Thursday 16 June 2011

Righteously Hogging The Microphone

Not satisfied with creating perverted 'studies' and fabricating statistics to hoodwink government into passing illiberal laws, the UK tobacco control glitterati recently descended on the Red Tape Challenge website to shout down any public opinion on the vending machine ban.

Listed to the left of the section on 'Wider Hospitality' are laws about which comments are invited, one of them being The Protection from Tobacco (Sales from Vending Machines) (England) Regulations 2010. It's certainly spooked the anti-tobacco community following, presumably, a rabble-rousing exercise as - from page 2 of the comments onward - they dutifully file in and post remarkably similar (sometimes word for word) pleas to follow through with the legislation.

You'll recognise many of the names as we discuss them here quite regularly. Alan 'Libertarian' Maryon-Davies, Anna 'Anything for a buck' Gilmore, Smokefree North East's Ailsa Rutter, ASH Scotland's miserabilist-in-chief Sheila Duffy, and bansturbatory all-rounder Vivienne 'Denormalise alcohol' Nathanson, to name but a few.

I thought this was supposed to be an exercise in ascertaining the views of the public at large, not public sector and fake charity mouthpieces.

It seems that they aren't satisfied with having the ear of MPs 24/7 - they also insist on gate-crashing initiatives aimed at those of us who don't usually get a say.

Put mildly, these people are astoundingly repugnant, belly-crawling, self-important, finger-wagging, dictatorial, bottom-feeding, manipulative, foul, integrity-free, mouth-breathing bastards.


Smoking Hot said...

Just returned from Greece where democracy is alive and well. lf they have a smoking ban l didn't see it! Every bar and restaurant l went in you could smoke. ln the interests of research l went in a lot of bars :)

Anonymous said...

I have just had a look at that Red Tape Site. I was very confused because I could not find a way to comment about vending machines. The reason seems to be that comments are closed.

As far as I can see, comments were open from May 17th to June 2nd. The vast majority of comments are from ASH et al, demanding that the Gov go through with the regs re cig vending machines. But the whole point of the site is to CUT regulations, isn't it? So what were they doing flooding the site with demands for MORE regulations?

I don't know how many people knew about this site - I certainly didn't. Clearly, ASH new that this was not a frequented site, and that they could flood it.

Very clever, but despicable - which word sums them up beautifully, doesn't it?

On the other hand, Duffy really got a slating in the Scotsman Evening News re the pub smoking ban. Did she forget to put the word out?

I wonder what brought that site to your attention, DP?

Dick Puddlecote said...

"But the whole point of the site is to CUT regulations, isn't it?

Got it in one, Junican.

So what were they doing flooding the site with demands for MORE regulations?"

Being unutterable cunts, as is their raison d'etre.

Anonymous said...

I read in the paper recently that anon are carrying out dastardly attacks on websites - and they are even petitioning people to nominate their targets!

I'd hate Red Tape to end up on it.

Let me get this straight. We have Government wonks telling us that we can dismiss other Government wonks, but it will never happen. So we end up with more Government wonks, and if we have the temerity to complain, more Government fucking wonks will get involved and yet still nothing will fucking happen.

Then some wonk will tell us that this has been a clear and transparent process, and about 100 other things the lickspittle pulls out from his bullshit machine.

And they'll continue to hit their KPIs and draw a nice salary, micromanaging the general public.

nisakiman said...

@ Smoking Hot.

That's why I live here mate.

The Greeks have a healthy suspicion of anything that smells of authoritarianism. Did you notice also the number of people on motorbikes not wearing helmets? Or the number of car drivers not wearing seat-belts?

The approach here is "Yes, got no problem with laws concerning 'thou shalt not steal' etc, but what the fuck business is it of yours where and when I smoke? And you can stick your crash helmets where the sun don't shine too..."

Anonymous said...

I have complained to the 'Red Tape' Site people. I will copy it to here, if DP does not mind. If others want to do likewise, the email address to complain from FAQs) is:

Here is my complaint:

""How do you do.

A friend drew my attention to your site, and specifically the topic concerning 'cigarette vending machines'. I have just been there and find that the topic is, presumably, closed for comments (although I could not see any words to that effect). However, while I was there, I read the comments through. I was appalled!

I had two reasons for being appalled:

1. The vast majority of comments were demanding that the 'vending machine regulations' are applied without change. Forgive me if I am wrong, but is it not true that the whole purpose of the Site is to REDUCE regulations and not to INCREASE them?

2. Almost all the comments make the same demand in almost exactly the same terms. There is something extremely fishy about the way in which your site has been flooded by comments nearly all, apparently, emitting from the same source. It looks very much as though these activities have been coordinated, and that the commenters knew in advance that this topic would be arising and probably knew that few people are commenting on your Site.

How can you expect to get the view of a reasonable cross section of the population if this is so?

Further, I would have thought that organisations with 'interests' ought not to be using this site to push there special interests. But I noticed that there are several people commenting who are senior people in the organisation known as ASH (Action on Smoking and Health). Is this a proper use of the Site?

Finally, I would like to make a couple of suggestions:

1. Re-open the topic "Wider Hospitality", and particularly 'cigarette vending machines'.

2. Indicate well in advance what the next subjects to be brought to our attention will be. For example, I note that the particular topic at the moment is 'Equalities'. Can you not tell us now what the next subject will be?""

I could suggest that anyone else who complains could make the point that Anon 21.44 makes. That is that a GROUP OF people who are, at least partially, funded by the Gov are using this Site, by the pretence of commenting as individuals, to flood the Site with pro-ban propaganda. It is propaganda precisely because the comments are NOT concerned with the reduction of regulations.

Can anybody be bothered? I have made two complaints to the Press Complaint commission in the last fortnight. One re the Independent article by Dugan about 'people visiting pubs' and the other re the article by Duffy in the Scotsman Evening News re 'why the ban must stay'. I do not expect 'a result', but complaining to the Press Commission can certainly do no harm (I ensure that my complaint is about a statement in the article of FACT). It is a way of using national organisations with clout against these despicable people. It does not matter if any specific complaint fails. To paraphrase the IRA saying, "You have to get lucky every time. I have to get lucky only once".

Sorry to go on, DP.

Mr A said...

"Put mildly, these people are astoundingly repugnant, belly-crawling, self-important, finger-wagging, dictatorial, bottom-feeding, manipulative, foul, integrity-free, mouth-breathing bastards."

Hmmm, I think I tend to agree..... ;)

Mr A said...

Also, isn't what they are doing "lobbying" which is clearly against the Charity Commission rules? If not, then what is what they are doing called?

If not that, there must be some law or regulation against a State-funded company abusing a consultation process. I mean, just imagine it. You're unfortunate enough to work for ASH. But hey, you're on £50 an hour so you put up with it. Then you get an emailed memo, as does everyone in your office, saying, "Visit this link and post comments against it." I mean, it's just wrong! These are paid employees doing this in work time! Surely, there is something these unutterable bastards can be done for?

Anonymous said...

Article 13

12. Retail sale and display.

Display of tobacco products at point of sale in itself constitutes advertising and promotion.

13.To ensure that points of sale of tobacco products do not have any promotional elements. Parties should introduce a total ban on any display and on the visibility of tobacco products at points of sale, including fixed retail outlets and street vendors.
Only textual listing of products and their prices, without any promotional elements, would be allowed.
As for all aspects of Article 13 of the convention, the ban should apply in ferries, airplanes,ports and airports.

14. Vending machines should be banned because they constute by their very presence a means of advertising or promotion under the terms of the Convention.

16. Plain packaging.

It's a pointless and time wasting practice for members of ASH to pretend to be private individuals supporting policy, or politicians attempting to mislead the public into believing that these new measures are their own considered invention.

Snowman said...

Fuck, what a depressing site. Strangely reminiscent of the 'Your Freedom' farce, yet even more jumbled and pointless.

And we're paying for the fucking thing.

Anonymous said...

Well, The Red Tape site responded immediately. Here is the reply:

""The purpose of the site is to gather views on which regulations are not working and should be scrapped, simplified or merged and which regulations are already working well. All interested parties are encouraged to comment and all ideas will be considered.

Whilst we will not be re-opening the hospitality, food and drink theme on the website if your view has not been expressed by others on the site you can send comments through to us via this email address.

The list of upcoming themes is available on the homepage of the website and is reproduced below:""

I have not reproduced the rest of the reply, which lists upcoming topics.

NB. Dicks link takes you direct to the 'current topic' page. There seems to be no tab that takes you to the 'Home' page. The 'Home' page has the list of topics. The URL for the home page is:

The reply does not surprise me one bit. One could hardly expect, "Oooh! You are so right! We will report it to the Health Dept immediately". The important thing is to pester them.