Monday 12 July 2010

The Great Repeal Swindle

It's taken a couple of months, but this 'new politics' is beginning to properly reveal itself. As I now understand it, it means two parties telling us what to do instead of one.

It also involves awe-inspiring levels of spin which would have Tony Blair applauding in delight and rapturous admiration.

Remember this?

In a speech delivered this morning the deputy prime minister promised the coalition government will introduce the "biggest shake up of our democracy" since the 1832 Great Reform Act.

"As we tear through the statute book, we'll do something no government ever has: we will ask you which laws you think should go," he added.
Note that he didn't actually say that they would listen, as proven by cuddly Clegg's cosy little cafe chat with us over the weekend.

Got that? Not only is an amendment to the smoking ban not to be considered, it is "of course" not going to be considered. With a smile and a cheeky chuckle. The cunt.

At time of writing, discussions on amending the smoking ban have attracted more than double the comments of those on any other subject. Not only that, the number of people 'asking' Nick for such an amendment was so large that the moderators were forced to close their additions to the debate and redirect the many contributors to other threads. That, too, presented problems as there were so many threads that moderators became confused as to where they were supposed to be redirecting, leading to commenters being pointed to discussions which had also already been closed.

Cleary, then, there was a very hefty reaction to Clegg's stimulus, just as John Redwood experienced when asking the same general question as that posed by the Your Freedom site, back in May.

The most popular repeal from contributors to my website would be to repeal the section in the Health Act that bans smoking in all public places, to allow smoking again in specified rooms and areas.
Now, if Clegg was truly asking the public which laws to revisit, such a weighty response would merit at least a debate on the matter. But instead the issue has exposed the entire 'crowd-sourcing' exercise as a highly elaborate con trick.

Liberal Vision's Tom Papworth (from whom I pinched the headline) predicted as much last month.

In practice, however, one has to wonder just how genuine this exercise will be. Please don’t misunderstand! I do not think for one moment that our new Ministers are consciously planning to provide us with a sham consultation. But do you really think that in practice they will approach this exercise with an open mind?
There can't be a more closed mind than one which states that 'of course' the coalition aren't even going to consider widescale antipathy and resentment towards a law enacted without electoral mandate and which was forced through, employing skullduggery and lies, thereby roughly bludgeoning reasonable democratic process along the way.

Especially when it can easily be argued to fit Clegg's three criteria for consideration.

The Deputy Prime Minister asks people to concentrate on three areas:

- Laws that have eroded civil liberties (1).

- Regulations that stifle the way charities and businesses work (2).

- Laws that are not required and which are likely to see law-abiding citizens criminalised (3).
Arguably ...

1) There cannot be a more egregious contravention of civil liberties than to deny a property owner and his/her customers some form of self-determination over their own interaction.

2) Especially when it stifles the way pubs, for example, work, and have done for hundreds of years. Thousands have closed, over 1,400 before any recession showed itself, and the government itself have conceded that businesses are suffering under the Health Act, and are entitled to a rebate on their rates. Remember too that Clegg's blithe dismissal means that the ridiculous and entirely health-irrelevant 50% rule for outside shelters is also not to be reconsidered.

3) As the government never tire of telling us, the smoking ban is wildly popular so why would a law be required (unless there are porkies being told here)? What's more, I reckon Nick Hogan may have something to say about the criminalisation - and incarceration - of property owners by government sanction.

All criteria have been satisfied; all questions have been answered; boxes ticked; engagement entered into; time spent; co-operation delivered. Yet the coalition have abjectly failed to meet the basic requirements expected from a government which professes to embrace liberty and inclusion ... while at the same time proving that they are as wedded to single interest pressure groups, fake charities, state-funded quangoes and the hideously self-centred in society who demand an absolute veto over the lives of others, as the last lot.

Listening to the people, my arse.

The Your Freedom website has been a disastrously implemented (the thing crashed repeatedly for the first couple of days and is still slow) exercise in futility. For the public, anyway. For Clegg, it gave him the chance to pretend he was something that he is not ... a liberal.

Instead, he was the school teacher asking his pupils what kind of play they would like to stage. Brightly responding to every reply with "good idea, Johnny", "great suggestion, Jane", before settling on the one response which matched the scenery he had already instructed the caretaker to produce. The class are convinced they had an input, but 'teach' knows exactly how he manipulated his charges.

Clegg quite clearly isn't interested in listening to the public on this, he only wishes to repeal laws which the coalition have already discussed and decided upon. And when tabling the bill that they have already written, he will point to suggestions from Bill in Rochdale, Margaret in Swansea and Rob in Maidstone as being the sole motivation.

More applause from Tony Blair.

So what are we to take from this charade? Well, I'd venture to suggest that we're now governed by yet more fuckwitted morons who wish to dance through life doing as they please, whilst simultaneously being baffled as to why the public trust them less than they would a beardy beggar on heroin.

All of which leaves only one suggestion as valid for the website. That the entire site be consigned to the dustbin as a waste of our taxes. It's a fucking sham.

H/T Taking Liberties

UPDATE: There is still one topic left on the Your Freedom site which is relevant.

This "consultation" is a sham, give us free speech


Anonymous said...

Brilliant post. I forgot all about the Redwood blog results. Also, check out the EDM discussion on ConHome. A couple of antis at the beginning then it's just scores if not hundreds of pro-choice comments.

This issue isn't going to go away as much as they may want it to. What I don't get though, is why are they clinging to it so much? If it was any other law (apart from kiddy fiddling.... maybe) if there was so much evidence against it and such clear weight of public opinion for repeal it would have happened already. Why are they so blatantly shutting discussion down? It's not as if there's no precedent for repeal in other countries, after all.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I've always felt that this 'coalition' is just the new PR name for the supranational government (EU ahem) calling the shots.

This really is a case of the aware people of this country going up against the State, which is and always will be the enemy, not to be trust. It is our duty to kick them up the arse at every opportunity.

I feel that their job is to talk shit, use smoke and mirrors to divert some of the anti-state energy building up in this country. Hopefully it won't work, in fact it may accelerate the resistance. :-)

Anonymous said...

Why are they so blatantly shutting discussion down?

They're also blantantly shutting pubs down :-)

George Speller

DaveA said...

Clegg is not in my good books. The smoking ban is a particularly good litmus test for the ConDem coalition and Your Freedom integrity. If they do not offer an olive branch or two, I very rarely swear on public forums, but Clegg will in my eyes be a cunt.

Trooper Thompson said...

If they meant action, they'd be taking it already against the things they themselves had identified - they who do this Westminster politicking for a living. They don't know what needs repealing, they don't even know what they think needs repealing, so they ask the public. Liberal Democrats; if you can't be liberal, at least be democratic. 'Here's the menu, pick anything - NOT THAT! - Anything ... else.

In reality, all there is is the chef's special; a very thin soup indeed.

Ciaran said...

There's also a vast amount of support there for repealing prohibition and ending the War on Drugs-Except-Alcohol. Clearly there's no chance of them considering that, despite the VAST amount of money (that we haven't got) that is wasted on the whole futile fiasco.

As you say, the whole "your freedom" exercise is a complete and utter sham, and always was from the outset.

It doesn't affect me any more, but I can't help thinking that smokers should be standing up and taking action (e.g. flouting the law) in an organised fashion, rather than begging this Clegg character to please make a teensy weensy little amendment in their favour.

Twisted Root said...

Notice also how he bracketed relaxing the smoking ban with bringing back the death penalty. Quality spin indeed.

JJ said...

Civil disobedience will be the only way forward on this issue.

Anonymous said...


Some years ago F2C did a smoking pub crawl. But being nice guys they only smoked in pubs where the landlord was amenable.

Things have changed. Direct action is now the only way forward. Groups need to be organised to take over and smoke in pubs. Call the Police? It's a civil matter. Call the Smoke Police? What are they going to do - fine a landlord for not throwing out twenty smoking blokes when he's already asked them to go several times? Fuck 'em. The suffragettes didn't get change by whining on a website. Shit had to happen.

Direct action is all that's left. Regular flash smoking in multiple public venues.

Angry Exile said...

What a little prick Clegg is. The modern UK definition of a Liberal Democrat is clearly someone who is not liberal and doesn't give a shit about democracy. I wish I could say I was surprised but I'm not.

banned said...

You would think that if DaveNick was so clever he might realise that a fairly small compromise (ie permitting licensed smoking dives at the back-end of industrial estates) would shut us all up (20-25% of the electorate) and allow the Coalition to parade themselves as listeners and carers, thick cunts.

I will never vote Tory again until the absolute ban is ammended.

Anonymous said...

"Let them smoke outside."
"Let them eat cake."

I don't think Mr Clegg is going to like his second-hand death penalty.

Pat Nurse MA said...

JJ - I agree. Civil disobedience IS the only way forward.

We have been lied to, conned, cheated, used and abused and it's time to make our voice heard.

They will not listen to us using the means they allow us to speak, so something must be done.

I am surprised that anyone believed this great con -including myself - as that great illiberal demotwat Pack made clear the smoking ban was off limits last year when he fist mooted this scam.

So JJ - or anyone - what sort of civil disobedience should our action take? I say a mass smoke in and no leaving the premises until we've got at least one gormless political twat prepared to listen.

Anonymous said...

Of course these cunts don't give a fuck. They can smoke all they like in the House of Commons bar, plus buy booze for a third of the price we have to pay. They lie, cheat and steal - we have a political system which rewards the best sociopaths and kleptocrats with the greatest rewards.

Britain is a feudal backwater, sorely in need of some civil disobediance against the masters who proclaim themselves civil servants.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Field Marshal: Yep, the state is indeed our enemy. We've just got shot of a government who had declared war on us, now we have one which refuses to call a truce.

Ciaran: The war on drugs is another issue where common sense is lost on these idiots in Westminster. Decades of failure, and physical damage, attributable to prohibition and still they don't act in the public interest. They WILL have seen the huge amount of evidence pointing to the disastrous consequences of the war on drugs, but choose to ignore it to satisfy the purse-lipped righteous.

Banned: Indeed. All that was requested here was an amendment yet our overlords have decided that we aren't even allowed that. This infantilisation is never to end it would seem, no matter the political stripe.

Fuck this smug coalition. They've had their chance to show us they can listen and blew it big time. Personally, I'll be hoping for (and acting towards) a calamitous collapse of this government.

JJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JJ said...

Pat – The answer Pat to your question is fairly straightforward. Remember the hunting demo carried out in the House of Commons by Otis Ferry (son of one time pop star Brian Ferry), and the accompanying publicity that surrounding it…all nicely and loudly purveyed to the six o’clock news for all to see.

No banners are needed, just concealed cigarettes, cigars and pipes all ready to light up in unison when instructed to do so. Twenty or thirty volunteers would do the trick. What a rumpus it would cause in the seat of ‘decmocracy’, sadly I use this word very loosely.

Forest would I’m sure be able to organise something like this quite easily…at least far better than all the champagne quaffing that goes on at the Boisdale…which quite clearly has had no effect whatsoever...although (get this) everyone could retire to the Boisdale after the demo - eh?

I look forward to a call to arms very soon…I hope.

I have suggested on several occasions in the past…that a well placed person on college green with a placard in the form of a no smoking sign (I’ve made many: ‘Smokers will be persecuted like no other minority’) when the broadcast media are interviewing, which they do on a regular basis, would have a big impact and at no cost except the cost of the placard.

It’s all about attention from the media, especially broadcast, that would make all the difference.
You have only to look at Fathers for Justice, and their amount of publicity – didn’t do them any harm did it?

Anonymous said...

JJ - I think you can forget Simon at Forest organising civil disobedience - he's said before that he can't condone law-breaking.

I like your placard idea but we'd need a fair few otherwise the media would just cut us out of the frame. What might be effective is to protest on an ongoing basis with 'teams' of protesters.

As usual, the stumbling block is organising it. What about a site to which smokers (and pro-choice non-smokers) who want to protest are driven?


J Bonington Jagworth said...

"They can smoke all they like in the House of Commons bar"

Perhaps we should propose their inclusion, then? The resultant hostility might help focus a few minds.

BTW, the choice of the phrase 'Your Freedom' has PR spin all over it. Freedom is freedom (or 'freem' as Dubya used to call it).

J Bonington Jagworth said...

"Smokers will be persecuted"

A stealthy campaign to replace any instance of 'prosecuted' with 'persecuted' in a matching typeface might be effective. :-)

JJ said...

Jay - You would not be breaking any law...afterall the law does not apply to the Palace of Westminster.

You're right Simon Clarke would be perhaps too weak to countenance such a thing...too strong for his water. But I believe he will have to think about it at some stage. I still believe its the best bet for maximum publicity.
Surely he could though, organise some placard demos.

Lets be clear, no amount of schmoozing at the Boisdale will change things.

Complexmessiah said...

Unknown said...

@Anon 13 July 2010 00:01

"Some years ago F2C did a smoking pub crawl"

I took the video (one of two) called The Westgate Run in Wakefield, UK. I have to stress though that the protest 'pub crawl' was not a Freedom2Choose initiative as our constitution forbids breaking the law in the name of F2C.

The Westgate Run protest was initiated by fellow publicans in the Westgate area of Wakefield who were sickened by the hostility of the smoking ban and their ability to run their businesses.

Sadly some of the pubs we visited had changed their minds and would not participate and refused to let us smoke in their establishments thereby losing around £200 as we all bought a drink and stayed only for about half an hour at each participating pub.

When I got home I was still on a high because of these brave people who needed to demonstrate their anger at this vile law. I was full of hope that the coalition would see sense and repeal this most erroneous of laws but totally forgot that Clegg and Co were politicians!

Please note on the video a pub landlord and his wife,(Ray & Jill McHale who run The Painters Arms) who came on the march with us and shouted "Bin the Ban." We held many a meeting at their pub and were allowed to smoke in their smoking section, much to the annoyance of the local council.

I echo the commentators above, an excellent piece but I'd expect no less from you DP.

Anonymous said...

As usual, the stumbling block is organising it. What about a site to which smokers (and pro-choice non-smokers) who want to protest are driven?

What about organising it in a shopping mall?

Little Black Sambo said...

"... he was the school teacher asking his pupils what kind of play they would like to stage."

Anonymous said...

The "Sham" thread you forwarded us to is now gone. It was a duplicate (the guy who set it up accidentally set up two, undoubtedly due to the glacial loading speeds of the site) and they have erased the one with the most votes and comments leaving the one people had been ignoring. Also, it does look like the original has been erased, rather than blocked.

It just gets worse and worse....

Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha ha, another painful defeat for you greasy reactionaries posing as liberals and friends of freedom.

Please waste lots more of your valueless time whining about this entirely sensible and practical piece of legislation.

Unknown said...

"Ha ha ha ha, another painful defeat for you greasy reactionaries posing as liberals and friends of freedom.

Please waste lots more of your valueless time whining about this entirely sensible and practical piece of legislation.

Ha ha ha ha, clasic! Never heard that one before.

Anonymous said...

Gays had their Stonewall. Blacks had their Rosa Parks.

When will smokers have the same courage to have theirs?

Or will they forever remain shunted in the closet, too afraid to come forward.

That's really the only way discrimination and hatred is ever overcome, is by show of defiance and through courage.

Perhaps smokers, have none.

This only invites more hatred and discrimination as "the smokers" will remain seen as cowardly. And smoking will be seen as something symbolic of cowardness, a far cry from those fly-boys and army-nurses of a generation earlier who smoked their way through two world-wars while defeating dictators.

"The smokers" will be seen as cowards now instead, for lack of courage, for being spineless.

cornyborny said...

Geez, give them a chance. How old is the ban? Three years?

Unknown said...

Yup Corny, three fuckin' long years! I'm not about to let it go into a fourth year! I will shout to the top of my voice untill this fookin' ban is repealed, not amended, fucking repealed...I am getting more militant by the day!

Pat Nurse MA said...

JJ I'm still up for it and I can bring three people. Not many but three each of all who comment here - except the bigoted anti - will be enough of a crowd.

Please correct me if am wrong, but isn't the onus on the proprietor of premises - such as pub landlords - to enforce the ban and if they don't, they get court - or jailed as in Nick Hogan's case?

I believe it isn't against the law for smokers to smoke indoors but it is against the law for the owner not to stop us from smoking. If so, then maybe our action should be at Cleggy's place - his constituency office.

Nick Hogan got jailed for "allowing" smoking when he wasn't even there - what will they do to Cleggy if he fails to enforce the ban in his own office and his excuser that wasn't there shouldn't wash - although I guess in reality there is one law for some and another law for others in this country.

Yup - no point in asking Simon at Forest for help. As much as I admire what he has done for us to date, his methods are not working and we do need direct action of which, I think, Simon does not approve.

I believe the time has come. We have been left with no other option. It is time to force them to listen because whispering gently in their thick lugholes is just not getting through.

Who here can get to Cleggy's place and when?

Anonymous said...

There's a letter in the Dail Mail today from someone who lived Cardiff but now lives in Michigan, about law abiding drinkers. He goes on to say:

The big difference is the constant exposure in the media of drinking -even to excess - which seems to be socially acceptable in the UK.

The lives of characters in popular TV soaps, Cornation St, Eastenders etc., are all centred around drinking in the pub, and even stage plays and inconsequential chit chat on TV & radio rarely misses an opportunity to promote drinking.

But this is the best bit:

We should remember that smoking once considered NORMAL, is now UNACCEPTABLE, and a major cultural shift is needed to make drunkenness unacceptable if British attidtudes to drinking are to change. Perhaps new legislation, or stricter enforcement of present laws, such as large fines on parents if minors are involved - is what Britain needs.

From Dr Adrian J Christie

I'd say America is welcome to this arrogant prat. But sadly people like this prat end up being taken seriously.

Anonymous said...

Why are leading politicians not listening to the pleas for freedom?

Let me enlighten those whose heads are firmly stuck in the sand,those
who inhabit the realms of trust,
those whose faith in politeness and
correctness is unyielding,those
whose undying faith in democracy
courts appeasement.
The very ones who had bettter waken
up,put up or shut up

We are too few,we are to nice,we
are divided,we are but hi tech
digital ghosts. We are scared of
the streets,the slummy door ways,
we keep our distance from the ruffians,we cant contemplate
upsetting the smug and righteous
who sit in comfort looking out on
others treated like lepers.
Less chirping,less waffling,less
web whingeing,less digital dithering and megabyte muttering.
Hard copy is needed,the messge in
everyday English,on real paper
pumped out relentlessly week in and week out to those millions
not yet imprisoned in the hyperspace of endless natter.
We've got the signal corps,we've got the band ,now where the hell
is the infantry.
Get your heads together,sort it and cut the crap.

Free Corps

Anonymous said...

Still in the pipeline, is the coalition's pledge to enact a bill which would allow 100,000 petition signatures to trigger a debate in the HoC.

Note - just a debate, which will be rigged by whipping, no doubt.

The politicos can't disobey the EU or UN, can they? Yesterday's debate on the EU diplomatic service certainly proved that, with Lidlington being welcomed by Labour into the EU fold.

How depressing, but predictable.