Wednesday 9 May 2012

ASH And The Monsters In The Wardrobe

Hi, tobacco stooges!

Well, some of you have submitted objections to tobacco control consultations, so you're obviously a tobacco industry front group according to ASH.

Written while Debs, Martin and the gang cowered beneath their desks in tinfoil hats and turquoise shell suits debating whether to include lizards under the North Pole as being part of the Big Tobacco conspiracy, their latest report makes hilarious reading.

I was planning on having some fun with it but Snowdon has stolen my thunder somewhat, not surprising when handed such an unexpectedly simple target. Do go read his chucklesome rundown on how your taxes are being wasted on barmy conspiracy theorists during a recession.

I'll just add one laugh out loud 'proof' of tobacco interference not yet covered elsewhere.
[...] the House of Commons Pipe and Cigar Smokers Club, previously described in the view of another MP as “a front for the Tobacco Manufacturers Association”.52
And who is that fine, upstanding, untainted authority on such matters in our House of Fools Commons? The scrupulous and highly impartial Kevin Barron, MP for Rother Valley, no less.
Mr. Barron: I remind my hon. Friend that the Lords and Commons pipe and cigar smokers club is not an all-party group. [Hon. Members: ``It is!''] It is not; it is denied to most hon. Members. It is a front for the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association, set up to influence legislators.
Did he offer any proof to back up this assertion? Did he bollocks!

And who - as if regular readers didn't know - is Kevin Barron? Well, he is a bessie mate of ASH's Debs Arnott, wheeled out to deliver anti-smoking propaganda when ordered, who thinks the public should have nothing to do with democracy.

He's also someone who is the very last person to be quoted in a document about 'front groups'. Snowdon describes a similar all party group thus.
There is some heavy irony here. Not only is ASH (and Smokefree SouthWest and D-MYST and so on) an astro-turf group for the Department of Health, but the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health is itself a front group for ASH. It was formed in 1976 by ASH's then director David Simpson as a way of briefing politicians and persuading MPs to raise Early Day Motions and Private Member's Bills. It was originally known—more accurately—as the All Party Parliamentary Group on Action on Smoking and Health, but they later dropped the 'Action on', presumably to make it look a bit less like the mouthpiece of a special interest group. ASH continues to provide all briefing materials and pays for all expenses. The group's secretariat is Deborah Arnott, the current director of ASH.
This 'front group' for ASH just happens to have a certain Kevin Barron MP as one of its Vice Chairs.

Funny that ASH were so coy about such a compromised source of 'opinion', doncha think? Still, we shouldn't knock them too much for it, the lack of rigour can doubtless be put down to their panicking about the upcoming end of the world.


ivandenisovich said...

It is perhaps unsurprising that Kevin Barron is an autocratic zealot. He is a mate of Arthur Scargill and was effectively granted one of the safest Labour seats in the country as a consequence. Barron would no doubt welcome a resurgence of the very far left and has no problem supporting state intervention in virtually every aspect of our lives. He also championed minimum pricing for alcohol.  

Stephen Williams on the other hand is a bit of a disappointment. As a member of a party with Liberal in its title and as the first openly gay MP to represent that party, we might have hoped that Williams would champion liberal attitudes. Sadly, he is of course a “fake” liberal who came into the party via the SDP and he is therefore quite comfortable with forcing lifestyle changes on people “for their own good”.

Of the two, I prefer Barron on the grounds that at least he makes it clear that he is authoritarian. 

Clarissa said...

How about us shareholders who profit from Big Tobacco? Are we front groups or evil incarnate? If the later, could BATS hurry up with their next dividend as I need to obtain a white cat and get cracking on my moon base.