Friday, 30 May 2014

Message From A Liberal, Tolerant Guy

Bucks Herald deputy editor Adam King is a nice fella, apparently.
I consider myself a liberal, tolerant guy ...
Aww, that's nice.
Bucks County Council, which now has responsibility for public health, should work alongside the district council to introduce a town centre smoking ban during big public events, on the grounds of protecting and promoting its residents’ wellbeing.
Oh, but what about our human rights, I hear the smoking lobby bleat. ‘We’re a minority too!’
My answer is simple. 
Unlike race, gender or sexuality, smoking is a choice – and one which not only harms their health but those around them. 
Until we have a situation where not one person is subjected to passive smoking, their ‘persecution’ must continue unabated.
These self-professed liberal types who are only liberal about things they personally like (and ignorant with it) do make me laugh. Tune in next week for his column on how he is perfectly happy to share the world with everyone who isn't Adam King, as long as we promise him the world on a stick for Christmas.

Good grief.

H/T Forest, TT

Thursday, 29 May 2014

You're The MP: Judge Plain Packaging Evidence

For a few moments, put yourselves in the shoes of a politician; an MP in fact. You are tasked with a number of policy proposals and you are relying on 'experts' to advise you.

In the past few years you have heard about this new plain packaging idea and have been told that there is a definitive evidence document called the 'systematic review'. You don't know that this was commissioned by civil servants in favour of plain packaging and therefore rigged to be written by junk scientists who are the biggest advocates for the policy.

You would have been shielded from anyone who pointed out that it was "deliberately framed" to produce the right result; created a "misleading impression" by using "questionable evidence"; didn't consider "negative impacts"; and was admitted by the Department of Health to be "biased".

I think it's fair to say that you wouldn't have been appropriately informed.

Well, one of the items of, ahem, incontestable evidence in this systematic review dealt with what the tobacco control industry like to call the salience of heath warnings. This means how much notice we take of the big ugly images that they stuck on your packet of fags. The anti-smoking tax-spongers say they've been miraculous even though there has been no observable effect on smoking prevalence ... which is why they now have to make them even bigger - because they haven't failed, oh no - and obliterate anything else you might look at instead.

Conveniently, in 2011 (a year before it was needed for the plain packs consultation) Marcus Munafò - an anti-smoking professional from Bristol - produced a study using eye-tracking tech which proved beyond doubt that plain packs is a no-brainer. Similarly, in 2012, Olivia Maynard - also an anti-smoking professional from Bristol and one of Linda Bauld's post-graduates - found the same.

Both of these studies were included in the systematic review placed in front of MPs as positive proof that they should go for plain packaging. The review leant on them heavily too, on pages 30, 54, 57, 58, 85, appendix (ii) and in the citations [pdf].

Sadly for the assembled masses of tobacco control sociologists, marketers and aircraft engineers, a proper eye-tracking expert - Dr Tim Holmes of Royal Holloway (University of London) - was pretty unimpressed with their questionable efforts on his patch, so decided to defend his discipline's integrity by doing some real research instead of policy-based advocacy.

His unpublished experiment - which disagreed with the tobacco control consensus - attracted the usual anti-smoking psychotic behaviour.
I was immediately contacted, and even harassed, for being a scientist and daring to question the efficacy of plain packaging in the war on cigarette consumption.
No surprise there, then.

He also had a few words to say about the laughable peer review process employed by the tobacco control industry.
I could have chosen to go directly to some high profile publication relating to marketing and packaging, health psychology or tobacco control, where the research would almost certainly not have been reviewed by those with any expertise in eye-movements and visual attention. And here’s the point, submitting research to peer review, when you know that the “peers” reviewing are not equipped to detect errors or omissions from the submission is, in my opinion, second only to the falsification of data, which has recently and deservedly been under the microscope thanks to some extreme cases of scientific fraud.
Did the authors of the systematic review on plain packs bother to run their brilliant evidence through the correct experts? Of course not, nothing could be further from their minds, they just fired it to their fellow anti-smokers and passed it off as gold standard. Being under the microscope is anathema to tobacco control, they resist it as much as they possibly can.

Holmes's second article on the subject discussed what he felt were flaws in the evidence produced in the systematic review, and after extensively and transparently describing his method in three and four, he delivered some conclusions.
In the meantime, it looks likely that plain packaging will probably be on the Queen's speech this week, and so I can only hope that somewhere along the way, someone picks up the points I make at the end of Part 4, that plain packaging alone is unlikely to achieve a significant boost in attention to health warnings, and any positive effects will certainly not be sustained over time.  More innovative and effective solutions to this problem are possible and I suggest some of these in my discussion, but all of that requires the science to be heard above the politics and rhetoric, and its only then the health and wellbeing of future and existing smokers will be truly addressed.
Now, remember that you're an MP. Will you be informed that evidence in the systematic review has been challenged? Of course you won't.

It's telling, though, that Dr Holmes's motivation was to accurately represent the effect of plain packaging on how smokers and non-smokers view graphic warnings, whereas the studies he criticises were conceived to promote a policy and were press released at politically advantageous times for the advocacy they believe in and are employed to further.

Put your MP hat on one more time and tell me which of the above evidence you would trust more. Then ask yourself why we suffer a system whereby real experts have to stumble across this kind of stuff while the government, of which you are a part, pays our tax receipts to fake ones who couldn't give a stuff whether the science is accurate or not.

Then, sack yourself because you should be serving the public better than that.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Berger: "We Still Won"

In the wake of the public angrily rejecting career politicians at the ballot box this week, consider this.

In 2012, the government asked us to respond to a public consultation on plain packaging. The published report showed conclusively that - despite one of the most corrupt political campaigns this country has ever witnessed - the public rejected the policy by a significant margin.

Since then, the political establishment - of all three main parties - has conspired to completely ignore that statistic.

Then, when one MP does make a stand and sides with the UK people, this is what happens.

Got that? We, the public, may have objected strongly in our hundreds of thousands to plain packaging in the biggest public consultation response in UK history ... but THEY - we-know-what's-best-for-you politicians - still 'won'.

Isn't that astonishing?

If you'd like to ram her words down her elitist throat and send a message to MPs that they should be listening to the public instead of triumphantly ignoring us, please try sending a letter to Cameron to urge him to back US rather than disgustingly arrogant, entrenched politicians like Luciana Berger.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Plain Packaging: Say No To Dave

I've been hugely busy in the past week as Puddlecote Inc reached its staging date for auto-enrolment pensions on the 1st of May so the small matter of running a business has had to take a back seat as we jump through hoops for the government ... and pay extra for the privilege. Where this fits into the coalition's claim to be stripping away red tape, I really don't know. It is by far the most bureaucratic, complicated, rigid, red tape heavy piece of legislation I have ever encountered (even briefly describing the process we have to employ would take up around 500 words).

Despite all this, I was still able to sign up for Forest's new campaign against ridiculous plain packaging legislation because it only takes about a minute to do (in my case, at lunch today over a nasty Sainsbury's microwave chilli con carne, I won't be buying that again). Simon Clark explains the whole thing at his blog better than I could so do please go have a read.

You can tell Dave to drop the stupid idea by clicking here, on the image at the top of this article, or at the sidebar on the right. If you could also share the website widely, that would be even better.

I know it's tiresome that we have to do this again seeing as nearly two thirds of the consultation responses have already told MPs that the UK public rejects the idea, but you know what politicians are like; it has to be rammed into their thick skulls again and again before they wake up and begin to listen.

Perhaps their ass-whipping by UKIP - who are solidly against plain packaging - this past week might make them more receptive now, you never know. They did say they were going to listen to us a bit more, after all, and I'm sure politicians wouldn't, err, lie.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Politicians Partying Like It's 1992

Back in the early 90s, during public distaste for the poll tax, Tory Home Secretary Ken Baker was heckled in the street by protesters while on a political engagement. Employing his smuggest grin - Baker was, of course, famously lampooned by Spitting Image as a slug because smug was his stock-in trade - he pointed at those booing him and said to the attendant TV media "look at them, just look at them!". His point was to show how pathetic he thought the protesters' opinions were in the most condescending manner possible, even while the country was almost unified against his government's policy.

After the 1992 general election, when the Tories were famously rescued from defeat by Kinnock's last-minute Sheffield grandstanding and John Major's soapbox man-of-the-people image, I remember Kenneth Baker emerging from Tory HQ in Smith Square in the early hours of the morning and saying "we have listened, we understand" or some such platitudes.

They did to some extent. Major's government scrapped the poll tax and replaced it with council tax - albeit at a level more than double the rates system that had gone before it (the confusion and lack of transparent comparison had led councils to spend like they'd never been able to before). However, nothing much else changed and the 1997 election saw the Tories swept from office by a landslide. The problem with the Tories was far more deep-seated than the poll tax, they just didn't recognise it.

Of course, this was back when voters truly believed they had a clear choice. We really thought it would make a difference if we voted for Thatcher or Kinnock; for Major or Blair.

Since then, though, we've had our civil liberties systematically stripped away by Blair and a period of boom years where the state had cash to inflate the public sector by a phenomenal degree. Government protected itself from criticism with quangos and state-paid sock puppets which pretended to act on behalf of the people, and its "investment" in state authorities installed nodding dogs in every municipality up and down the country at our expense. During all of this, the EU claimed more and more of the powers over legislation previously decided in Westminster as one directive after another rendered UK politicians fairly redundant in many areas (in my industry for example, transport, in the past 15 years all but one area of regulations - one involving external vehicle lighting - that we are to adhere to is now by order of an EU directive which replaced UK legislation and expanded on it massively).

However, the number of politicians in our country didn't change, neither did the huge number of spin doctors, advisers, quangos, fake charities, tax-sponging lobbyists, and other bodies whose existence - and the salaries of those within them - relied on regulation and legislation (in fact, they increased and spawned newer versions of themselves).

Fewer and fewer areas for Westminster to lord over us, coupled with a huge state machine designed to regulate in those fewer areas, has led to a toxic situation where these forces are focussed on an ever-decreasing low hanging fruit. An avalanche of political correctness was spawned to control what we think and say; health and safety became an industry all of its own to dictate how we work, rest and play to sometimes absurd levels; and social engineering has evolved rapidly to tell us what we can eat, drink and smoke. Common sense and tolerance died a sad slow death.

In 2010, a lot of voters had had quite enough of this and the diminishing few who continue to vote gave the politicians one last chance. We were promised the Great Repeal Bill, which didn't materialise; a "bonfire of the quangos", which left intact those who actually harm the public; and a red tape challenge which has not noticeably improved anyone's everyday life. Meanwhile, we have seen new legislation brought in which has united both Daily Mail and Guardian readers in condemnation of career politicians, but still they press on.

The last chance then became, for hundreds of thousands, the last straw.

UKIP have just scared the bejeesus out of the three main parties but I see echoes of 1992 in the ensuing reaction. Labour say they need to reconnect with the working man, we can be sure they won't; the Tories see UKIP as a reason why they must urgently renegotiate with Europe, but that's only part of the problem; while the Lib Dems seem to think that they're doing brilliantly!

They all say - just like Ken Baker in 1992 - that they understand, that they are listening. Cameron says that his party "share our frustrations", but they really don't while they keep ignoring their backbenchers who actually do. Miliband says his party is "making progress" and must "answer the call for change", but they won't. They will, instead, carry on nagging and dictating to us about what we choose to consume while their Welsh counterparts continue to try to ban e-cigs. The vulgar, illiberal Lib Dems will do the same because they don't think they're doing anything wrong.

The life experiences of everyone in this country have been diminished for a very long time now because career politicians simply can't stop meddling, and the only people who don't seem to have noticed are the career politicians themselves. The EU meddles - as it is a regulatory machine specifically designed to do just that - but the UK government has been doing extra meddling in its ever-expanding spare time and we have all had enough of it.

Or, as Suzanne Moore termed it last week.
Never mind the threat of Ukip, the electorate has been consumed with anger and alienated for years
I can, with some confidence, tell you who represents the majority of people in this week's elections. No one. Most people will not vote. For all the headlines and hoo-ha of the political/media class, the big story is not Ukip and whether Farage worships Satan in a smoking jacket. The real issue is that people neither know what they are supposed to be voting for, nor see any point in doing so.
They can address immigration and offer a referendum on the EU if they like, but it won't cure the underlying cancer of a political elite blithely ignoring the public and - just like Ken Baker 20 odd years ago - considering their views as irrelevant. This superior attitude to the people who pay their wages will carry on the moment they next step through the doors at Westminster and Whitehall.

Back in the 90s, the answer to Tory Baker's arrogant dismissal of the public and his party's failure to change attitude was to vote for Labour. Now, it seems, the public believe that the only answer to arrogant paternalism from the main established parties is to vote UKIP.

Is it really too much to expect our elected leaders to leave us alone to live our lives as we see fit within the law; and to actually listen to us - not state-funded quangos and lobbyists - once in a while? I suspect that we will discover in the coming weeks, months and years that, yes, unfortunately it is.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Poo Sticks

I expect there are some UK politicians thinking that once plain packaging is passed (despite overwhelming public rejection) there can't be much else for tobacco control industry executives to nag them about. They'd be wrong.

Please note that this is from New Zealand and not from The Daily Mash.
Public health researchers say the Government's next step after introducing plain packaging for tobacco should be to make cigarettes ugly by changing them to a dark green or brown colour which made young people think of "slime, vomit or pooh". 
A tobacco control lobby group told a parliamentary committee that cigarettes themselves were the "new canvas" for anti-smoking initiatives. 
 [Researcher and former public health physician Professor Richard Edwards, representing anti-smoking group Aspire2025, said] "Dissuasive sticks would remove the final illusion - the idea that clean white sticks with purposeful but actually useless filters can somehow purify what is an inherently toxic product. They expose cigarettes for what they are."
The final illusion? Wasn't 'glitzy' packaging supposed to be that just recently?

With plain packaging, all the sticks were mandated by the Aussie government to be white because brands such as Sobranie Cocktails - which I haven't seen since the 1970s until the prohibitionists reminded us they still exist - are guaranteed to create craving for tobacco in kids, but now white is a dangerous colour too?

Is this an admission that they already know plain packaging in New Zealand will fail just as it has in Australia?

Or does anyone else get the image of a bunch of highly-paid anti-smoking lobbyists, sitting round a table astonished at the gullibility of politicians having legislated their daft ideas in such short order, and desperately trying to come up with something - anything - to extend the life of their grants and salaries?

Incidentally, the 'research' consisted of interviews with a whopping 14 adult social smokers aged 18 to 24, and was led by Janet Hoek. Janet is a botanist, zoologist and Beowulf expert from the Marketing (?) department of New Zealand's Otago University who has - for many years - called for processed food to be treated like it were tobacco.

She likes these kind of tiny sample sizes to reach a pre-determined conclusion, as she proved when presenting a published study of 13 adult social smokers which 'proved' that there was strong support for "extending the smoke-free areas outside bars".

Of course, this was brilliant and sound science, whereas ...

Got all that?

So coloured sticks are evil and plain white good when campaigning for plain packaging. But once that's in the bag, plain white is seductive and therefore evil and must be changed to pea, ash, tan or sand colour ... which are good. Meanwhile, sample sizes of 13 and 14 are excellent evidence-based research, whereas 11 is just a joke.

Insane doesn't adequately describe these people any more, does it?

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies Is Not Fit For Purpose

Would look better holding a P45
Following on from yesterday's news, The Times today carried an editorial on e-cigs which is thoughtful and very well-informed (emphases mine).
Their use is not uncontroversial. Some feel they normalise smoking, while others insist that they allow former smokers to maintain addictions that they might otherwise have escaped. There is no evidence supporting either fear. Professor Robert West of UCL’s Department of Epidemiology & Public Health notes that some health professionals may be wary of e-cigarettes because they resemble the bad old burning weed. There is also, in a manner more sinister, resistance from pharmaceutical companies. The tobacco industry, after all, is not the only one threatened by a cheap, clean, safer alternative to cigarettes. The makers of patches, gums and inhalators have even more to lose. 
The government intends to license e-cigarettes as medicines from 2016, having by then come to a more advanced understanding of any risks they may carry. Certainly, their safety should be investigated and the sooner doctors can start prescribing e-cigarettes to smokers desperate to quit the better. Yet, much as a powerful pharmaceuticals lobby might like it if they were so classified, e-cigarettes are not quite medicines and there is a risk inherent in treating them as such
Electronic cigarettes have thrived precisely because they can be sold cheaply and almost everywhere. While some use them in the hope of ending nicotine dependence altogether, others have no such intention. In either case, they have the potential to represent a formidable advance in public health. This time there really could be smoke without fire.
Compare that calm and considered assessment of the debate with this one from Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies two months ago, where she simply repeats the fears for which The Times quite rightly reports that there is no evidence.
Don't let vaping, obesity and boozing become norms
Why are you against increased use of e-cigarettes?
If they were properly regulated as a medicine and we knew what was in them and the dose of nicotine, then they might play a useful role in stopping smoking. But they aren't, so at the moment we don't know their safety or the dose they deliver. They are often aimed at children with their flavourings – not only menthol but cookies and cream and bubblegum. They are sold rather cheaply and many of them are made in China, so I worry about what is in them. We have even got a verb for e-cigarette use: to vape. I am worried about normalising once again the activity of smoking. This matters particularly with children and adolescents. 
So you are worried this could be a rerun of socially acceptable smoking?
Yes. Have you seen the adverts for e-cigarettes? They make them look cool and chic. In the Metrocentre in Newcastle they have a vaping boutique, which looks like a perfume boutique.

And this is without mentioning rumours I've heard of her abject and insulting performance at the Public Health England forum on e-cigs recently.

Now, isn't the CMO meant to be rational and form opinions rooted in - you know, as the job title implies - dispassionate evaluation of data and science, as opposed to a media which is supposed to enjoy whipping up a frenzy based on scaremongery and junk science? The roles seem to have been reversed in this case.

Sally's silliness has been mentioned here before, but it's now becoming increasingly clear that she is either too easily manipulated by vested interests or just plain incompetent. Either way, it strongly indicates that she is unfit for purpose, vastly over-promoted to the position of CMO, and should be fired before she does any real damage.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Health 'Experts' Gutted At Good News

While the tobacco control industry has been chuntering on about how they know nothing about e-cigs so want them banned or restricted, the rest of the human population have been absolutely certain about what the BBC now confirms is true.
Smokers who use e-cigarettes to quit are more likely to succeed than those who use willpower alone or buy nicotine replacement therapies, such as patches or gum, a study suggests. 
The survey of nearly 6,000 smokers found a fifth had quit with the aid of e-cigarettes. 
That was 60% higher than those who did not use the devices, the study said.
Well of course. It's because they mimic the habits of smoking, deliver the same throat hit, are cheaper than tobacco ... and are fun. It really shouldn't take months and months of debate to come to this conclusion, it's hardly rocket science, is it? The fact that the 'public health' cartel has muddied the waters for so long in an attempt to deny something as plainly intuitive as this should raise alarm bells with the general public about what other lies the health 'experts' may have been telling.

So it's official, e-cigs are good for public health then. Bizarrely, though, there will be thousands of 'public health experts' who will be gutted about it today.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Carry On Smoking, Spain And America

Mike Siegel has today highlighted the absurd position of the CDC and FDA towards e-cigs and how they are effectively turning vapers back to smoking.
Data published last week in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggest that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are doing an effective job of helping protect the cigarette industry. These data show that despite widespread marketing of electronic cigarettes, half of the adult public still thinks cigarettes are no more hazardous than the fake ones. 
If the Senate truly wants to reduce cigarette smoking and protect the public's health, it will shift its attack from e-cigarette companies which are trying to get the public off tobacco cigarettes and over to the federal government, which is doing everything it can to protect the cigarette market.
As it-looks-like-smoking-so-we-don't-like-it-ism goes, the American situation is a cracker and worth investing in cases of popcorn to observe. For while smokers are taking up the harm reduction route of vaping in their many thousands, all we see is the US authorities desperately trying to drive them all back to tobacco!

I've seen this coming for a long time and always knew that e-cigs had the potential to expose the venal, disingenuous and ultimately selfish nature of the transnational tobacco control industry Goliath, so it's delicious to watch the CDC and FDA willingly destroy their own integrity.

Especially since, via Spain, we can see what the outcome will be
SALES of electronic or E-cigarettes have plummeted by 70 per cent in Spain due to strict regulations covering their use and reports claiming they are not entirely without health risks.
Up and down the country, Spaniards tempted to quit or cut down using e-cigs are having their decision-making hijacked by propaganda and legislation which is telling them there is no benefit to be derived, and heck, that they may as well just carry on smoking, eh?

No 'spectacular decrease' in child smoking for Spain, then. Brilliant work, anti-smokers! You're excelling yourselves.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Here's Some Evidence For You, Mark Drakeford

Following on from yesterday's article, one of the cherry-picked studies Welsh health minister Mark Drakeford chose to demonise e-cigs was plucked from across the English Channel.
"A research survey of Paris schoolchildren reported in academic journals in February of this year found two thirds of 12 to 14 year old e-cigarette users had never previously been a smoker"
Now, while I doubt this very much since it flies in the face of studies in other countries around the world which found quite the opposite, a report today in respected French newspaper Le Parisien details the, err, terrifying consequences of Drakeford's factoid.
Electronic cigarettes do not drive the young into the arms of tobacco, quite the contrary. This is essentially the conclusion of the annual Paris study on tobacco consumption. "This is a real surprise," admits Professor Bertrand Dautzenberg, author of this study of more than 13,000 high school students in Paris. 
The President of the French Office for the Prevention of smoking was the first to worry about the incentive effect of the e-cigarette there two years ago. According to the survey, many young people have taken to the new device: in 2014, over 90% of smokers had puffed on an e-cigarette, as well as 23% of non-smokers. In one year, experimenting with e-cigarettes which from 12 years has doubled and is at its height for 16-17 year olds: with 53% having held one in their hands. By comparison, the number of students lighting a cigarette once out of school has reduced significantly. 20% of 12-15 year olds smoked in 2011, it is now 11.2%. Same dynamic in high school, where 33.5% of students smoked in 2014, against 42.9% in 2011.
"A spectacular decrease in four years"
So, no evidence of the gateway theory, then - exactly as reported in the UK by ASH - and an almost halving of 12 to 15 year old smokers in a very short space of time. What's not to like? Put that with your other 'evidence', won't you Mark Drakeford?

Otherwise - to paraphrase something someone said quite recently - I'm sure our successors will look back at the debates we are holding today and shake their heads at health minister Drakeford acting in a way which threatens to prevent the same dramatic decline in smoking amongst Welsh teens.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Future Will Look Back And Shake Its Head At Mark Drakeford

I sometimes wonder if the dramatic decline in respect for politicians might be linked to the fact that since 1989 we have been able to watch them at work on the TV, and now, online. Because when they are presented to us like zoo animals in their own environment, it is quite clear that very many of them are stratospherically out of touch with the society they are supposed to serve.

There are exceptions of course, but - by way of example - how about this cute little mini-government chamber in Wales and their debate about the recent suggestion that e-cigs should be banned in public.

Get Adobe Flash player

Firstly, it goes without saying that not one speaker could allow themselves to even imagine that people should be free to choose to smoke or vape and that it is their business and not the government's, but that's par for the course with politicians. They didn't go into politics to permit you to make your own choices, merely to restrict them.

However, there was a brief glimpse of real liberalism from Lib Dem AM Kirsty Williams who opened with a fantastic Isaiagh Berlin quote.
"Those who have ever valued liberty for its own sake believed that to be free to choose, and not to be chosen for, is an inalienable ingredient in what makes human beings human"
Although this was to be a plank of her defence of e-cig use, the freedom love-in quickly dissipated as she described how she was fully in favour of denying publicans the freedom to choose what they allow in their private property, and expressed strong support for plain packaging and your decision to use tobacco or not being chosen for you.

The incredibly flimsy or non-existent 'evidence' behind those measures was fine and dandy for Kirsty, even as she castigated the Labour minister for the incredibly flimsy or non-existent 'evidence' for his absurd proposed e-cig ban.
"No justification for such a ban; no evidence to support such a ban; and indeed such a ban could lead to potential improvements in public health being lost"
But hey-ho.

The most unhealthy looking Labour politician I've seen for a while (Diane Abbott excepted) then stood up to tell everyone that all of those assembled were committed to helping the Welsh to be as healthy as possible, and that she doesn't know anything about e-cigs but wants them banned anyway. "We just don't know" she kept repeating, despite the fact that most of us really do know, considering everything in an e-cig has already been tested and declared safe about 50 years ago, and is in common use by around 100% of the population.

The Plaid Cymru member surprisingly also rejected a ban, albeit saying that she'd be gagging to ban them if only someone could come up with some decent junk science, before Tory Byron Davies rose to reject the proposal since restricting a product which is helping smokers to quit or cut down on tobacco would "bring the health bill into disrepute".

So far, so predictable. Labour desperate to ban, ask questions later; Tories pointing to job losses, and that a ban is unwarranted; Lib Dems picking and choosing which liberties their liberalism extends to.

But then up stepped Labour's Mark Drakeford (from 22:08 above), currently the most dangerous man the Welsh people have to face, and founder of this pointless and ill-conceived feast.

Obviously stung by the derisory reception his ridiculous idea has received, and now being asked to produce evidence for it - which was the rationale for the debate - he was in bullish mood. He'd scoured the globe for something - anything - to back him up and judging from his aggressive delivery I think he believes he found it in the form of a succession of desperate logical fallacies.

I counted seven of these, any advance?
It was clearly a gateway product for dotty Drakeford, despite all evidence proving that it is not. He then stated that "actions speak louder than words" and said that his government was only following the "mounting evidence" that e-cigs undermine smoking bans. 'Evidence' from such heavyweight health experts as Wetherspoons, Arriva trains and the Welsh Rugby Union who have banned their use because vaping apparently makes it more difficult to police their smoking policy.

Now, just think about that for a moment. Here is a politician justifying a Welsh ban on e-cigs because private companies are deciding to do so. How about that for leadership, eh? What's more, he is following their lead because they are taking the lazy and easy option for fear of eye-watering fines dreamed up and installed by - you guessed it - appalling authoritarian tossers like Mark Drakeford. This is the very definition of a circle-jerk, isn't it?

Next came the call to authority ... but only carefully selected ones, of course. All the usual suspects were in there, CRUK, BMA, WHO, PHE and - I shit you not - "all four Chief Pharmaceutical Officers" ... you know, the ones who really like competing gums and patches. There was, of course, no mention of any dissenting bodies such as the RCP or even ASH, probably because their 'expert advice' didn't fit his agenda.

He made his case further for this "modest" demand with an accusation that Lib Dem Williams "in a cavalier manner, dismissed nicotine of being no danger to anybody", presumably in complete ignorance that NICE and the RCP say exactly the same, and that the belief of it being a danger is a widely held one amongst the ill-informed.

Then came his assertion that e-cigs are no better than NRT for helping smokers to quit. In a field of funny excuses from it-looks-like-smoking-so-I-hate-it types, this is by far the most hilarious. You see, at any other time you can ask them about NRT and it is the jewel in the crown of the NHS, but when talking about e-cigs, it is apparently useless so therefore so must e-cigs be. Of course, even this is nonsense anyway, since Drakeford is - predictably - using out-of-date propaganda to push his cause. The truth is that no-one has yet studied the e-cigs that most people use, so his big revelation just illustrates how poor his researchers are.

Next up was the flavours canard proving that he believes the Earth is flat and Welsh adults only to be turned on by essence of dead goat and the taste of dog shit, before he falsely claimed that e-cigs were already banned indoors in the Czech Republic where there is not even a tobacco smoking ban, and that Australia have banned e-cigs entirely when they haven't ... yet.

I've left the best till last, though, but only because Drakeford thinks this is his most persuasive argument without realising that it's the only part he nailed perfectly, and is also his political epitaph.
"Do we want our successors to look back at the debates we are holding today and shake their heads at our inability to see where the evidence was leading"
He's absolutely correct. Because politicians of the future - and not that far in the future either - who will see the good place that the evidence led to, will look back on this utter madness and wonder what the hell Drakeford was smoking to let his political career be defined by such piss poor judgement.

It's a quote that vapers worldwide should keep somewhere safe and prominent. You just know it's going to haunt poor deluded (perhaps also manipulated) Mark to his dying day.

PS Drakeford's guff was obliterated by Conservative Darren Millar, vapers might want to follow him on Twitter.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Official: There Really Is No Booze Britain 'Epidemic'

It's a tough job being an anti-alcohol trougher these days.

You see, they have to try to sell the idea that Britain is in the grip of a booze epidemic despite the incontrovertible fact that alcohol consumption has been declining here for a decade now. It's a regular theme of this blog that - very inconveniently - official statistics show our booze intake is reducing at the same rate as the hysterical shrieking from alcohol prohibitionists is increasing. So it must come as a knife in the back to this miserable, beleaguered group that even their fellow health obsessives - the unelected WHO - have now weakened their hand further.

On Monday, the WHO launched their latest report on global alcohol use and, you guessed it, they confirmed that there is no 'booze Britain' epidemic worth its salt. Not only does it show once again that alcohol consumption has been falling in recent times, it also proves that - far from there being a catastrophic rise in alcohol abuse - there has been no real change in our habits for at least 40 years.

File that in the drawer marked things you won't read in the mainstream media.

What is worse for alcohol controllers, though, is that their usual excuse for declining consumption has also been blitzed by the WHO. 

Sadly, the BBC don't keep radio recordings for more than a week, but if you'd tuned in to Radio 5 in November last year you would have heard regular anti-alcohol mouthpiece Nick Sheron dismissing the fact that consumption is going down by saying that much of the reduction is due to the greater proportion of ethnic minorities - many of whom shun alcohol - in our society.

It's a trick often used by those in the temperance movement, as illustrated by the Institute of Alcohol Studies when trying to explain why youngsters are increasingly not drinking according to ONS figures.
The report does not analyse the findings in relation to religion or ethnicity and so it is impossible to gauge the impact of the growth in the numbers of schoolchildren from non-British indigenous backgrounds, some of which proscribe the use of alcohol. In 2011 the Department for Education announced that in England around 25% of children in state schools were from ethnic minorities, and the proportion is growing rapidly.
However, the Economist has produced a very interesting graphic which blows this hypothesis out of the water. Using WHO data, instead of focussing on just per capita consumption it also illustrates the amount consumed per drinker ... and the UK is way down in 95th position.

As Snowdon notes at the IEA, this is a bit of a problem for Alcohol Concern. 
Per capita consumption in Britain is the 25th highest in the world - which is still considerably lower than the Daily Mail would have you believe - but it is only 95th when you look at it per drinker. This interesting statistic was entirely ignored by the spokeswoman for Alcohol Concern when she was asked to comment....
Emily Robinson, Deputy Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern told Huffington Post UK via email: “It’s a tragedy for every one of us that the UK is wallowing amongst the worst 25 countries in the world for alcohol intake. 
“Because of this lives are being needlessly lost and even more ruined by ill health. Sadder still is that the Government knows what needs to be done to turn this bleak picture around...
She then called for minimum pricing and advertising bans, as her job requires, but it is odd to complain that the UK is "wallowing amongst the worst 25 countries in the world" just because it has more (moderate) drinkers. Groups like Alcohol Concern claim that they are against excessive drinking, not drinking per se. If so, the 'consumption per drinker' figure is much more relevant to their cause. As the blue dots on the left side of the chart show, per capita consumption figures are as much a measure of the number of teetotallers as anything. The problem Emily Robinson identifies could be solved by a surge of Islam and Methodism, but that would not affect heavy drinkers.
So the WHO has quite brilliantly skewered the ethnic argument from the likes of Sheron and Robinson because they simply can't have it both ways. If they want to look at just the rates of those who drink - that is, strip out the people who are teetotal - there are 94 nations with a greater 'booze epidemic' than us.

However, if they insist on sticking to the per capita ranking to advance their agenda, we are 25th but - by their own admission - the proportion of ethnic minority children in schools who will grow up to reject alcohol is "growing rapidly" so our rank will swiftly improve.

Nothing, then, for alcohol campaigners to do but sit and wait, eh? Or maybe we could sack some seeing as their job is being handled by demographics without their input.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

In A Nutshell

Busy times here in Puddlecoteville but here's a quick gem from an article I read in the office this afternoon over a corned beef and pickle sarnie.

Ben Popken of NBC News has written a fairly balanced piece about differing policies towards e-cig use in American offices. In essence, it seems that small businesses are mostly embracing their use while larger ones opt for counter-productive and lazy blanket bans. However, the comments underneath also tell a story of their own about the new phenomenon of vaping.

As you read down you will see one pompous anti-smoker after another desperately drawing extreme scenarios, expressing faux outrage, or coming up with far-fetched excuses to fear e-cigs and show disgust towards anyone who uses them. Without any 'evidence' of harm - you know, like the olden days when smoking bans were supposed to be about that - to hang their irrational prejudices on, each scrape of the barrel is effortlessly countered by other more tolerant and rational folk.

It's a joy, it really is, but the whole situation is gloriously and succinctly encapsulated in this excellent put-down by some non-smoking geezer called "Mike from Gary". Watch and learn.
Admit it, people like you are simply enjoying lording it over people who use a still-legal product, and are just pushing as hard as you can, simply because you can. You pushed them into "smoking areas," then complained the areas were too smoky. You pushed them outside, then complained because you could smell them when the wind was right. Now they've found a compromise solution, but you're not interested in solutions, are you? You just enjoy imposing your will on others.
Nailed it. It's never been about health

Y'see, this is why I love e-cigs so very much. They almost appear sent by a heavenly being to expose anti-smokers - and the junk scientists who cater to them - as the absurd, self-centred, intolerant, anti-social control freaks they have always been.

And do you know what? I think more and more people are beginning to notice.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Labour: Freedom Fighters?

It's interesting how two sides can view the same material emanating from Labour, isn't it?

Last week, Brendan O'Neill commented thus on their new manifesto packed with ways of dictating what working people freely choose to consume.
These proposals tell you pretty much everything you need to know about modern Labour. They reveal in Technicolor glory the party's killjoyism and its contempt for the public. They expose a party machine so cut off from everyday people, so very aloof from the man in the street, that it has come to view us as effectively overgrown children who must have chocolates and booze hidden from our view lest feel be tempted to gorge on them and become fat and tipsy in the process (heaven forfend). They show a party so utterly bereft of big ideas for how to kickstart the economy or reinvigorate industry that it now concerns itself with – drum roll – the fact that there are Mars bars next to the tills at Morrison's. I mean, really. Who has ever spied a Twix while waiting to pay for his groceries and thought to himself, "I wish the political parties would do something about this chocolately assault on my senses"? Answer: no one, ever.
Meanwhile in the Guardian, Owen Jones tells us that Labour are the party of freedom and light; the party of less government intrusion into our lives. No, really.
The authoritarian statists in No 10 have got away with dressing themselves up as freedom-loving champions of the individual for too long. The fight for personal freedom and liberty is a great historic cause, but it now falls to the left to take it up.
Well, it would be nice if Labour were ever to take up Owen's challenge by actually reading letters from vapers about e-cigs instead of their enforcer ramming unwarranted regulations through Brussels; by obeying the concerned public about plain packaging; by not "empowering people" by taking away choices and punishing the poor with minimum alcohol pricing. In short, by not being such aloof, deaf, snobby, authoritarian, disconnected toffs.

I'm still waiting for someone in politics - anyone in politics - to actually talk about freedom properly instead of arguing about which party is the best at stopping us eating chocolate.

So all this left/right guff is pretty irrelevant.

I'd say, though, that Jones is wildly deluded if he really thinks that his lot are the freedom fighters in the 21st century. I'm old enough to remember Harold Wilson talking about such things, but even he - the disgusting pipe smoker, he - would now be a legitimate target for 'denormalisation' by Jones's bunch of screaming prohibitionists.

He does have one tiny point, though. That being that the incumbents are not distinguishably any better, otherwise his article would be so laughable that Harry Hill would be making a show out of it.

Three parties; one goal. To screw the public as much as possible. Bet you simply can't wait till that glittering choice on May 22nd, eh?

H/T Mudgie

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Mascot Watch #29: Not Letting It Lie Edition

You may remember that our Phil was seriously questioning government funding of ASH a couple of weeks ago.
Philip Davies MP, said: "It is perfectly clear from the bid documents from ASH for Government funding that some of this money is used by ASH for campaigning activity to lobby the Government to implement ASH's demands. 
"For the Government to in effect spend money to lobby itself is ridiculous and unjustifiable in equal measure. This improper funding relationship should stop and the Government should investigate this and any other similar arrangements to ensure taxpayers' money is not abused in this way".
You'll be pleased to know he hasn't left it there either. Earlier this week saw the publication of a written parliamentary question probing further.
Philip Davies (Shipley, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether funding allocated to Action on Smoking and Health may be used for campaigning purposes by that body under the terms on which it is allocated. 
Jane Ellison (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health; Battersea, Conservative)
Since 2011, the conditions for the grants provided to Action on Smoking and Health under the Department of Health’s “Section 64 General Scheme of Grants to voluntary and Community Organisations” arrangements have explicitly set out that none of the funding provided by the Department should be intended or used for political lobbying or campaigning purposes.
Advocacy work in support of the implementation of existing Government Tobacco Control policies and programmes of work is acceptable.
Hmm, interesting. So it seems that using government funds to shout "huzzah!" about government policy is considered to be fantastic use of taxpayer cash, apparently. Personally, I find that quite corrupt in and of itself, but hey ho.

More to the point, though, is the first paragraph of Ellison's response. It states categorically that no funding from the DoH should be used for political lobbying or campaigning, something that ASH exists solely to do.

I'm sure they will claim that cash they receive elsewhere is used for campaigning, whereas the Section 64 money is only used to shout "huzzah!" at every infantilising pronouncement from Westminster. But unless they have many separate bank accounts for storing income from different sources (a child's starter account would do for donations from the public, such is ASH's definition of 'charity') it all goes in the same pot, I expect.

All of which begs the question why government funds them at all. Surely the best way for politicians to keep their hands clean and be free of accusations of foul play would be to cut Debs and her mates off without a penny. Then, and only then, would the stench of corrupt use of our money go away, doncha think?

Keep on pushing Philip, we're all behind you.

Friday, 9 May 2014

The New Flat Earthers

Commenting on the incredible incompetence of the Western Australian government in banning e-cigs, shyster of the week is Roger Magnusson, Professor of Health Law and Governance at the University of Sydney.
Professor Magnusson says it’s breathlessly naïve to assume e-cigarettes will function only or mainly as stop-smoking devices.
“US research suggests these products are a gateway to smoking as often as a gateway from smoking,” he says.
“If they are such a great quit smoking device, they might nevertheless be made available to smokers on prescription. That would give smokers an alternative option, while minimising the creation of a new market for recreational nicotine that may well lead to smoking addiction for many of those new initiates, a great many of whom will be adolescents and young people.
Yes, it's the zombie gateway theory yet again, uttered with absolute certainty despite having been thoroughly debunked on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the US, official statistics showed that youth smoking fell as vaping rose, while another study concluded that "it didn't seem as though [e-cigs] really proved to be a gateway to anything". Meanwhile, back in Blighty anti-smoking fake charity ASH reported last month that "significantly, usage among non-smokers remains negligible" and "there is no evidence from our research that e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway into smoking".

Pretty conclusive, huh?

For Magnusson - and others like him who cling to their dull-witted imagination rather than real life evidence - to invoke "US research" while burbling such nonsense is comparable to someone pointing to the existence of orbiting satellites as proof that the Earth is flat.

He is either so laughably ignorant of facts surrounding e-cigs that he shouldn't really be approached for a quote, or else he's a monumental liar. You decide.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

So Wine Is Targeted At Kids Then, Yeah?

Desperately-contrived tobacco control industry attack of the week is from Bloomberg, where else?
Flavored cigars that are popular with teens contain the same additives found in Jolly Rancher candies and Kool-Aid drink mixes, lending weight to the argument that tobacco companies take aim at youth, researchers said. 
Almost every flavor chemical found in tested sweets, including grape and cherry, are used in combinations in similarly flavored cigars and dipping tobacco, Portland State University researchers said in a letter posted yesterday by the New England Journal of Medicine.
You mean the tobacco industry buys flavourings from the same flavouring manufacturers as does every other industry? The bastards!
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids called flavored cigars “Big Tobacco’s tricks for getting kids hooked on their products” in a blog post in October.
Or they could be just something for adults who like grapes? You know, the fruit used to make the wine that adults worldwide drink many squillions of gallons of every day? Yeah, I know it's a long shot but I thought I'd put it out there anyway.
[Brian King, senior adviser to the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health], compared the cigar products to electronic cigarettes that come in flavored versions as well. Lorillard Inc. (LO)’s blu eCigs come in flavors including cherry crush, vivid vanilla and pina colada.
Well, that nails it, and no mistake. Who ever heard of an adult enjoying cherries, vanilla ice cream or a cool pina colada?

Good grief.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Labour MSP Confirms It Wasn't About Bar Staff

"So politicians lie, sue me"
You may not have heard of Ken Macintosh - not surprising because even Ed Miliband struggles to remember him - but he made quite a revelation in the Scottish Parliament yesterday.
I cannot speak for other members, but my main motivation in voting for and supporting the ban on smoking in public places in Scotland was that it would help us to denormalise smoking, so that we would no longer see people smoking in our pubs or cafes or in most other workaday or social situations, and so that we and our children would no longer see smoking as a normal activity. I believe that the ban has been successful in doing exactly that ...
Now, we jewel robbers have always known that the smoking ban was installed on the back of lies and deceit, but it's nice to see it officially recorded.

Of course, it won't come as any consolation to the thousands of pub owners whose businesses were deliberately sabotaged - and in many cases shut down - due to a mendacious political trick. As the tobacco control industry has known since the 1970s, the only way that idiot politicians could be persuaded en masse to trample on property rights and financially cripple our world-renowned hospitality trade was via the justification that it would end the carnage of bar worker bodies piling up in the street of a weekend.

So why has Ken chosen now to come out with with this admission? Well, simply because by changing the terms of debate he can call for yet another ban, this time for e-cigs.
... I worry that we are about to undo some of that good work. 
The Advertising Standards Authority has just finished its consultation on advertising of e-cigarettes, and I hope that it will treat them as it would any other cigarette [...] the Welsh Government has said that it will restrict their use in enclosed public spaces. Here in Scotland, the minister is undoubtedly making the right noises, and seems to be indicating her intention to follow suit, but announcements have so far been limited to saying that the Government is considering the next steps.
There was no dissent from other contributors over another loss of liberty for their citizens - this is Scotland, after all, where they get very excited about banning stuff - but plenty of support. Fellow Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale declared how Macintosh's tosh had "educated" her about vaping, and Scottish Nationalist Michael Russell suggested that Macintosh may very well get his wish.
It was also right for Mr Macintosh to discuss vaping. I am quite sure that the health ministers will bring forward their plans and will have noted his contribution.
So a ban on e-cigs in Scottish public places it is, then. Hmm, it's not about health, is it?

It does appear, though, that these particular idiot politicians have very little clue what they are talking about. If you're in Scotland, you might want to be pro-active and start sending them some educational letters before they get carried away with their own ignorant self-importance.


Scotland must be proud to have an expert like Macintosh educating parliament about e-cigs.
Vaping is the new term for use of e-cigarettes, which give off a cloud of vapour rather than tarry smoke. It is a term that has been coined by advertisers that are promoting a new and, they hope, attractive product.
Err, actually, it's an old term coined by a doctor in the 1970s.

Apart from that, he's spot on.

Document H/T CS via Twitter

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

"Inhaling Stuff = Smoking"

See, this is why I love e-cigs.

The most intolerant and anti-social in society - aided by their lack of intelligence and astounding gullibility - have, for years, enjoyed the services of a tobacco control industry to provide them with clichéd 'arguments' as to why their prejudice is merited.

Now, with the advent of e-cigs, they are lost. They are woefully incapable of adapting to this new environment and are reduced to flailing around and making themselves look the utter imbeciles they have always been.

The numpties were in early and often under this Guardian article yesterday (muppets in red, the sane in green). Enjoy.
RabbitP: I don't care what it does to its addicts, but I want this thing to be banned from all the places where conventional fags are banned. We used to be told that passive smoking was harmless. Now we know otherwise. So - we're now being told that passive inhalation of the nicotine-laden steam from these objects is harmless. I remain to be convinced.
Atom57: I was astonished to see a woman in her late 60s grab a sneaky puff in full view of my local hospitals reception desk while i was waiting for physio, and I believe they should be banned in public places.
Blossiekins: Why should they be banned? They're not harmful, they don't smell, they're not a fire hazard? Is it because it looks like smoking a cigarette? If so, that's a pretty feeble reason. 
Novelist: Inhaling stuff = smoking. 
Finn_Nielsen: No, inhaling stuff = breathing, mostly. You should probably revise for a biology GCSE.
Hairhorn: Sigh.... and we'll have to fight the second hand smoke fight all over again.
deadcatclub: They don't produce smoke, so I doubt that. 
proudsonofduck: Are you aware that there is a difference between smoke and water vapour?
stripedone: More junk bought by hapless addicts in thrall to the corporate drug pushers. Brilliant how the tobacco industry has found a way to keep the addiction going.
scouseexile: I'd suggest you actually tried reading something about e-cigs other than newspapers, because everything in your first two sentences is wrong.
Novelist: What evidence is there that inhaling propylene glycol etc. is safe?
yesfuture: Asthma inhalers
And my personal favourite, perhaps the real reason behind all of the ignorant and smirkworthy anti-comments above.
jebjew: Takes me back to my teenage years of sitting on the school bus and having to put up with the cooler school pupils smoking in my face.
Because that seems to be what all this resurgence of Victorian lifestyle snobbery boils down to. The inadequate and anti-social desperately trying to protect their recently-acquired smugness over those who they see as having far too much fun. Now it's all getting away with vaping and they don't like it one little bit.

Happily, once these early mouth-breathers were effortlessly (and hilariously) slapped down, proper discussion from those able to debate rationally commenced.

It helps to prove none of this has never been about health, though. Just the ego-massaging of the most intolerant, gross and spoilt of the public against the majority of society who are far more accepting of free choices and aware of the fact that occasionally life is not about the world on a stick and a unicorn for Christmas.

Well, that and the protection of income streams for perennial state-funded snake oil salesman, of course.

Monday, 5 May 2014

When The Candidates Come Knocking ...

This time last week, Labour's former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was telling her lefty mates why simply kicking UKIP was not going to work in their favour.
If I were a candidate, the last thing I would be doing is talking about or tweeting about Ukip. I would be out on the doorstep listening to those who think they are being ignored, responding with local facts and evidence and talking up Labour plans to ensure that the cost of living crisis is tackled and that everyone benefits from EU membership and economic growth. 
Ukip are growing their support by claiming to represent the disenfranchised – the last party to successfully do this was Labour. [...] we have the economic message and the local campaigning strength to re-engage those losing faith in politics and economics. I will do my bit by spending less time on Twitter and more time on the doorstep.
Seems a fair point. In short, she is saying that insulting UKIP and their supporters for objecting to career politicians is not a great way of encouraging potential UKIP voters to like Labour. Instead, says Jacqui, activists should get out and tell the public all about the wonderful things Labour have planned for us.

Well, after yesterday, we know a little bit more about what they are offering when they knock on our door, don't we?

Banning alcohol sponsorship; telling supermarkets to make their products harder for us to find; taking the tasty ingredients out of food; raising the cost of booze; dictating what you can do in your own car; banishing Walker's crisp to the naughty step till after 9pm; bringing in plain packaging despite it tanking in Australia; forcing adults to be fit; and banning Frosties.

According to Labour MP Chuka Umunna, all the above will be "empowering people", not ordering us about, absolutely not ... and this from someone said to be leading a "revolt" against the proposals!

As Frank Davis muses, one can only assume that the objections are because these ideas are not hideous enough.
But I'm puzzled that the Labour party is revolting against Red Ed’s fascist health plans. I can only suppose that the bastards actually want the health plans to be much more draconian than Ed is proposing, perhaps with compulsory P.E. for the entire UK population, with everyone assembling daily under barked loudspeaker instructions on village greens and town squares to perform a regime of press-ups and knee-bends and marathon runs specifically designed to kill off unfit smokers and drinkers and fat people (who oughtn't to be alive anyway). 
I'm sure they will want something along those lines. Or maybe something even worse.
Comments on all media platforms yesterday - whether they be right, left or centre - have been significantly opposed to this kind of wholesale nannying, perhaps why Labour are trying to back-track a tad.

Not that much though. Umunna can only say that "a lot" of the Mail's story is "garbage", despite at least half of it already being demanded by MPs in Westminster if you even only skim debates held there recently. Meanwhile their spin doctors are claiming that this is "not official policy" despite the Mail publishing the Labour document in its entirety, and the proposals looking very much like a milder finished article after the even more insane suggestions had been rejected.

So this is what Labour MPs - as Jacqui Smith suggests they should do - will be taking to doorsteps up and down the country prior to May 2015, is it? This is how their politicians are going to woo an electorate which despises them and is deserting the main parties in droves? By saying that a vote for Labour is a vote to be infantilised and have your life dictated to by members of the country's most untrustworthy and despised profession?

Leg Iron describes it perfectly (in the middle of last night, as is his wont) when he points out that if Labour believe this is going to be popular, they've been listening to the wrong people.
All the politicians hear these days are the whining of the lobbyists. “There is massive public support” for smoking bans, plain packs, booze control, diet control, and all the rest and it is all entirely fabricated. As the swing to UKIP – despite the constant portrayal of that party in the press as being composed of people almost as insane as those in Wastemonster now – should demonstrate to a politician with a brain. Even if it’s in a jar on his desk with ‘For emergency use only’ stencilled on it. 
That’s all they hear since they stopped listening to real people. “There is massive public support for this new measure we haven’t yet told anyone about. Look how many signatures we have written, um, collected.” Now the effects are filtering through. Moribund must genuinely believe that turning the country into a less appealing version of North Korea is what the public want. Either that, or he really does not want to win the next election.
We're a long way from that May 2010 post-election optimism in the back garden of Number 10, aren't we? You know, when Clegg was talking about "rolling back our liberties" and Cameron was hinting at a new era of liberalism now the demons of Labour had been vanquished.

If anything, things have got a lot worse and each of the three main parties are engaged in a game of one-upmanship with the winner being he who can boss us around the most; where the ingenious plan to stem the flood of voters to UKIP by insulting them has failed; and where the remedy is now to turn up on our doorstep and tell us that they're sorry they haven't butt-fucked us enough but they promise to try harder if we can just give them another chance.

Perhaps Labour's proposed manifesto should be welcomed, though, especially if all parties follow Jacqui Smith's sage advice to promote their message to us personally. Because most of us will be seeing candidates of all parties knocking on our doors in the run up to May 22nd and, since they're just not getting it, we should be asking them - not just Labour, but Tories, Lib Dems, Greens and yes, UKIP too - a simple question.

Will you leave us alone?

Personally, I shall also have props behind the door as exhibits. A pack of Winston Blue, a bottle of cheap plonk, an e-cig, a packet of crisps, a can of Red Bull and, of course, a fucking chocolate orange. And I shall ask them why they think they have any right whatsoever to interfere in our choice to purchase and consume any of them.

If the answer is "blah blah, obesity crisis, blah blah, binge-drinking epidemic, blah blah, pocket money prices, blah blah, for the children, blah blah", tell them you won't even consider voting for them and expand at great length. We are in a very rare period in the electoral cycle where they come begging us for something, so make sure you use it. It's the only possible way - and I know that even that is a long shot - that these people will learn to listen to us instead of the cocktrumpets they pay out of our taxes to lobby them.