Monday 19 November 2012

Plain Packs Campaign And DoH, Sitting In A Tree ...


Here we go again, pointing out how the plain packaging campaign is being, well, shall we say disingenuous?

We've already seen how they rigged the consultation by choosing anti-smokers to evaluate the results. They also rigged the consultation by only using evidence from the very same people who are campaigning for plain packaging, and again by excluding government departments who - despite having a very clear interest - might not give the 'correct' responses.

And, as if that wasn't enough, the Department of Health also shovelled half a million quid of your taxes to Smokefree South West to help them with their campaign, commonly termed 'government lobbying government' ... because that is precisely what it is.

It makes you wonder if these people cheat at cards too.

The latest addition to the long list of dodgy tactics employed by the plain packs campaign is revealed by Simon Clark today, detailing how Stephen Williams and his chums in the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health have been deliberately misleading MPs (otherwise known as doing a Lord Darzi).
[...] it's the incident recorded in the first letter (subsequently released under FOI) that has led to charges of petition "rigging" and "cheating".
Just so we don't get off on the wrong foot, it is the plain packaging campaign accusing others of 'rigging' and 'cheating' here. No, really! Stop laughing.
And the source of those accusations? Why, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health, administered by ASH and chaired by our old friend Stephen Williams MP who helped launch the Plain Packs Protect campaign. 
The APPG disseminates 'information' via a quarterly bulletin that is distributed, I believe, to every MP. The latest issue features a number of items about plain packaging with headlines such as 'Plain packs: not plain, just honest' and 'How the tobacco industry uses packaging to hook new smokers'. 
But the headline that really caught our eye was the one that screams, 'FOI request shows industry campaigners rigging plain packs petition'.
Indeed it does. A fellow jewel robber in or around the SW1 bubble sent it to me a while back, and it looks a lot like this.

As Simon goes on to explain, a letter answering the concerns raised in that FOI was sent at the end of August and I'm pretty sure that the APPG will have been very much aware of it.

It seems to me to have been quite a gamble for them, then, to boldly give MPs such a categorical - and deliberately misleading - headline as that. I mean, imagine if Simon's response was published before the government announced the results of the consultation, eh? It would make them look pretty corrupt.

However, via Nannying Tyrants, it would appear that if it was a gamble, they had already nobbled the bookie too!
What, exactly, is the DH hiding by not releasing the disclosure log for September 2012? Is there something in September's releases that damages the plain packs supporters?
Well, yes. That would be the thus far unpublished letter from Simon Clark which would turn the APPG's headline from a snippet of information into opportunistic mendacity.

So we have the plain packs campaign rigging just about everything they can lay their hands on; using government cash to lobby government; and spreading falsehoods to parliament. Meanwhile, the Department of Health - which still publicly claims to be impartial on plain packaging - is doing its bit by holding back information which could be used against those in favour.

It's all very cosy, isn't it? Though how they can still call it a "public" consultation is anyone's guess.


Jay said...

Thank heavens for jewel robbers! I will update my blog post again to link to here. I think it may be time to insist that Stephen Williams MP step down as chair of the APPG. He is patently deceiving members of Parliament, and this should not stand!

Gewyne said...

The sad thing is that none of this matters - we know that plain packs will come in, we know that even though this is a great blog that - it and others with similar ideas are basically just preaching to the choir - no one else seems to care, we are just walking into a world where most people want to be spoon fed by a government approved nurse, with their government approved generic green soylent goo that contains all the nutrients you need - trust us.... would we lie to you ?

Lysistrata Eleftheria said...

The wider implications of their getting away with this sort of deceipt and false consultation, backed up by 'Govt lobbying Govt', are very serious indeed.

This is 'policy-led evidence' showing its worst and most corrupt face. Let them get away with this, and they'll get away with everything.

For me, smoking is the first bridge (or trench) to hold. Someone better than me said that very recently. If I could remember who, I'd honour them.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

As I mentioned above, they've misled parliament before with Darzi, and they'll do so in the future. It's their MO. All we can do is make sure everyone knows about it.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Yes, but at least there are now many cataloguing the abuse of process and democracy. Word is getting out, in every area of state influence, that MPs and civil servants are not acting in our interests anymore. Election turnout figures prove conclusively that they are running out of options - one day they will have to change tack and actually listen to the people who pay for them.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Very well said. Couldn't agree more.

Jay said...

I get that cynicism completely, because I too feel it every day -- I see so many things that I don't even have time process it all, let alone comment or write about it. But I also know it's only going to matter if the people who read the blogs help make it matter. Yes, we know the bastards are corrupt motherfuckers from hell, and we humble bloggers are merely the communicators to the rest of you -- the advertisements or bills plastered to the wall you pass by and half-see each day. Our job is to both inspire and anger all of you. You guys, the ones who read this stuff, you're the ones who truly matter and it's up to you whether you finally take action.

Barbara Ann de Ath said...

I agree with you, but what final action do you think could be taken ? Kind regards Barbara

Jay said...

OK. How do I answer that? Truth is, I don't think I can. Well, not a proper answer, but I'll tell you what I think anyway.

First, there is no final action that can be taken. It's all a matter of degrees -- baby steps towards ending the grip of the evil Public Health religion on our culture.

Second, you need to take whatever action you think is best for you. I could give suggestions, like writing to your MP, or protesting, (lawsuits, if one is so inclined and has the resources), or launching a tactical nuke at the WHO headquarters... you know, stuff like that. Maybe the protesting thing is a bit too much?

In all honesty, if I had the answers, I would be acting on them. I don't know what is the best course of action. I know what result I want, but getting to that result ... well, I just don't know. It's going to be thousands of actions performed by thousands of people to even begin to shift attitudes back towards rationality. We have our work cut out for us.

Or we could just hope for WWIII, because when bombs are being dropped on you, nobody is going to care about enforcing smoking bans or what your packet of fags look like. Not that I want a war to happen... I don't, but it would put thigs into perspective for the decision makers...

Barbara Ann de Ath said...

Hi Jay Thank you for answering. I can't think of anything either I was hoping you could.
I think the trouble started when the government decided that
they were going to make the NHS proactive and not reactive, they said that because they felt prevention would save money. In other words if we all stopped smoking, drinking, ate our five a day we could render the NHS unnecessary and
save billions. So they did what they usually do when these bad ideas come up,they didn’t think it through or debate it they just throw a few billion at it, which should make the plebs conform, put out a tender for one of their mates who
is head of a charity or some such organization to get the job of nudging us into doing what we are told. So that’s how the likes of ASH etc get funding. Given the latest news on the NHS they will soon realise that their mates are making no difference at all and they are not able to close hospitals after all. So they will take the money back from them to give back to the cash strapped health authorities. So without their funding TC should with any luck shut up and leave us alone. Kind regards Barbara