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« Another Englishman in New York | Main | Labour loses another lifelong supporter »

Monteith: "I wonder how I ever was a Conservative"

Brian%20Monteith100.jpg Before Tories start celebrating (see post below), a former Conservative MSP has added his take to the David Cameron story (HERE). Writing in the Edinburgh Evening News, former Forest spokesman Brian Monteith, now policy director for The Free Society, comments:

There are days when I wonder how I ever was a Conservative. This Monday was one of them. Dawn Primarolo, the English Health Secretary announced she was considering banning cigarettes from being displayed in shops.

This prim paternalist believes that kids are seduced into smoking by the serried ranks of fag packets on walls – why cigarettes should have such an effect when shelves of toothpaste or condoms don't make them clean their teeth or practice protective sex hasn't occurred to her all-knowing mind. If this wasn't bad enough, David Cameron then said the idea is "worth looking at".

If the Conservative leader can't see that making tobacco smoking more mysterious, more rebellious, more unconventional will also make it more desirable amongst the young then he's in the wrong job. Cannabis smoking has grown immensely while being illegal and without the benefit of shop displays – just ask the question why David. I look at the political parties and I really, really struggle to say there's any that will get my vote next time round.

I have known Brian for 25 years. During that time he has never wavered from the Conservative cause and his political CV makes impressive reading. From his days as chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students to his nine-year stint as MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, Brian has frequently been the most outspoken Tory on the block, always taking the fight to the opposition and never holding back.

The idea that someone so committed to the Tory cause is having second thoughts about voting for the party should give even Dave "It's worth looking at" Cameron pause for thought. The Conservatives may be ahead in the polls but come the election they will need every vote they can get. Governments can lose general elections but it rarely happens by default. It needs a strong Opposition - as in 1979 and 1997 - so people have a genuine choice. Like Brian, I'm not sure that Cameron represents anything radically different. And why would we vote for more of the same?

Reader Comments (21)

I guess Cameron and the Tories' strategy is to not raise their head above the parapit so Labour and the vested interests of the people payrolled by the government, eg ASH will get on their high horses and create friction. I am prepared to believe Cameron when he says he does not like bans in his interview in The Publican. For Labour to do a U turn would be politically difficult and people like Donaldson, ASH, CRUK etc would kick up a major fuss if the ban was amended. I think we have to comfort ourselves that the Tories (typically people like me) are broadly sympathetic and if their majority is big enough at the next general election we maybe able to influence the debate for the 2010 review. We have to bear in mind that the Tories voted 2-1 against the ban. If you look at the manifesto from 2005 I have just downloded from ASH's web site, the Tories were in 2005 going for a voluntary solution. They may well remain our best hope and I am not here just banging the Tories' drum, promise. This is from 2005 and is posted on ASH's website on the various party's attitudes to banning smoking in public places.

"However, a letter to the Smoking Control Network from Andrew Lansley MP, Shadow Health Secretary, dated 8th April, states

"You specifically raised the question of smoking in public places. Within three years and before legislation could be implemented, we believe that the industry could and would deliver a voluntary code removing smoking from up to 80% of pub space. The recent announcement by the pub chain, J.D. Wetherspoon, to ban smoking two years ahead of the Government's legislative ban indicates the industry's willingness to achieve this solution.

Of course, if, after public houses have been given a real opportunity to deliver a smoke-free environment for all those who want it, [sic] to remove smoking from where staff are working, and in all areas to which children have access, we would reassess the priority and the need for legislative action. I do not regard the Government's White Paper proposals as valuable or desirable, (smoking ban) they may lead to perverse results, with a substantial number of smoking pubs and clubs especially in deprived areas. I hope this clarifies our position.

March 29, 2008 at 19:40 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

Quick PS I do know how to use the possessive noun, ie Tory's.

March 29, 2008 at 20:17 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

I think you are right Dave. As you say, you only have to look at the figures, of who voted for an outright ban, and who voted against it,

I think a lot of people are not seeing the wood for the trees, they are so angry at the smoking ban that they are letting their judgement become clouded over this one single issue.

Of course we want the smoking ban amended, but we also want freedom back in our country, and we need a credulous Government to give us that.

I keep seeing David Cameron being ridiculed, his name not even being used properly. This is so juvenile, and it plays right into the left wing, anti smoking, fanatics hands perfectly.

I have said this time and time again, we must let the Conservatives know what we want, not just in the form of a smoking ban amendment, but a complete overhaul of the laws that Labour have brought in during the last 10 years which restrict our freedoms.

We need to tell them that there are between 15 and 20 million smokers in the country, plus millions more who our freedoms restored. If they promise to look at, and act upon our requests, then they can count on our votes.

March 30, 2008 at 11:28 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

Tell you what Peter, if you can get a clear statement out of David Cameron that he and his party will amend this vindictive ban, F2C will do all in its power to campaign on their behalf. I know that if we had solid evidence that any major political party will amend the ban, my members will step away from their keyboards en masse, and hit the streets.

Every time I have heard the man speak about the ban, it is to support it in its present form. Worse, this gullible tool would further extend restrictions. If we vote for him it would be akin to turkeys voting for two Christmases a year.

Thanks, but no thanks.

March 30, 2008 at 12:17 | Unregistered CommenterColin Grainger

Christ Colin, you sound almost as bad as the anti-smoking lobby, with their junk statements which they put out. I never believe them, and I am very sorry to say that I do not believe what you have just written

You say that every time you have heard David Cameron speak about the ban, it is to support it in its present form. Worse, this gullible fool would further extend restrictions.
To be perfectly fair Colin, I haven't read very much at all, about what he has said regarding the ban in its present form. Has he really said, on record, that he supports it?

But, the most doubtful part of your post, is where you say that he would extend restrictions.
Please tell me where and when David Cameron ever said this?

March 30, 2008 at 12:45 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

Christ Peter, you sound almost as bad as a Conservative spin-meister, ever more desperate to get your party elected.

Let's face it: you are in a distinct minority with your belief that Blue Labour would do anything with this ban.

The further restrictions I refer to are of course the hiding of legal products under the counter "for the children". He said this only days ago in an interview with The Publican.

Why don't you please highlight even one occasion where Cameron said anything against the ban?

And, pedant that I am, I said "tool", not fool. I do not think the man is foolish. I do think he is being manipulated though.

They all are, apart from those free-thinkers that voted against a smoker ban.

March 30, 2008 at 18:15 | Unregistered CommenterColin Grainger

Peter: I am afraid Colin is right, this is from a couple of days ago in The Publican. My first post was made here in light of it. I am basically giving Cameron the benefit of the doubt, but he is in last chance saloon. If you go to Go to the Forum, News, News only, page 136 and I have posted my letter to Cameron.

“I don’t like bans. I don’t like the hunting ban, I don’t like smacking bans and I don’t like smoking bans.

"I’m just not a banner. But you know, I think the country has moved on, and people have accepted the smoking ban.”

March 30, 2008 at 18:16 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

This is from todays People:

Cameron's U-turn on ciggie ban
By Tom Carlin

Tory leader David Cameron has performed an astonishing U-turn on the smoking ban and now supports it.

The 41-year-old former smoker is even backing plans to curb the display of fags in shops.

Mr Cameron was originally against the ban on smoking in public places which came in last July.

But he said: "We lost the argument and we've moved on. We are all better off because we are not smoking.

"But for a lot of people it's a big change, because going to the pub for a pint and a fag was part of life.

"I don't like bans. I don't like the hunting ban, I don't like smacking bans and I don't like smoking bans. But I think the country has moved on."

The link:

Tell us Peter, does this look like a man ready to amend the ban?

He bloody loves it. And mostly, it seems, because it makes his life easier now that he has quit smoking.

March 30, 2008 at 18:31 | Unregistered CommenterColin Grainger

It seems to me that, maybe, a critical mass is developing in favour of using our votes to promote freedom. I hope so. I use the word ‘freedom’ rather than ‘smoking’ because I believe the campaign against tobacco has become an outward and visible sign of an instinct among some to control, dictate and bully in many ways. That instinct is the real enemy, always looking for the opportunity to take over. If, at last, there is some movement towards resistance, I suppose we must be on guard against some very dirty propaganda tricks, though, at the moment, I can’t imagine what they will be. The man in the street can triumph. I remember 1971, when the general election result went against the predictions of all the pundits of the day. But don’t let’s argue the politics of that. Simply, the right-on thinkers of Fleet Street, Westminster, Hampstead and Chelsea were wrong. I don’t doubt that if the campaign against the present rule of health and social fascists succeeds, there will then, in time, latch on to it a new generation of power freaks looking to be on the winning side, and the cause will be distorted in some new way. But that’s the way of the world and it’s in the future. For the moment, all success to the current resistance.

March 30, 2008 at 18:34 | Unregistered CommenterNorman

A true Tory leader would be appalled at the spiralling business losses occurring on a daily basis throughout the UK. A true Tory leader would be appalled at the loss of civil liberties.

The truth is, there is not a true leader of the Tory Party nor even a Tory Party to lead as they no longer represent the views of their former grassroots supporters. I don't recognize them as Tories at all.

March 30, 2008 at 20:38 | Unregistered Commenterali

Yes, I've written to my (Tory) MP about the issue and recently e-mailed his office drawing attention to the current correspondence on this website.

March 30, 2008 at 20:49 | Unregistered CommenterNorman

Norman, if you get a chance you may want to include this thread from F2C.

March 31, 2008 at 12:50 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

Colin, you are one of the last people that I want to argue with. This is a time when we all need to be getting closer and forming a tight alliance with each other, if we are to do anything positive about this ban amended.

I have noticed over the past few weeks, maybe months, however, that the political arguing amongst us, is getting stronger. A sudden surge of anti Conservative rhetoric, especially directed towards David Cameron, has sprung up. At the same time, coincidentally, a surge of support for UKIP has also raised its head. But, I have to ask myself, is this really such a coincidence?

At the moment, the Conservatives are doing pretty well in the opinion polls, and I wouldn't think that they are exactly fishing for new voters, i.e. disenfranchised smokers, but on the other hand, UKIP seem to be on the slippery slopes of the political world, hunting for every potential voter they can get, which leads me to believe that they are latching themselves onto the smokers, offering big bait, in the form of an amendment to this bill, in return for votes, which I personally, do not think they can deliver.

All it takes is a few carefully placed UKIP representatives, using various login names, to infiltrate these, and the other pro-smoking forums, and to force feed their propaganda onto the general public, as though it were facts, and before you know it, we have an epidemic of UKIP believers on here. And as we all know, that is a well known tact which has been used by the anti-smoking lobby for some time now, and which works exceedingly well with the vast majority of the populace.

I might of course be wrong on this, it could even be the anti-smoking lobby themselves who are infiltrating, and causing strife amongst us. After all, the more we argue with each other, the less likely we are to come up with a serious battle plan with which to fight them with are we?

You say that I am ever more desperate to get my party elected, and that I am in a distinct minority with my belief that "Blue Labour" would do anything with this ban.

I'll tell you what I am ever more desperate to do, and that is to get rid of this Labour Government, and the only positive way that I see of doing it, is to vote Conservative. Your statement that I am in a minority, regarding my beliefs might be true. But I see no big shame in that either, as I have been a part of a minority group, as a smoker, ever since Labour introduced this law last July.

I have seen posters on here, stating that they would vote for anyone who promised to overturn this ban. I just cannot fathom these people out. Are these people honestly saying that if the BNP for instance, offered them that promise, that they would vote for them as well? Would they vote for the Raving Loony Party if they offered it to them?

And from what I can see, these parties seem to have about as much to offer as UKIP does. In fact in the 2005 elections, the BNP polled more votes than UKIP on a number of occasions, and in another constituency, UKIP only just managed to beat the Loony Party. If you want to see these figures have a look here:

What I am saying, is that we need more than a one hit wonder, jump on any bandwagon party to beat Labour. We need a party with policies on everything, which is exactly what the Conservatives have. Everyone needs to remember that the vast majority of the Conservatives voted against a total smoking ban in enclosed places, so we still have a chance of making inroads to them, when and if they do get back into power.

You ended you post Colin, by asking me why don't I please highlight even one occasion where Cameron said anything against the ban?

OK Colin, here is exactly that: "David Cameron, the Tory leader, will vote against any form of a ban on smoking. "David has always been against a ban," said a Tory official. "He regards it as a freedom of choice issue." Http://

March 31, 2008 at 13:50 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood


Your link doesn't work. But I am guessing from the tone of his comments that this statement is prior to the ban. In the end he didn't vote, as his wife was having a baby. He was at the hospital when the vote took place.

Please don't see this as an argument. I have always welcomed your views, both here and on the F2C forum. They are forthright, and whether by luck, or by design, they stimulate debate.

Perhaps I have been unfair, or misjudged your statements. Perhaps the Tories are the right party as two thirds voted against the ban.

One thing I am absolutely certain about: I trust none of them. UKIP recently took Labour to court over their failed manifesto promises and they lost their case. The judge ruled that political parties are "not legally obliged to deliver manifesto promises". How wonderful for them. The judges ruling means that any party can say anything they want to get you to vote for them. And guess what? Most parties will probably use the ruling to tell outrageous lies to garner votes.

Like it or not, Britain has changed. The topic de jeur is immigration, and the continual erosion of our national identities. I think this, more than the smoking ban, is driving people to parties like UKIP and, God forbid, the BNP.

I am not asking for much. I want the government of the day, whoever they may be, to listen. They not only ignore us, they ignore their OWN polls when it comes to smoking, and restrictions. I see no evidence that David Cameron will listen any more than Blair or Brown did.

I understand your point of view entirely Peter. I really do. It has a certain amount of logic but I am far from convinced.

At least my members are getting a response from their MP's. Yes, it is a standard template letter, but the shame is that it is the SAME letter from all parties. It just has a different logo at the top of the page.

In my ward (Banff and Buchan), I am neck-deep in SNP politicians. My MP is Alex Salmond (First Minister), and my MSP is Stewart Stephenson (Transport Minister), and neither of them will engage with me. This despite terrible losses to our hospitality industry. Over 400 pubs lost, over 30 bingo halls, and the damage continues as if there is nothing to see. Pubs still close at the rate of one per day.

I have lost all faith in politicians, and the political process. Unlike England, Scotland has no Upper House. Decisions affecting millions of us are made by small committees and when we complain they simply ignore us.

I do see the wider picture: whoever we elect still has to have the nous to run our country, and Labour really have to go, but are the Tories going to help or hinder our cause?

They have one thing in common with Labour: they aren't listening either.

March 31, 2008 at 14:44 | Unregistered CommenterColin Grainger

Maybe if all the political parties standing knew for absolutely certain that they would NOT receive the vote of any smoker or sympathetic non smoker unless they promised an amendment of the smoking ban, it would concentrate their minds enormously. It would also make the task of the pollsters impossible. That too would be a serious cause for their alarm.

March 31, 2008 at 15:51 | Unregistered CommenterNorman

I would expect the Labour manifesto to include a commitment to extending the ban to include

- private homes where a child is present;
- open public areas within 50/100 metres of a school or hospital;
- giving local authorities power to ban smoking in all open public spaces.

It's worth recalling that the present ban went further than the 2005 Labour manifesto commitment, as a result of a back-bench revolt.

Smokers represent 20% of the electorate; anti-smokers perhaps 40%: most people who give up tend to become fanatical "antis" (for the very good reason that they still experience cravings).

April 2, 2008 at 17:54 | Unregistered CommenterInnocent Abroad
might be old news to many on this forum and I can't and won't vouch for the validity of their arguments, but it's food for thought. Maybe we'll see the day when ciggies are given out by the NHS {but don't hold your breath.

April 2, 2008 at 19:38 | Unregistered Commentercolin munro

Peter: I do not think that UKIP are deliberately targeting these pages, if they are I am always open to new ideas, I do not believe we are being manipulated. One piece of information which partly backs you up is that Nigel Farage the UKIP Leader was at Simon's p1ss up at Bosdale's. If I was leader of UKIP this is what you have to do I guess. Where I may diverge is that the reason I believe that UKIP are doing well is that a. they would amend the ban and b. Tory members like me are very unhappy with the way they are handling the smoking ban. I guess there is a vacuum filled by them.

April 2, 2008 at 20:14 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

Innocent Abroad: Would you like a detailed reply to your post, or shall we just go off and invade Poland? The Waffen SS of ASH can metaphorically mop up the Jews, communists and homosexuals afterwards (fatties, drinkers and motorists to you and me). FYI most studies show children of smokers have a reduced incidence of cancer and asthma, medical study URLs on request.

April 2, 2008 at 20:26 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

Um - wasn't Innocent Abroad saying he would expect in the sense of "worried that" the things he describes are what LABOUR are going to do, rather than that's what HE would like to do??? That's how I read his post anyhow.

April 4, 2008 at 8:37 | Unregistered CommenterRose Whiteley

wanted for treason blair prestcot brown straw flint reid hewitt collaborators and there enforcers the price is working stubbing out blairs legacy and labours war of mass destruction imposed on liberty respect tolerance equality identity compassion democracy integrity united kingdom who gave who the right to impose persecution bullying abuse and the deaths of innocent people under their controlled democracy are traitors have no elusions they are accountable for this so this is your better united kingdom as in war you pay the price for liberty its not what we want its what thay gave in memory of anthony mcdermott who was bullied and persecuted into suicide and hanged himself and all others so this is your new healthy united kingdom to all parties protect demands liberty and movments reinstated no liberty no peace lest they forgot no compromise this is an afront to our forfathers from protect

May 6, 2010 at 21:01 | Unregistered Commentermaurice sutton

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