Sunday 7 October 2012

Allowing Debate Is Wrong, Says 'Liberal'

Sometimes, comedy gold just leaps out of the ether and makes you wonder if someone is on a wind up.

There's no other way of describing this odd diatribe from a random Twitter guy, generously brought to my attention by Simon Cooke.
My letter to @guardian on their decision to accept lobbying ads form the tobacco industry: 
Dear Sirs 
I have been a keen subscriber to your iPad app for a while now, so I was most perturbed to see an ad for the tobacco lobby in the last few editions of The Guardian on iPad.
Colour me unsurprised at the intro.
The ad purports to be against plain packaging of cigarettes on the basis that it will assist organised crime and lead to further evasion of duty which will cost the UK taxpayer money. It gives no explanation as to how or why this will be the case, of course.
The bloke obviously has his ear to the ground Guardian-wise. Sadly, he seems to have entirely missed anything published anywhere else. Had he done his research, before firing off a self-satisfying pile of bollocks (and sharing it on Twitter), he might have noticed some well qualified people offering exactly the explanations he is too limited - or uninterested - to find for himself.

He might also - if he had taken time get off the right-on hobby horse - been able to see that there is no evidence in favour except that which has been rigged in advance. Y'see, we're all still waiting for a proper explanation of how plain packs is going to help when even the idea's biggest booster say kids barely notice the packets, which is - we are told - the precise reason for all this pointless dick-waggling.
Its true however, that the tobacco lobby is concerned about loss of revenue - their own. Despite assertions to the contrary by the industry, they are opposed to plain packaging because it impacts their ability to differentiate their product and hence affects marketing which in turn affects profits.
See, I love people like this as they do us a massive favour. There the tobacco control industry are trying to pump some fantasy line that plain packs are designed to stop kids from starting to smoke, and then someone like this blunders into a debate - of which he obviously has no clue whatsoever - to reveal the prime justification behind it. Which we kinda knew anyway.

The simple fact is that - however many 'ambassadors' are sent to schmooze MPs - this is solely about arrogant tobacco-haters doing all they can to destroy a legal business. Many of which are red in tooth and claw and really don't give a stuff about health, instead preferring the ideological undergrad bashing of corporations which they should have grown out of by now.

The children have nothing to do with it, nor does it have anything to do with health. Just pure envy, jealousy and prejudice.
The sheer gall of the tobacco industry to suggest that they are concerned about the loss to the UK Exchequer in duty when the products they sell cause illness and death on such a grand scale which the taxpayer pays for via the NHS is eclipsed only by the rank hypocrisy of The Guardian in accepting such an ad.
The tobacco industry will quite obviously be as worried about the loss of duties for the same reasons as the Treasury. If duties aren't being paid, it's because tobacco is being bought from criminals who don't pay it rather than an industry which does. Criminals, as it should not require explaining, who care little for state controls on who they sell it to. Surely even a committed statist should recognise that kind of threat and consider it worrisome. After all, what's the point of state control if it isn't to regulate markets?

As for the cost to the NHS argument, anti-smoking organisation ASH make him entirely wrong.
Tobacco tax more than pays for NHS health costs associated with smoking.
And this well before governments caught on that hanging onto the coat tails of blinkered fruitcakes was a way of levying charges which could free them from the shackles of that inconvenient Laffer Curve.

Perhaps this guy has an agenda we should be looking at. He reads the Guardian, we know that much, but he can't be the comically hackneyed Islington rich boy who hasn't grown out of teenage socialist farty politics, surely?

Oh yes, he can.
Be-wigged defence Counsel, working in the City of London in criminal law
Tweeting from ... wait for it ... a North London location in the shadow of Islington. Seriously, you couldn't make it  up.

There is more here if you're interested, but I think the real justification for his anger is contained in this tweet.

All very confusing considering he is someone who should very much understand the concept of minority rights being respected in a democracy, no matter the bigotry lined up against them.


Jay said...

Never ceases to amuse how these people justify their bigotry against one group of people while denouncing bigotry against another. Tell me again how that works, please...?

ivandenisovich said...

Brent is half Australian and was born there so that could account for his authoritarian streak when it comes to tobacco. Perhaps it is in the genes?

I find it hard to understand why bigots continue to cite cost to the NHS as a negative impact of tobacco smoking when some basic research quickly shows just how fallacious their argument is. This guy has a degree or two and has practiced law for heavens sake!

Perhaps there is a nature nurture thing going on here and some form of innate bigotry has surfaced only as a result of excessive exposure to the Guardian, which has also had a negative impact on his ability to reason and present coherent arguments.

Anonymous said...


Surely the telling point is he "has practiced law" and is therefore well practiced in the art of obfuscation, presenting only one side of an arguement (usually in an over-dramatised and often downright false manner) and, of course, hypocrisy.

The thing that always amuses me is that those most vehement on any subject are always those who have the least applicable knowledge on that very subject (it makes you wonder about his legal ability since concepts such as facts, evidence, etc. seemed to be beyond him).

Stuart H. said...

Newbie. Only admitted to E&W Law Society 1/2/12.
Claims his areas of law are advocacy,civil liberties & human rights, criminal law & fraud, funnily enough.

JonathanBagley said...

He is surely aware that the ban covers smoking in private clubs staffed by volunteer members.

ivandenisovich said...

Probably not Jonathan. He does make a partially valid point in his tweet above but fails to acknowledge that he is forcing everyone to conform to his preferences by insisting that smokers have no rights and implying that everywhere should therefore be "smokefree". As a non-smoker I prefer the choice offered in places like Germany over the sterile authoritarian approach we have taken here in the UK.

keddaw said...

There is an argument to be made for banning smoking in confined places - it damages clothing and causes a stink on clothes and hair.

In that case you have the option of banning it or having lots of small civil suits to claim for dry cleaning and 'personal harm'. I'm not saying it's a terribly strong case, but it's there to be made.