Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Be Afraid, Drinks Industry, Very Afraid

When Harriet Harman spoke of contract law judgements spanning centuries being swept away by 'the court of public opinion', she was roundly condemned as being, well, a bit mad. Her uncontrollable anger led to an outburst which was rightly ridiculed as a temper tantrum in contravention of controls nurtured by this country against heavy-handed corporations and state totalitarianism.

Her colleague and hideous health bully, Kevin Barron, has been spouting equally dangerous ideologies - but oddly, this time no-one really turns much of a hair (emphases mine).

The revelation that the campaign [against a government ban on cigarette displays in shops] was funded by BAT is significant. Under international guidelines, the UK government is obliged to ensure the drafting of all legislation is free from tobacco industry influence. Now, the fact some MPs may have been unaware the campaign was backed by tobacco money has angered anti-smoking groups.

BAT's admission has prompted Barron to write to the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, warning the government's commitment to tobacco control "is being undermined by covert lobbying by the tobacco industry".
The 'guidelines' being referenced here are specifically Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which states:

In setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law.
Just to translate, this means that when governments pass tobacco control laws, any opposition must be ignored or silenced at all costs. It matters not that the company is a legal tax-paying entity, that the product is legal and that its customers are themselves eye-wateringly taxed, and within their rights to consume it. No lobbying or representations of any kind are allowed.

Remember that the WHO is entirely unelected, so what we have here is Barron actively promoting a body no-one voted for, over and above convention - cultivated by the British people, parliament, and judiciary for over a millennium - which naturally entitles a legal industry to lobby and argue in defence of their business, their retailers, and their customers.

He was, however, hypocritically quiet when his government nodded through the regulations concerned thanks to quite shocking misdirection of parliament which, of course, is a punishable crime under real laws, passed by real UK democratically-elected politicians.

Barron doesn't seem to be as energised over that, though.

Because where tobacco is concerned we are living in a post-legal and post-democratic age. Harman's fantasy of acting on whatever whim a self-regarding MP cares to choose is already here. In anti-tobacco circles, even widespread price-fixing cartels - illegal in every jurisdiction throughout the civilised world - are actively, and openly, encouraged by the very bodies which usually abhor them.

Kevin Barron finds nothing wrong with this. After all, he was the MP who in 2009 decided that none of you were worth listening to anyway.

"We are the state's representative in our constituencies and we should not be frightened of taking decisions on behalf of our constituents, because that is to the general good."
The idea that his employers - the public - might have their own ideas about how to live their lives is alien to this guy. What he says goes, and that's that.

The drinks industry should be very afraid of this man. Not only does he believe that the British people have no right in determining their own lives and that it's scandalous for businesses to stand up for themselves (though perfectly acceptable for parliament to be illegally influenced by lies from fake charities), but he also has the same treatment lined up for alcohol.

He was an enthusiastic booster for Sarah Wollaston's plan to prohibit alcohol advertising, for example, and he believes that a bottle of spirits should cost between £38.60 and £62.

Considering the fact that he finds democratic process and the rights of producers to defend themselves so very tiresome, he'll surely not balk at denying the drinks industry's right to lobby just as he hysterically jumps up and down at BAT for having the temerity to disagree with his righteous pronouncements.

He has the same supranational, unelected backing in that as well. You see, the WHO also have a Framework Policy for Alcohol Control, complete with a clause they have effortlessly picked up from the successful campaign against tobacco. You might recognise this bit (page 19).

Public health policies concerning alcohol need to be formulated by public health interests, without interference from commercial interests.
The tobacco control template strikes again.

It's not going to be long before Barron is ignoring the public's free will on alcohol, and condemning Guinness, Diageo, Punch Taverns (if they still exist by then) etc as evil entities who have no right to comment on laws being passed against them.

Because there's nothing a petty, self-important, dictatorial bully despises more than open democratic accountability and transparent debate. Oh no, that way opens the door to far too much common sense and compromise, and that just won't do at all.

Alcohol guys, I'd start making extremely loud noises now if I were you. Backsliding and appeasement are simply not an option anymore.


Christopher Snowdon said...

"We are the state's representative in our constituencies"

I remember him saying that. Eight words that sum up everything that's wrong about British politics. What a loathsome creature he is.

Ivan D said...

Kevin Barron is what our ancestors fought so hard to defend us from.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Barron is a perfect example of the bully state in action. BAT aren't allowed to emit so much as a squeak, yet Barron thinks it amusing to rock up at their AGM and dish out grief ... the responses to which will be ignored by the honourable (pfft) member for Rother Valley, natch.

Anonymous said...

Why the elderly and sick stand outside.

Article 8

24.Creates an obligation to provide universal protection by ensuring that all indoor public places, all indoor workplaces, all public transport and possibly other (outdoor or quasi-outdoor) public places are free from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.

No exemptions are justified on the basis of health or law arguments.

If exemptions must be considered on the basis of other arguments, these should be minimal. In addition, if a Party is unable to achieve universal coverage immediately,

Article 8 creates a continuing obligation to move as quickly as possible to remove any exemptions and make the protection universal."

"No exemptions are justified on the basis of health or law arguments."


DerekP said...

The principles of dictators everywhere:

"No exemptions are justified on the basis of health or law arguments."

w/v = unmen


Anonymous said...

I think they should ban drinks in pubs. This will make things more healthy, would even the playing field and increase business opportunity for those pubs smart enough to know how to adjust to changing times. Besides, it can be disgusting at times seeing people drink alcohol and behaving light-headed whenever healthier alternatives are available. Nor do I fancy having to breath in the stench from evaporating alcohol when it's left sitting out in open containers beside me. Hopefully the government will see this as a problem and act accordingly, before it's too late.

Carl V Phillips said...

Isn't that quote Snowdon presented basically just "L'Etat c'est moi", down a level or two in the feudal structure? Except it sound like when he says "state" he means both state and nation/culture/people.

It really does seem like a slouching toward feudalism, with the fiefdoms being topical rather than geographic. Once a particular "house" owns a topic they seize control of all process levers, which gives de facto control over all policy specifics.

George Speller said...

"We are the state's representative in our constituencies"

That is a filthy perversion.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Carl: I make you right (nice to see you here, btw) :)

Anonymous said...

"".....and we should not be frightened of taking decisions on behalf of our constituents, because that is to the general good."" (Barron MP)

Key phrase here? "The general good"

The GENERAL good. What springs to mind which is for the GENERAL good? Clean water? The Clean Air Acts? Driving on the left? Many more will occur, but in all cases the correction of serious problems which apply GENERALLY. It is the drift of this excellent principle away from the GENERAL good into areas of epidemiological constructs which is causing a lot of our problems.

Woodsy42 said...

"We are the state's representative in our constituencies"
What a nausiating example, even by political standards. He is no such thing!

Anonymous said...

I am popping this idea around the sites that I frequent. I am sorry if this post is not 'on topic'.

On 29th May 2011, the Independent published a blatant, propaganda attack on Tobacco Companies. I must say immediately that I have no personal involvement with Tobacco Companies whatsoever other than buying cigarettes.
In the article, it was stated that a study by the Office of National Stats shows that more people are going to pubs. In fact, the study shows nothing of the sort. It shows only that, of the people surveyed, some said that they THINK THAT they go to pubs more often. Also, the same survey showed that women especially feel inclined to go to pubs less, as a result of the smoking ban. It is very obvious, therefore, that the findings of this survey in no way justify the claim that more people are going to pubs, which is what Tobacco Control claimed. In any case, pub closures affect the people in the immediate neighbourhood of that pub. Even if it were true that more pubs are opening than are closing, it does not mean that the opportunities for people to meet together are not, in a large part of our country, being decimated by Tobacco Control. On this basis, I have complained to the Press Commission about the misuse of the Office of Nat Stats statistics in this article published by the Independent. I claim that the Independent should ensure that the facts stated in the article are correct.

When I found out about this article (via....sorry, I do not remember), I made various comments at the Independent - albeit rather late. But what is really important is that I decided to make a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission. I have done so. I have complained about the misuse of the ONS statistics. I have complained that the Independent should check that the ONS statistics are being correctly interpreted. I have complained that the Independent has not checked the facts stated in this article (an article which is promoted by the Independent) before publication.

This thought then popped into my mind: how much more likely to succeed is a complaint to the Press Commission as compared with a comment on a newspaper article in the newspaper's comments section? I asked this question elsewhere, and someone said, " Should we not also be applying this idea to the Charities Commission (words to that effect)?"

I agree.

We must ask ourselves about the efficacy of complaints to the Press Complaints Commission and the Charities Commission. I propose that 100 complaints to those organisations are worth 10 000 comments in newspaper articles. I am therefore proposing that we make as many complaints as possible to these bodies. But, of course, the complaints must be real and genuine and factual. Do not make make complains based upon emotions (stinks, for example).

I believe (with no evidence whatsoever except gut feeling!) that organisations such as the Press Complaints Commission and the Charities Commission are the Achilles Heel of Tobacco Control and Alcohol Concern and other such special interest groups. Complaints to MPs and to Newspapers do not instigate a process, whereas complaints to commissions do. One could also complain to the Health and Safety Executive, it you can figure out how to do it.

There are thousands of us. If we all complain to the appropriate COMMISSION, sensibly, about what ASH et al are causing to be published, then 'the authorities' will be forced to take note. We must complain as often as possible and upon every subject where 'freedom' is being eroded.

I commend this idea to everyone.

As I said, I am going to spread this idea around. I hope that people do not mind. I hope that it bears fruit.

Anonymous said...

Why the surprise over Barron? He was, and still is, a Scargillite. He's always talked through his arse. In his reply to Nuttall's 10 min. rule bill on amendments he rambled on about some Turkish survey and cot death, as if that had anything to do with pubs.

Unfortunately, the good people of Rother Valley keep voting him in so we have to put up with him.

Curmudgeon said...

The good people of Rother Valley would probably vote for a scabby dog if it wore a red rosette. Oh, hang on, that would be a vast improvement ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hey! lay off the scabby dogs!

Anonymous said...

The alcohol industry will also have to cope with the imminent explosion in home brewing and wine making. Reasonable wine can be made from a kit for £1.30 a bottle. Everyone has his tipping point. Mine is when I can't buy a bottle of table wine for less than £4. Before anyone comments, there are several quite acceptable bottles available. For example, the Lidl £3.49 Valdepenas.

Single Acts of Tyranny said...

Crypto fascists look to bankrupt the other guy so no-one can hear him speak, it's less obvious but equally vile.

Sam Duncan said...

If I were running a tobacco firm, I'd seriously consider abandoning markets with anti-tobacco governments. Ah, but what about shareholder value? Yes, and what about the uproar caused by millions of people no longer able to buy their fags? And the panic among states no longer hauling in billions in duty revenue?

It's time to show these totalitarian* fuckers what side their bread's buttered.

*And if “We are the state's representative in our constituencies” isn't totalitarian, what is?

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests XX

WHAT is a "vested interest"? In theory this could be argued to mean, that NO ONE who drinks as much as the odd sherry, and smokes a small cigar at New year, can have any say in this, OR the coming, muslim appeasing to sell Saudi that many more Harriers, or Tornados, or whatever, drinks ban.