an inch of their life along with other ideologically stupid nonsense - ticks a lot of idiocy boxes for law-making and proves the public are correct in despising modern politicians and bureaucrats.

It hasn't been missed by those campaigning against our membership of the EU either, I mean how could it? Their role is to highlight how inept and pathetic the EU is and why we'd be better off out. So TPD2 is a Godsend.

In October those campaigning to leave saw the TPD as a perfect example of counterproductive EU over-reach, just the sort of thing to get hackles rising about unnecessary Brussels interference.
The innovation to help smokers quit that could save millions of lives is being held back by EU rules. 
If you are one of the country’s three million vapers, or you know somebody who you would like to quit smoking, then you should vote ‘Leave’ in the EU referendum.
Yep, can't argue with that.

By way of example, in 2013 I travelled to Brussels to take part in a protest against the TPD on the day the EU parliament held a debate in which the views of voters were roundly ignored.

Prior to that vote, MEPs had received tens or even hundreds of thousands of emails and other messages from vapers throughout the continent pleading with them not to pass the crap legislation they were planning to. As vapers waited in Place de Luxembourg for news, those who had ventured inside came out to report that not only had we all been ignored, but tobacco controllers were high-fiving and hugging each other at having killed off vaping for good!

I have to point out that this included many who now claim to be onside with e-cigs and the concept of harm reduction.

The decision taken that day - to regulate e-cigs as medical devices - was later turned over by the parliament before the democratic process was abandoned entirely and Article 20 of the TPD was crafted in camera, well away from prying eyes, with no scrutiny or voting process whatsover. It was also passed without anyone bothering to weigh up how it might harm legal industries and the public by way of an impact assessment.

What is even more damning for the way laws and regulations are introduced within the EU is the ignorant and incompetent behaviour of Anna Soubry  - the most ridiculous minister the UK has ever had the misfortune to suffer, or "repulsive little liar" depending on your viewpoint  - in endorsing such an appalling decision by the EU.

To explain the above, she went to the EU - behind the back of parliament and bypassing all proper scrutiny - to vote on a directive about which she knew virtually nothing. Yet she claimed, and I quote:
"I'm not going to pretend that I just did what my officials said because it wasn't like that in any event."
So she, instead, claimed that she was able to vote as she did - or subvert democracy to use the proper term - by keeping a parliamentary committee in the dark, in order to unilaterally vote on a set of measures without even knowing what was on the table. It was clear that she was under the impression that e-cigs had been dropped from the TPD altogether.

This is without mentioning the way the TPD was rigged from as early as the consultation stage by vested interests and infiltrated by pharma lobbyists from its very inception. Oh yeah, and we'll also not mention the mysterious support for the TPD we weren't allowed to see when the EU were ignoring public rejection of the directive, and let's also pass over the TPD originating commissioner's sacking for soliciting bribes.

TPD2 is the EU at its very worst. It proves beyond doubt that the entire edifice is corrupt to the core, entirely undemocratic, a hostage to vested interests and state-funded NGO trouser-stuffers, contrary to the public good, and long overdue for being dismantled.

So it was interesting to see this tweet over the weekend.

Sinclair is a sidekick of Matt Elliott, Chief Executive of the Vote Leave campaign and the mastermind behind No To AV winning the AV referendum in 2011 from a very low base (but finishing with 67% of the vote).

It's clear that the TPD has been identified by the 'out' campaign as an archetypal example of EU over-reach and UK government kow-towing to anti-democratic Brussels. Soubry was able to bypass our own government despite being completely unaware of what she was voting for, simply because of the harmful power the EU wields over the UK. By the same token, the public was barred from any input by multiple levels of bureaucracy, despite corruption arguably being a factor in at least three different ways.

What happened with the TPD was that the public - who unusually engaged in record numbers with an EU directive - were sidelined in favour of hideously biased NGOs, professional lobbyists, crooks, charlatans and shit-for-brains politicians who knew they could just say "well, you know, EU" and avoid an arse-whipping. The TPD illustrates that the EU Commission creates laws which it wants to inflict on the EU electorate, and if we object the answer is not to listen, but instead to dodge, obfuscate, gerrymander, and - if all else fails - take proceedings behind closed doors to ensure the Commission's proposals are railroaded through and the public's views are treated with contempt.

It's a good tactic from the 'leave' campaign to use the TPD as an example of how disgraceful EU law-making can be. No-one asked for the TPD, it was just decided that it was about time the EU had another one. It deliberately avoided public engagement and - in fact - connived and conspired to do the very opposite of what public opinion demanded by way of democratic engagement. Instead it reinforced the agendas of a small number of state-funded and policy-based careerists - many of whom lie as a matter of course - despite their not understanding the subject matter, and the rules it set in stone are unchallengeable for the UK and other member states for a decade at least. It's also a brilliant example of why the term 'regulation' is not always anything to do with making anything safer or more efficient, and why the tobacco control industry really couldn't give a shit about health.

It's only one of many policy areas where EU interference is unnecessary and quite pathetic - recent 'worthy' goals of the EU have focussed on regulating hooverscandles and toasters - and you can be sure that in each area the public will not have requested the interference, and will be given short shrift if they even attempt to object.

But when you have a city in Belgium packed to the gills with thousands upon thousands of regulators, what else are they going to do but regulate? Consequences fly out the window when a gravy train is in full flow.

What is particularly interesting for we who watch these events, though, is how the relatively niche issue of the TPD has been taken up by the 'Leave' campaign so enthusiastically. We've always known that the tobacco control industry is the most disingenuous, mendacious, corrupt and rancid of all state-funded lobby groups, but here we have those who wish to leave the EU recognising it and shining some light under the rocks where tobacco control sits grubbily sucking on our taxes and spreading discord and hate.

Now, wouldn't it be delicious if the egregious abuse of truth, democracy, transparency and civil discourse - which the tobacco control Goliath trades upon to keep itself at the taxpayer trough - turns out to be instrumental in getting us out of the EU whose opaque and anti-democratic practices they love so much?

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