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Broon speaks on smoking - and gets a well-deserved fisking

The Would Be Lord Protector has been hectoring addressing the nation, or as Pravda Central puts it "Speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP, at the National Consumer Council - responsible choices on smoking".

First of all I want to thank the NCC for inviting everyone along to debate how people, public services, companies and government can all work together to make Britain healthier - and to thank all of you for coming along today.

Not much of a debate if a goal has already been pre-defined, is it?

Nothing matters more to any of us than our health and the health of our family and friends.

Absolute BS. If health was always one’s prime concern, we would never engage in any risky activity (mountain climbing, driving, drinking too much etc etc) and would be having weekly, perhaps daily check ups and attempting to bully said friends and family into doing the same. And you would have gone to the dentist far in advance of getting a toothache wouldn’t you?

And as our population knows more about how to improve health, what we do matters more so than ever before. Now there are things that we can all do as individuals to be healthier but there are also certain things that governments can also do.

And who exactly is ‘we’? The royal ‘we’ perhaps?

This is the last of our pre-Budget consultations.

Thank God for that.

In the past you looked at a budget just for what it said for this year about the economy or inflation or interest rates. Now budgets look far further into the future - about changes we can make together to improve the country.

Trying to fetter your successors, aren’t you?

So in my preparation for the Budget, I have been talking and listening to families around the country about child benefits and Sure Start and nursery education. I have listened to what the elderly have to say about pensions. I have talked to parents about schools. I have talked to employees and companies about the skills and jobs of the future. I have talked to community groups about environment and regeneration. And today we are talking about health.

So, lots of hot air. I could spend all day every day talking to functional groups with differing agendas and achieve precisely nothing. Note that you have said nothing about whether your chat fests have served to change your plans.

But when we talk about health we're also talking about the kind of country we want to become - as well as what we want as individuals - and how high our aspirations are. Let me give you some examples.

What do you mean ‘we’? I didn’t vote for you, and your idea of the ‘country we want to become’ is vastly different from mine.

Australia made a decision to become a sporting nation by becoming a non-smoking nation. And by 2029, 90 per cent of adults will be non-smokers, a target we may on present trends achieve only by 2050. And recent research indicates that there may be no female smokers at all by 2030 in Australia.

By which you mean the Australian political class. I’m not aware of a plebiscite in Oz where every last ocker signed up to this. Will be’? Remains to be seen doesn’t it? You and your confederates reckoned that five years on from the 1997 Year Zero this would be the land of milk and honey. I’m still waiting….

Finland made a decision that to tackle heart disease they had to become a fitter nation. Figures suggest 70 per cent of adults now engage in physical activity once a week. Only 40 per cent do so in Britain.

Define physical activity. Are 60% of us in a persistent vegetative state and incapable of movement?

And in Britain some years ago we made a decision to cut deaths on our roads - introducing seatbelts, breathalysers and aggressive advertising against drink driving. Today, person for person we have half the road deaths of France and a third of the road deaths of America.

By enforcing criminal sanctions you cretin, and therefore a grossly unsuitable parallel. Rather different from ‘persuasion’, isn’t it, unless you are planning on criminalising tobacco.

So we can make other decisions as a nation to become healthier.

Well whoopee do. You could enforce a law making us all go jogging every morning, but that does not make it one with which I would concur.

Patricia Hewitt the Secretary of State for Health and Caroline Flint Minister of State for Public Health are here to discuss health issues with you.

Or rather to incline their heads, say ‘mmm’ rather a lot and then continue as per normal. As for the National Consumer Council, I doubt that they are especially representative of the nation. Note that it is headed by ‘Lord’ Whitty, erstwhile Labour minister. Plenty of other board members and ‘advisers’ strongly indentifed with the broad left too.

Take smoking.

Don’t mind if I do.

One in four adults smoke.


And almost one in every five pregnant women continues to smoke
For lower income mothers it's one in every three that continue to smoke. And we know also that today girls are more likely to smoke than boys, unskilled workers more so than professionals.

In part because of the brilliant idea of letting on that smoking results in low birth rates, thus appealing greatly to dimmer women.

Smoking costs the NHS £1.5 billion a year. In England in 2004/05 there were approximately 1.4 million NHS hospital admissions with diseases that can be related to smoking. And an estimated 88,800 (18 per cent) of deaths in 2004 were caused by smoking.

And why don’t you mention the rake from tobacco tax? And if we all stopped smoking, 18% would live forever, would they?

In 1998 the Department of Health set a 2010 target of reducing adult smoking to 24 per cent, a target we've hit with 1.6 million fewer smokers now.

Maybe, maybe not. How was this figure arrived at? Self reporting surveys, making assumptions based on sales?

Our new target is 21 per cent by 2010.

So what can we do?

(Shut up and sit down, or better still go away, please)

Better treatment and the NHS now offers a comprehensive stop smoking service:

- an assessment by a GP;
- support through counselling;
- helplines; and
- through the NHS, nicotine replacement patches and gum.

The Department of Health has allocated £56 million to stop smoking services this year - approx £189 per quitter. And spending on nicotine replacement products like patches and gum is around a further £50 million.

Well isn’t that a bargain? And you are bragging about it? And what happens to backsliders?

We have already banned practically all tobacco advertising, use hard-hitting warning labels, are raising the age limit for cigarettes to 18 and - this is for discussion today - used the tax system to encourage people to stop smoking.

Let’s not talk about Formula One eh? ‘Encourage’ – how weaselly does it get?

And this summer we will see the most radical reform yet: banning smoking in public places.

Erm no. I can still smoke in the street. That’s a public place. And you have nationalised a chunk of behaviour, which is shameful.

After smoke-free laws in Ireland, cigarette sales fell by 15 per cent, in Norway by 14 per cent, in New York 100,000 people have quit since the start of the ban.

Given any thought to how you are going to make good the tax rake shortfall?

I am keen to explore some of the options we have to us to further reduce smoking.

I bet you are. You are never happier than when meddling and foisting ever monstrous pieces of social engineering on the populace.

For example:

- Should patches and nicotine gum be made cheaper, for example free of tax?
- Can we give better incentives for getting fit?
- Should we tax cigarettes more?
- How can we stop smuggling of illegal cigarettes into our pubs and communities?
- And how does smoking fit in to a wider campaign for public health?

I look forward to hearing your views. This is an opportunity for you all to influence the way we do things and any changes we make.

So, you address an audience of unelected fellow travellers, and expect them to do anything more than clap like circus seals?

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Blogger Guthrum said... 5:32 pm

good one! going for a fag !  

Anonymous This guy said... 5:33 pm

So Big Broon is keen on fitness, is he???????? He looks more like an advert for deep-fried Mars bars.

Has the Croy a view on Sunday's Finnish/Suomilainen election? If not, wot abaat Quebec or NSW?  

Blogger Croydonian said... 5:37 pm

G - Cheers. Took me a couple of cigarillos to wade my through that pile of self-serving ordure.

TG - I've been mulling on those forthcoming events, and might inflict something on the readership.  

Anonymous this guy och aye hoots etc. said... 5:45 pm

I see the current Private Eye is much preoccupied with Broon's dental adventures.  

Anonymous verity said... 6:26 pm

Excellent fisk, Croydonian!

Not only do I hate the abnormal Gordon Brown as much as, or even more than, Tony Blair hates him, but, as you rightly note, he is a cretin.

How did he get a reputation for being clever when everything about him shrieks "Inadequate person!"?

I agree with all your fisks, but you missed one! The NHS is going to get yet another opportunity to indulge in NuLab's favourite form of social engineering: Counselling. People who want to quit are also going to get cheap nicotine patches and nicotine gum.

A whole socialist industry has sprung up around quitting smoking - giving, I am sure, a huge boost to employment in the public/parasite sector.

Gordon, close your mouth and try breathing through your nose, for which activity it was expressly designed, and follow my words on the monitor with your forefinger:

People who want to quit smoking, quit. All this "addiction" talk is garbage. People who want to stop doing something, stop.

I used to smoke 60 cigarettes a day. If I went out in the evening, that was another pack - 80. I loved smoking. I would stay up to smoke.

Then one day, I suddenly thought, "I don't want to be a smoker any more." I smoked up until midnight that night, stubbed out my last cigarette and never smoked again. (I had a friend who not only stayed up to smoke, but loved smoking so much he smoked in the shower, and he quit, too.)

People stop doing something when they feel they don't want to do it any more.  

Blogger Raedwald said... 6:46 pm

Lovely Fisk!

Enjoyed every glistening pearl with my Gauloise between my lips.

Thank you. You've just made the world a very slightly better place.  

Blogger CityUnslicker said... 10:49 pm

A wvery thorough fisking indeed. I lvoe the bit at the end about a 'consultation' on policy that he has already decided!

good fisk.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 11:47 pm

" How can we stop smuggling of illegal cigarettes into our pubs and communities?"

Anyone who strolls up the Holloway Road most days will encounter an organised group of Balkan gentlemen selling 200-stick cartons of cigarettes for a fraction of the legal price. Not being a smoker myself I rather regret my inability to take advantage of their kind offer. But it does demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that everything Broon says is just piss and wind, because this government doesn't have the bottle to enforce their own laws.  

Anonymous verity said... 1:18 am

" How can we stop smuggling of illegal cigarettes into our pubs and communities?"

Why would you want to?  

Anonymous swift said... 11:03 am

It's the title of this speech that I hate the most - 'responsible choices'. Classic newspeak.
Britain has three of the four largest tobacco companies in the world, they and their customers give billions to the treasury, yet anyone who tries to exercise their legal right to smoke is hounded and harrassed and made to feel like a criminal. In fact, once Brown (or Cameron) has introduced a few 'green' taxes, he'll be able to afford to ban smoking. Give it five years.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 11:26 am

Swift - exactly. As I am forever saying, freedom without the freedom to make 'poor' choices - and to accept their consequences - is the 'freedom' of the kindergarten.  

Blogger The Hitch said... 2:32 pm

That made you angry didnt it will? (+:
I cant tel you how much i hate that f****** and all the others

I think verity has the right idea move to a country where the locals treat politicians as entertainment , let them pass laws to make themselves feel important and then ignore them and their laws , maybe slip a copper a few quid if he catches you doing something naughty.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 2:34 pm

Hich - sure did. I hate lying politicians, and I hate being patronised. Otherwise, I'm as calm as a mill pond.  

Anonymous verity said... 3:20 pm

Hitch - Mexicans don't treat politicians as entertainment, but they do spend 24 hours a day not thinking about them. That's because the politicians here are not fidgety, busy-fingered interferers in the lives of the citizenry and they don't force their way into the consciousness of the voter- except at election times, which is fair enough.  

Blogger The Hitch said... 3:21 pm

mexico has very tough gun control laws , although i read that the locals pay zero attention to them  

Blogger The Hitch said... 3:22 pm

A bit like south london (+:  

Anonymous hg said... 9:59 pm

Tobacco smoked, sniffed or chewed is a private pleasure, not to be interfered with when privately enjoyed (like so many other of life 's rewards).

But it seems a bit hard on the Lord Protector to give his title to Brown. Because:

Brown's Scottish.

And apart for that, he's run away from every confrontation, political or anything else you care to name.

He's deprived the army of funding while co-responsible for sending it to war on two fronts.

And apart from stripping the military of funds and equipment, he has regularly expressed his disdain for them.

He's undermined the Union for the last 10 years.

Brown is an anti-Cromwell ; not that I carry a torch for Oliver, but fair's fair.  

Anonymous Benedict White said... 12:19 am

good article Croydonian, however:
- Should we tax cigarettes more?

Why not, it is shown to reduce smoking gradually, and has been government policy for decades.

- How can we stop smuggling of illegal cigarettes into our pubs and communities?

Reduce taxes on cigarettes in line with the countries from which they are smuggled.

After all working class people who work or live in areas with lots of other working class people will always know someone who can get them cheap fags.

What is more it is not a particularly organised crime, it does not need to be. A £30 flight, two suitcases. ans a knowledge of how crap customs and excise are at checking people, at particular times of day, and as they say, Bob is your Aunties live in lover!

So there you go. Two virtually mutually contradictory wishes one following the other.  

Blogger Newmania said... 2:25 am

rats sorry I miseed the fun here C.

People stop doing something when they feel they don't want to do it any more.
Its 2.30PM...I wonder Verity  

Blogger nsfl said... 4:03 pm

Very good fisking. I believe that there might be a couple of other deceits worth exposing, too.

QUOTE: "Should patches and nicotine gum be made cheaper, for example free of tax?"

Is Brown absolutely sure that reducing the VAT to zero on these products is within his gift? We know it's the EU that determines the minimum VAT level and we know, for example, that he can't lower the 5% that's levied on condoms and female sanitary products to 0%. I'd be surprised if he could make nicotine patches zero rated.

QUOTE: "We use hard-hitting labels [on fag packets]"

Because the EU Commissars made you do so  

Blogger Croydonian said... 4:28 pm

NSFL - Devil's K has taken up the baton and gone to work on the tax etc measures. I think I had run out of steam by the time I got to the end.

Broon's claiming of the credit for the health warning is indeed staggeringly mendacious.  

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