Monday 24 April 2017

A Question Of Lobbying

I see that ASH have been banging on about the Tobacco Control Plan again ... or Lib Dem Norman Lamb has anyway.

Maybe it's because he's the illiberal undemocratic party's spokesman for health matters which has got them so excited, I dunno, because a parliamentary question about this is hardly unusual. ASH should know, because they have ordered a lot of them like most of us would order a stuffed crust pepperoni with extra cheese.

There have been literally been dozens of PQs on the subject, and we cannot be absolutely certain how many have resulted from Debs Arnott whispering in MPs' ears with her 'access all areas' Westminster pass, but we can be pretty sure that those in the APPG she secretaries will have had a nudge.

For example, Lord Young (a member of ASH's APPG) asked a question in the Lords in July last year.

Another of Arnott's poodles, Bob Blackman, also asked a question on the same subject in July, along with another in November and another in December. He seems especially keen so I'm sure earned a nice pat on the head and gold star from Debs, especially since he also managed to crowbar the subject into Health Questions to Nicola Blackwood in November too.

Fellow ASH APPG member Andrew Murrison took up the cudgels in the new year, enthusiastically asking a PQ on the 11th January and then another just 6 days later.

Scroll onto October and Alex Cunningham, a Labour MP so consumed with anti-smoker rhetoric (therefore an ASH APPG member, natch) that constituents on the Channel 4 show Benefits Street said they'd never even seen him in their road before, was tabling a Westminster Hall debate about the tobacco control plan. He has since asked another PQ last month about, you guessed it, the tobacco control plan.

There is only one reason for all this activity, of course, and it's to put pressure on ministers at the Department of Health to re-invigorate the war on smokers to give ASH something to do with the money they have been sponging off the taxpayer since 1972. And also to give them a sign of what they don't need to campaign on with that cash because the Department will be doing it anyway.

It is classic government lobbying government.

The circular flow of income is simple to track. The DoH gives ASH money; they use it for salaries to secretary their APPG and to spend their days suggesting MPs lobby the government; ministers cave in, announce more anti-smoking measures; ASH dance a merry jig and put out their begging bowl to ask for more cash to deliver the measures it has demanded of the state.

A written question about the tobacco control plan? ASH have written loads of them already!

In these times of huge deficit spending, there is no point whatsoever wasting cash on such a self-serving charade. Precious few care much about smokers or smoking anymore, and the ones who do are the type who should be locked in the attic with a mad uncle and ignored for the good of society.

If the post-election government is looking for an easy win to help the country's finances and get a rancid monkey off their back, it's a no-brainer that they should de-fund ASH and associated parasites satellites, close down its APPG and consign the whole stinking shitpit to history like Smokefree South West and Smokefree North West before it.

If ASH want to continue getting dullard MPs to ask questions they have suggested, that's fine, just get the cash to do so from somewhere which doesn't involve rifling our pockets. 

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