Thursday 23 April 2009

Who Are 'Crazy' In Scotland, Tom Harris?

On certain matters, the inherited Puddlecote memory is almost elephantine**. Today is a fine example, as, after reading an astonishing document earlier, the first thing that jumped into my head was Tom Harris (it was a tight squeeze), regarding something he said on his blog in October.

But the Department of Health recently held a consultation on whether the smoking ban should be extended into people’s private vehicles and homes. Now, I know this caused a great deal of perfectly understandable outrage among a lot of people. So let me make this clear: the government will not, under any circumstances, legislate to stop people smoking in private. It would be a crazy move and, believe it or not, ministers are not crazy people - they’re politicians and they recognise political realities.

And if they did attempt to legislate in this direction, I would risk the wrath of those who don’t believe Scottish MPs should vote on English matters by voting against it.

But as I say, I won’t need to, because it’s not going to happen.

Now, I quite like Tom's blog, he seems a decent enough chap, but surprisingly for a Labour politician, he possesses a semblance of common sense which he believes others in his profession share. If the prospect wasn't so incredibly terrifying, it would almost be worth Labour getting back in just to see if Tom would be true to his word on his voting intentions. Because, let's be in no doubt, if Labour were to secure a fourth term, banning smoking in cars and homes would most definitely be on their agenda.

In Jockland, the process has already started. In the beating heart of puritannical Britain, it's not if, but when.

Just published is this document, reporting on how 112 anti-tobacco professionals are working out how best to tip-toe through the subject of banning smoking in your own home.

Action to achieve smoke-free homes- an exploration of experts' views.

Needless to say, no opposing view is invited to this particular focus group.

In order to help inform the development of effective action on this issue, this paper explores the views of people working in tobacco control, at the local and national level in Scotland, about the potential for and feasibility of creating smoke-free homes.

There is no discussion of whether this is the correct thing to do. All they are concerned with is working out how to go about it.

On the one hand the home is a private space and there is some resistance found in the ethical debates inherent in public health literature to the blurring of the public/private boundary for smoke-free public health interventions. This is often articulated by libertarian arguments advocating the rights of smokers in their own home and opposing perceived encroachment of the State into private space.

On the one had the home is a private space? What other hand is there, exactly? I also liked the part about the encroachment of the state into private space being merely 'perceived'. No, it's real, because that is exactly what they are sitting around a table to work towards. I don't 'perceive' that they are doing it, I can see with my own fucking eyes that they are.

The conclusion, as if we were in any doubt what 112 people paid by the state to persecute smokers would say, is.

We, the authors, would argue that a clear goal of smoke-free homes should be advocated but that this approach should be located within tobacco control practice that is both sensitive to inequalities and gendered lives.

Now, Tom Harris said that this would be a crazy idea. He said that ministers are not crazy people. Yet who is paying for this nonsense?

This study was funded by NHS Health Scotland and the Scottish Executive.

We know full well that Scotland is a testing ground for every daft law that eventually migrates south under this administration, and here we have the scottish government funding a bunch of interfering chimps (who they already pay to be interfering chimps) to investigate how to invade our homes.

If Harris is correct and politicians aren't that stupid, then why is this line of enquiry being funded? Who is in charge? Our elected representatives, the health professionals, or the civil servants in the respective departments of health?

In a perverse kind of way, one almost hopes that it is the politicians who are more stupid than Tom Harris can bring himself to believe. At least then we can be mildly reassured that some form of democracy is still prevalent in the UK. The alternative is rather more scary to contemplate.

**I may have made that word up

H/T F2C blog


Witterings from Witney said...


I see they go for the jugular in the first para - "Smoking in the home is the major cause of exposure to second-hand smoke in children in the UK, particularly those living in low income households which have fewer restrictions on smoking in the home. Reducing children’s exposure to second-hand smoke is an important public health and inequalities issue."

So straight away its for the children!!!! In fact page 13 onwards is all about how to accomplish this by using children as the 'key' or 'lever'!

I shall link to your post now with a story!

Unknown said...

But I have no children? Am I safe from the lunatic smoking police and their masters? I live in a block of flats surrounded by pensioners...are they safe from my second, third and fourth hand smoke. WTF is going on in todays lunatic Britain???

timbone said...

Tom Harris is a decent person and MP who does not always toe the party line. He was sacked as Minister for Transport for a reason he does not even know himself. It is important to remember that Tom did not follow his party in the smoking ban vote, he used his common sense and voted against it. I think the fact that Tom, as you have illustrated, does not even realise how low some of his colleagues can stoop, again shows that he is unable to comprehend nastiness, because he is too nice.

I don't know whether it has been done already, but I will draw Tom's attention to this particular blog. You never know, he might have something to say about it.
I will also link Kerry McCarthy to it, it will be interesting to see if she has anything to say.

If this kind of legislation were to be presented for a vote, I am at a loss to know what the result would be. I also wonder what the publics'response would be. Could it be the final straw which at last wakes them up? Or would it be like it is now, lots of smokers lying down and taking the punishment without so much as a whimper - (I have lost smoking friends over this).

banned said...

"...tobacco control practice that is both sensitive to inequalities and gendered lives." WTF is that supposed to mean ?

It is illegal for any person to smoke in any motor vehicle in the Channel Islands btw.

Unknown said...

I *love* the fact that they consider privacy, particularly that of one's own home, a 'libertarian' (and therefore suspect) ideology.

Anonymous said...

That this is the 'correct thing to do' is a given with these bastards.

I, too, wondered what the hell 'gendered lives' were.

The other day a Belgian politician was being interviewed on R4 about this very issue. His strategy is to soften the public up first by banning smoking in cars with children and only once that has become acceptable to move into the home. He admitted that it would be unenforceable UNLESS there was another reason for state agencies to be in the home. You can see it now, can't you - little Johnny appears tired at school and has filled out his questionnaire about mum and dad's lifestyle. Social workers visit and decide that this is explicable by his exposure to ETS, parents are threatened with removal of Johnny unless they agree to stop smoking in the home which is enforced by compulsory attendance for swabbing at the local smokefree clinic....

Heard David Cameron this morning say that if they were elected they'd start to dismantle the quangocray - hopefully this will include the fake charities and others that make up the tobacco controllers.

(Sorry about the language but sometimes you've just got to let rip)


timbone said...

As promised, I contacted Tom and also Kerry McCarthy. I am sure they will not mind me quoting their responses.

Tom Harris said "Thanks for this Food for thought. May blog on it later."

Kerry McCarthy said "As far as I know it's not on agenda in UK, never heard it mentioned even in passing + I work with lots of children's groups."

Captain Ranty said...

Brilliant post, DP.

The trouble with these fuckwits is that what is seemingly harmless muttering today becomes enshrined in law tomorrow.

Interfering fuckers.

Piano wire is too good for them.

wv = sunces. Only one letter out, how apropos.

cornyborny said...

Leg-Iron was so right to call these types the "Righteous". A move such as that described makes so little sense, on any level - scientific, legal, financial, moral, electoral - that the motivation can only be a form of religious zealotry.

Combine the above with layer upon layer of chronically-underemployed government, desperate to appear vital and (hard to type, this) caring, and you've got one slippery bastard of a slippery slope.

Anonymous said...

Don't smoke
don't like i
but will defend to the end those of you that do
Personally feel they should have given pubs the options of being non-smoking or smoking as for in your own home! ridiculous!

Dick Puddlecote said...


Kerry McCarthy said "As far as I know it's not on agenda in UKApart from the 30 page report funded by the Scottish NHS and Assembly, produced as a pdf, and published on the internet, of course.

If it's not on the agenda, perhaps Kerry should be asking why taxpayer resources are being spent in such a way. She can do that by proxy seeing as Labour are the opposition in Scotland (which was still in the UK last I looked).

Wouldn't that be classed as a hell of a waste of money?

timbone said...

Yes Dick. As you will of course realise, I was only quoting her reply. My immediate thoughts were that the previous director of ASH said in 1998 (think that is right) that smoking would never be banned in pubs. I believe that was also being said by a Labour MP in 2004.

Dr Evil said...

Remind me again about how many bastard officials have right of entry to your home enshrined by laws under Noo Labour?

Dr Evil said...

Oh, and didn't the Labour manifesto talk about ventilated smoking rooms in pubs? I think it is an EU diktat to have a tobacco smoke-free EU.

timbone said...

I have said it before, and I will say it again. The ASH director who said that smoking would never be banned in pubs was a MAN. His replacement who organised a campaign to 'force the government who were commited to a voluntary approach' to legislate a complete ban was a WOMAN.
The Labour MP who said they would never ban smoking in pubs was a MAN, John Reid. He hated Deborah Arnoot and she hated him. When he was replaced by a WOMAN, (Spewit), we got a total smoking ban.

Dick Puddlecote said...

They don't call it nannying for nothing, Tim. ;-)