Tuesday 21 October 2014

Mascot Watch #30: Questions A Tory Minister Can't Answer

Our esteemed blog mascot/knight has been ruffling feathers again.
Philip Davies (Shipley) took aim at Public Health Minister Jane Ellison in the Commons as he railed against plans to introduce cigarette plain packaging, stop smoking in cars where children are present and alcohol taxes. 
Tory backbencher Mr Davies told Ms Ellison: "You are pursuing a long list of nanny state proposals which we might have better expected from (Labour), including plain packaging of tobacco, outlawing parents smoking in cars and having higher taxes on alcohol. 
"Could you give us a list of which policies, if any, you're pursuing which have a Conservative flavour to them?"
Predictably, Jane didn't answer the question.
Ms Ellison replied: "Well, following on from (Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt's) previous answer, tobacco control is an integral part of tackling cancer in our country and I'm delighted to let the House know that smoking prevalence among adults in England fell to 18.4% in 2013. 
"This is a record low which means that the Government has hit its tobacco control plan target for 2015 two years early. 
"I'm sure even you would welcome that news."
No, Jane, our Phil was asking if you have any policies which could remotely be described as 'Conservative'.

These generally involve respecting freedom of choice, not crushing it; educating personal responsibility, not dismissing it; condemning coercion, not partaking in it; reducing taxation, not increasing it; and lessening bureaucracy, not encouraging it.

I might add that Jane's party also used to not be too happy about handing taxpayer cash to unaccountable groups with which to lobby government; acting on half-baked policies for which there is no evidence whatsoever of efficacy; counting liars amongst their parliamentary party; and the claiming of credit for something which had diddley squat to do with their un-Conservative policies.

OK, forget that last one, every politician likes to pretend they had a hand in events that occurred naturally, it's just how they roll. Silly me.

So, Jane, I have another question. Why do you think it is that voters are abandoning the lying, deceitful, question-avoiding, principle-abandoning, old parties en masse? Take your time, I left you some clues above.


nisakiman said...

Ms Ellison replied: "Well, following on from (Health Secretary Jeremy
Hunt's) previous answer, tobacco control is an integral part of tackling
in our country and I'm delighted to let the House know that
smoking prevalence among adults in England fell to 18.4% in 2013.

So Ms Ellison is 'delighted' that Tobacco Control have persecuted, stigmatised and taxed people to the extent that only 18.4% (a figure I would dispute) can be bothered to pursue their pleasures in the face of the onslaught from 'Public Health' and their hangers-on. Did she by any chance say what the prevalence of lung cancer is these days, now that they have forced so many smokers to quit? It must be dramatically lower now that there are so few smokers, wouldn't you think? I have to admit I haven't noticed any headlines shouting about how the success of the anti-smoking campaigns has resulted in a dramatic fall in LC and heart attacks. Maybe I missed them?

theprog said...

Your right about the 18.4%. 15- 20 years ago few would deny that they smoked. Even the dumbest down masses are now starting to twig that official/medical knowledge of their smoking is not used in their best interests. One tragedy that has emerged during the same period is that we can no longer place total trust in the NHS to adhere to its original mission statement.

JonathanBagley said...

Isn't the last official figure 19 point something?

nisakiman said...

I've mentioned in various comments a few times that I live in a popular holiday destination for Brits; somewhere where there is zero social stigma attached to smoking and where smoking bans, although law under EU rulings, are almost universally ignored. So I see a lot of Brits who when here are free of the hectoring that is the norm in the UK, and being thoroughly relaxed in the bars and restaurants.

As a very unscientific but probably reasonably accurate estimate based on personal observation, I would say that about 50 - 60% of the Brits I see are smokers. The majority are C1, C2 and D, and it has to be said that when I'm in other more upmarket areas frequented by A and B, my observed estimates are much lower, perhaps even as low as 10%. However, even taking that into account, given the demographics of the UK, where C1, C2 and D make up the majority of the indigenous population, that would still give us a conservative figure of 30 - 40% smoking prevalence.

I think, as Prog points out, that a large number of smokers will not admit to being smokers when asked, both because many have been made to feel that it is something to be ashamed of (have you stopped beating your wife..?) and also for the reasons that Prog mentions. Increased insurance premiums, discrimination from the NHS, discrimination from housing associations and discrimination from potential employees to mention just a few. Who in their right mind would admit to being a smoker knowing that it loads the dice so much against you?

And of course, 'Officials' have no way of knowing what the real smoking prevalence figures are, because apart from asking people the only way they can calculate is from sales figures. And who knows just how much black-market tobacco gets sold in UK? They can guess, but you can be sure that their inflated sense of omnipotence will ensure that they grossly underestimate the amount sold 'under the counter'.

nisakiman said...

I just Googled it, and AB represents 22.17% of the UK population.

Frank J said...

A while ago, I think 2010/11, it was claimed 'officially' that the rate was 21%. For the same period, Eurostats had it at 28%. Further, Sainsbury's Life ins., for actuarial purposes, quoted an 8% figure for those who didn't disclose it. Ergo, a total of 36% for (I think, again) 2010/11.

As I've said many times, given the number of people who try to cadge fags off me (all non smokers of course) it's a bloody site higher. I'd believe the moon is made of green cheese before I believe Ellison's DoH gunge.

truckerlyn said...

Very true, however, smoking rates had been declining quite effectively on their own in the 3 decades prior to the ban, it was only after the ban that this slowed down!

As for the fall in the number of adults smoking, I wonder how many are due to the Stop Smoking 'clinics' run by fanatics who seem to believe that if someone is smoke free for 28 days then they have quit for good? It does look good on their 'tick' column and no doubt does contribute to the apparent reduction in adults smoking!

I also agree with theprog, that these days many adults deny they are smokers, probably because they do not want the lecture they expect to receive!

It is also very probable that what JonathanBagley says is true.

So, hey, let them ban ecigs and then we can see their response when smoking rates escalate again!

As for cancer, during the decades pre-ban when smoking was declining at a good and steady rate, cancers were still rising, which to me, just proves that it is not smoking, at least not smoking alone, that is in any way the trigger to blame!

I have often asked myself, if smoking is declining but cancers are increasing, what else is increasing that could be a contributory factor? The first thing that comes to mind is, of course, vehicles. No matter what filters, catalytic converters, etc the manufacturers put in the vehicles these days, the fact that there are that many more on our roads could well mean that the levels of toxic and carcinogenic output are no lower than pre-filters, etc and are probably still higher!

A final point to consider too, is that rates of asthma have been and still are on the increase - yet smoking is in decline, although more so pre-ban than now.

truckerlyn said...

And don't forget the perfectly legal cigs brought back from other EU countries. We haven't bought cigs in the UK for years!

truckerlyn said...

Here, here! Mind you, I tend to take anything and everything the government say with a very large pinch of salt and conclude not to believe anything, mainly on the basis that almost none of them would have a clue what the truth is, even if it smacked them squarely in the face!

theprog said...

I don't think it's 28 days, I thought 14 days with the first fortnight gradually cutting down. Whatever, over c.95% of clients are back on the fags by month 12 and 98%+ of all attempts fail long term - not least because they've been led to believe that quitting is one of the most difficult things they'll ever attempt. The period of steady, measurable decline had more to do with willpower than NRT. And clearly nothing to do with draconian legislation.

truckerlyn said...

Whatever the number of days, the whole thing is one ENORMOUS CON! They have to keep it going in order to continue funding one of their benefactors - the Pharmaceutical industry!

I totally agree that the steady decline pre-ban was ALL to do with willpower and people actually wanting to give up for their own reasons, not because they are being bullied by an ineffective government who try to prove their worth by dictating to the people they should be serving and whose opinions they should be listening to!