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« Ways and means to a free society | Main | Nuts about the smoking ban »
Tuesday
Jul082008

Kerry McCarthy - an update

KerryMcCarthy-100.jpgWhen I blogged yesterday I intended it to be my last post on the subject of Kerry McCarthy. To recap: the member of parliament for Bristol East wrote about the smoking ban on her blog on June 29 but I only mentioned it here (on July 3) when I discovered that she had published a second post on July 1 in which she made specific reference to Forest and linked our champagne tea party at the House of Commons to Libby Brooks' class-based critique in the Guardian.

Not unreasonably, I feel, I invited readers and supporters of Forest to respond. Come Saturday night there were 200+ comments on her blog. (To put this in perspective, most of her posts attract no comments at all.) On Sunday she responded to those comments with a further post. To my mind, we had stretched this particular thread as far as it would go. So yesterday afternoon, to wrap things up, I sent her a rather cheery email:

Dear Kerry,

Thank you for your response to the comments that appeared on your blog. For your information, you may be interested to see [HERE] the original blog post that encouraged people to write to you.

The reason [your] post came to our attention - unlike your previous posts on smoking - was the reference to Forest. I have now added THIS post:

I won't go over all the issues again, but I hope we have demonstrated that, in some quarters at least, there remains a great deal of anger and resentment at the extent of the smoking ban, which I don't think will go away this side of an election.

In our experience, based on thousands of emails, blog posts, telephone calls and letters, most of the anger comes from "lifelong Labour supporters" who say that they "will never vote Labour again" as a result of the ban.

They may change their tune after a few years of Conservative government, but it indicates the deep sense of betrayal that many natural Labour voters feel as a result of legislation that went much further than promised in the 2005 Labour manifesto.

Should you be interested:

1. A short video of the recent Forest/Boisdale party is on Friction TV HERE:
2. An equally short video of the Forest reception at the House of Commons can be viewed HERE:
3. A report of the HoC event is on our Free Society blog HERE:

Boisdale, I should add, is NOT a private members' club as you stated more than once. It's a very public bar and restaurant where you would be very welcome to join us for lunch or dinner at any time.

Kind regards,

Simon Clark
Director, Forest

To my surprise (I wasn't expecting a reply), I received the following email which I reproduce in full:

I think it's quite clear that your strategy is to mobilise supporters to hound those who have publicly supported the ban, with often quite abusive emails, until they decide that it is simply not worth the hassle of saying anything in public about it again.
 
As some of those posting comments said, the normal response is for the subject of their attention to post a statement and then close down the blog. It says a lot for your commitment to free speech that you encourage such behaviour.

To be honest, I was a little taken aback. My second impulse was to ignore it. My third reaction was to draft this post and sit on it overnight. This morning I thought, "To hell with it."

So, let's get this right. It's OK for elected representatives like Kerry McCarthy to praise the smoking ban (and imply that Forest is an elitist organisation), but it's not OK for Forest to alert people to her comments in order that they can give her a different perspective. In her eyes, that amounts to hounding.

Worse, she claims that "it's quite clear that your strategy is to mobilise supporters to hound those who have publicly supported the ban, with often quite abusive emails [my emphasis]". If McCarthy had bothered to read the posts on this blog she would know that I have gone out of my way to ask people NOT to send abusive emails.

Yes, a few went a bit too far, but the overwhelming majority were well within the bounds of civil debate. She should see what we have to put up with from anti-smokers. One local councillor - from Bristol, funnily enough - once sent me a scrawled note declaring "I hope you die of cancer". He's not the only one.

To top it all, she suggests that we "encourage" people to target blogs which then have to be shut down. Excuse me?! Is it too much to ask that she provide evidence of a single blog or website that has been closed down as a result of our alleged "behaviour"?

What we have here is an MP rattled by the fact that 200 people have had the audacity to take issue with her comments on an open blog - so she shoots the messenger.

Free speech? Don't make me laugh. The anti-smoking lobby doesn't know the meaning of it.

PS. If you have anything to add on this topic, please post your comment here, not on Kerry McCarthy's blog. We have made our point. There is nothing to be gained by posting further comments there. Let it lie.

Reader Comments (43)

I've noticed on numerous occasions that, whenever the younger NuLabour MPs are challenged on their beliefs or actions, they become petulant. I find it extraordinary and disturbing. It smacks of arrogance and the authoritarianism that's become associated with NuLabour.

Oh well....only two more years to go.

July 8, 2008 at 11:14 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

Just typical, likes to dish it out but can't take it.

July 8, 2008 at 11:32 | Unregistered CommenterBlad Tolstoy

Well done Simon.

Politicians ? They are all the same unfortunately now. The brave ones are rare.
I take it thats the end of Ms McCarthy's debate. She knows best obviously.

July 8, 2008 at 11:44 | Unregistered CommenterPeter James

I think there's a fundamental point that has NOT been made.

Kerry is left with the same view that she held at the outset, which is that Forest 'members' have been orchestrated to do Forest's bidding.

She has no concept of the fact that many of us are just ordinary bods, and not 'members', who simply read various blogs and forums in order to find some balance in a most unbalanced society. She seems unable to comprehend that us ordinary bods are free to choose to comment on open, public blogs and forums of our own free will.

It's as though if one disagrees with the Labour Party world view, there must be a conspiracy behind it, when in fact, it is just a result of natural curiosity on a subject of interest, that happened to lead to her (supposedly open, public) blog.

July 8, 2008 at 11:49 | Unregistered CommenterStruggling Spirit

Yes, Kerry doesn't want to be too bright as that would cause her to challenge her cherished beliefs.

July 8, 2008 at 11:59 | Unregistered CommenterBlad Tolstoy

Good work Simon, I think we made out point. Call me naive but politicians having to put up with dissent and majority dissent must be hard for them to put up with. A quick glance at her blog is full of lick spittle, sychophantic, shameless, self congratulatory brown nosing. I particluarly object to the "abusive" nature comment. One or two were a little over enthusiastic but most were considered and erudite. I must say I am feeling a little more optimistic.

July 8, 2008 at 12:14 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

It is quite possible that the obscene comments could have come from people who do not read Forest. Here is a comment from a well known 'smoke hater' who visits the Forest web site and who replied to an 82 year old, who did not like going out in the rain.

David from New Mills,Pleasantville, U.K. 08/07/2008 12:04:40
#18/19.
Has Brian considered euthanasia?

This is on a News Scotsman web site regarding lock ins. Some anti-smokers can be very nasty.

July 8, 2008 at 12:26 | Unregistered Commenterchas

Typical response of a Labour politician by stifling debate. Like her colleagues, she knows she is right so why should she listen to any other viewpoints from the great unwashed. Her boss is no better. While the country is struggling under mortgage,fuel,food and general cost of living increases he is in Japan blaming us for the worldwide food crisis. Because we buy a loaf of bread on a 'buy one get one free' deal and order chips and rice with our curry, we are throwing out food worth £8 per week! Clearly our fault again and nothing to do with him and his mate Bush invading sovereign states to steal their oil driving up the cost of transportation. Nothing to do with America stopping exporting food as they need to grow biofuels. Nothing to do with market manipulation to force consumers into accepting GM food.

Maybe we are lucky to have politicians like Ms Mc Carthy and Mr Brown to guide us the right direction and ensure we do not have to make up our own minds.

July 8, 2008 at 13:04 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Peoples

What a staggeringly puerile and naive response from Ms McCarthy! I know I've said it before but I can't believe the extremely poor standard of those selected by Labour to govern.

Was Bristol East a seat set aside for an all women shortlist? If so, I venture to suggest that's another Labour policy that has shown strong evidence of failure.

July 8, 2008 at 13:40 | Unregistered CommenterMartin Cullip

So, let's get this right. It's OK for elected representatives like Kerry McCarthy to praise the smoking ban (and imply that Forest is an elitist organisation), but it's not OK for Forest to alert people to her comments in order that they can give her a different perspective. In her eyes, that amounts to hounding.

If Kerry McCarthy thinks that was 'hounding', I wonder what she'll think when she really does start getting hounded.

Here is someone who voted to eject the smokers - Labour's core supporters - of this country from their pubs and onto the streets, shattering communities and turning smokers into an underclass. Such people deserve to be hounded from office.

What's puzzling, as I dug up last night, is that she was well aware before she voted for a complete ban that working class pubs would want to retain smoking, even if the wine bars of Clifton might not. And who voted for her? The working classes of Bristol East, not the middle classes of Clifton in Bristol West.

I think the Labour party has lost contact with its core supporters and its core values, and they're going to pay very heavily for it. If they lose Glasgow East I bet it'll in part be because angry smokers turn their backs on Labour. Today's Telegraph quotes John Haldane: "Many of the urban middle class who support New Labour … are detached from traditional communities, and celebrate their rejection of conformity to older social norms." Or, to put it another way, how many traditional Labour voters are Vegans like Kerry McCarthy?

July 8, 2008 at 13:56 | Unregistered Commenteridlex

I would like to reply to HC on Ms McCarthy's blog who was the only dissenting voice and came in to "add balance on the issue". BALANCE? Does HC not know that the smoking issue has been a one-sided argument for far too long and it is only thanks to the internet, and organisations like Forest, that we smokers and pro-choice supporters are finally able to have our voices heard?

HC also seems to wonder what all the fuss is about and why we waste our time campaigning when "there are many more important freedom issues like the 42 day detention which is something that most of us can agree on".

Perhaps HC doesn't realise that there are many, many campaigners on that issue - indeed David Davis is fighting a by-election on it - but who else will speak up for smokers and dare to demand that we are treated like other human beings. We ask only for tolerance and respect. Is that really too much? Perhaps HC and Ms McCarthy think it is.

I think the smoking ban has motivated many of us - which is certainly true for me - to be political in a way that we were not before. Before this unjust legislation, I was quite happy to let the elected policians run the country and fight for injustice wherever it reared it's ugly head while I got on peacefully with my own life.

I campaign because I'm no longer able to get on with my own life even if what I do harms no-one else. .. and that is the bone of contention between pro-choicers, who say there is evidence to back this up, and anti-smokers who are even more selective about what they believe.

Smokers did not make smoking an issue. We have simply been backed into a corner and fight only to defend ourselves from slanderous accusations that we are suicidal serial killers.

When govt can enter our lives and tell us what we can and can't do and make us so miserable over a simple tiny thing like smoking then it sets alarm bells ringing on the fate of freedom for future generations who may be denied those pleasures that we take for granted now.

I've been asked if I really want a future where my grandchildren might grow up and smoke. I'd rather they grew up in a free world where they can choose the kind of life they want to live, smoking or not.

I'm more fearful of them growing up in a future where they might have to hide in fear of having their own children taken away from them because they choose to smoke. That is an idea currently being floated but if it isn't shot down in flames now, there is a very real risk that children of the future could be taken away from adoring parents and loving homes by social services because of the all health-hype propaganda that equates smokers to child abusers.

The fight is not about the right to smoke. The fight is for the freedom to live our lives how we want without interference from Govt and immature, silly politicians like Ms McCarthy.

Well done, Simon, for alerting us to her blog and giving us the opportunity to be heard. Could she honestly say that if we hadn't contacted her in the hundreds, that she would even have bothered to post a reply to one dissenting smoker's voice. I very much doubt it.

You were right to tell us, and you handled the whole affair in a most professional manner. I hope we didn't let you down. Thank you again.

July 8, 2008 at 14:06 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

The problem would appear to be obvious. Kerry and her cohorts believe that public opinion is AGAINST smoking. With appalling adverts and continued propaganda the masses will turn all smokers into social pariahs. Now they are not discriminating are they, as this would be wrong, so to use Kerry's language, let's mobilise the masses to exclude smokers. With recession set to deepen people will become more political, many people will realise they have been thinking about just one thing, MONEY. Let's hope people find the old values of inclusion rather than exclusion from socities. Let's restore values of freedom and not control. We can only hope.

July 8, 2008 at 14:26 | Unregistered CommenterBoris

Pat, I thought that HC was magnificently demolished by Basil Brown on 07 July 2008 19:46. Here's my own take:

HC said: "Personally I can think of far more profound civil rights which are being eroded and would you not be better of getting hot under the collar over 42 day detention, which is probably an issue we could agree on."

Sorry, but for a smoker like me, there isn't anything more profound than a ban which has evicted me from my pub, and separated me from the community to which I once belonged, and which has me thinking that this simply isn't my country any more. 42 day detention is something that is going to happen to terrorist suspects, and not - I hope - to me personally. But the smoking ban is something that is happening to me personally every day, every time I walk past a pub on a rainy day and wish I could go in and have a pint and a few cigarettes like I used to do. It's only when I'm sitting comfortably in a pub, and all's well in my own life, that I can start to think about terrorist suspect detainees. And these days, all is never well in my life.

HC writes elsewhere: "So what if some smokers are inconvenienced?"

He seems to think that the only effect of the smoking ban is that smokers have to nip outside for a smoke now and then. It's far, far deeper than this. The real effect of the smoking ban has been to turn smokers into social pariahs, into a despised underclass who can be refused employment, refused medical treatment, and indeed refused any voice at all by a mass media that doesn't report on them. The smoking ban has created an enormous division in our society between so-called 'normal' non-smokers and the now 'denormalised' smokers. It didn't exist before.

It is quite simply the most staggering act of cultural vandalism in a century or more. It has torn up the social contract, and told smokers that they simply don't count any more. It's going to take years to repair the damage.

No, sorry, but the smoking ban is far more important than 42 day detention. I know it looks like it's trivial. But it isn't.

July 8, 2008 at 15:20 | Unregistered Commenteridlex

Kerry wields the anti's primary weapon (distortion of the truth) with reckless abandon in her reply to you.
Far from "mobilizing" the masses, you merely suggested we have a look and comment - hardly unreasonable. But on the subject, pressure groups mobilizing to give their opinion as much oomph as possible when directed at politicians is more commonly known as "democracy", she should get used to that, or not, what with the election looming.

As for the tone of the comments, I confess to not have read all of them, but you comment as to what pro-choice advocates have to put up with is altogether true and that's before we get into the deliberate smear campaigns where an anti "identifies" a pro-choicer as a tobacco funded troll and spreads the message as far as they can.

July 8, 2008 at 15:27 | Unregistered CommenterRTS

I completely agree with your post,Idlex. I hadn't seen Basil Brown's comments in response to HC's point and when I just looked I couldn't find one particularly about the reason why people like us fight for choice. I think there are just too many posts on the blog to trawl through now, encouraging as it is to see so much dissent in one public place, although I've noted and read them as they have come in.

How strange it is - I had it in mind that HC was a woman. You refer to HC as "he". I guess we'll never know!

July 8, 2008 at 16:30 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Thanks to Idlex and the formidable Pat Nurse, concise, elegant and erudite to a fault.

'No, sorry, but the smoking ban is far more important than 42 day detention. I know it looks like it's trivial. But it isn't.'

I have to say that I think they're equally important. Both require urgent and determined resistance as they express precisely the same vile, profoundly un-British mindset.

42 days may be directed at terrorist suspects now, but so was the infamous RIPA, and look where that's ended up.

I don't want to end up with 42 days chokey because some little squit on Bogborough Borough Council alleges I'm guilty of 'envirocrime' for not de-fleaing my cat or some such balls.

July 8, 2008 at 16:53 | Unregistered CommenterMac the Knife

Do the Bristol Evening Post and/or the Western Daily Press know what has been going on on her blog? You never know; on a slow news day ....

July 8, 2008 at 16:58 | Unregistered CommenterMat Coward

It's hard to sum up Kerry's blog. I can only think of a child that's had their sweets taken away.

July 8, 2008 at 16:59 | Unregistered CommenterBoris

Well done Simon. We smokers dont seem to have a voice anymore, but we protest quietly by staying at home and improving our homecooking while having a cigarette and a few drinks, bought cheaply at the local supermarket.
My smoker friends, my husband and myself have saved a fortune in this economic climate which is why we do not openly protest.
We have found our own solution and saved money.

July 8, 2008 at 17:15 | Unregistered Commentercarol capeling

Mat. Slightly OT, but I've been enjoying slowly reading your opus Forty Lashes.

I liked this bit: We’ll leave the magic numbers now, just pausing to enjoy what is possibly the most useful smoking-related statistic I’ve ever encountered: “A person on 25 cigarettes a day for 50 years will have smoked the equivalent of one cigarette more than 22 miles long.” (Independent, 25 Mar 93.)

I wrote about it here. They got the length of the cigarette wrong. It should be "more than 22 km", and not "more than 22 miles".

July 8, 2008 at 17:25 | Unregistered Commenteridlex

Matt Coward asks: "Do the Bristol Evening Post and/or the Western Daily Press know what has been going on on her blog? You never know; on a slow news day" ....

I have already stated, Matt, that I have informed the Bristol Evening Post, and I invited others to imform other papers.

July 8, 2008 at 17:57 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

Something that keeps bugging me is that a number of politicians, when challenged, state that their support for a total ban stems from the loss of a close relative to a (so-called) 'smoking-related disease'.

Surely, carrying that logic to it's natural conclusion, this means that they would have no qualms about throwing said beloved relative outside in all weathers.


July 8, 2008 at 18:10 | Unregistered CommenterStruggling Spirit

If Kerry McCarthy thinks she has een "hounded" by pro-choicers because of her unquestioning support for the smoking ban, what do you think has happened to the millions of smokers in this country? They have been constantly "hounded" by government propaganda, exclusion from indoor venues, no-smoking signs on every building, employers threatening the sack if you have a smoke break etc etc. Give me a break - this woman has no concept of the word hounding. Perhaps, if she reflected on this episode and imagine what smokers have been subjected to over the last five years, she just, may, understand our strong feelings on this matter.

July 8, 2008 at 18:32 | Unregistered CommenterBill C

I think it suprised Kerry that so many would write. The points made were excellent. Her reply was lacking.

One heartening thing, there were good points made on a range of issues, supported by well researched evidence.

One disheartening thing, the points made were in the main ignored. No substancial evidence was provided for her POV and there was no real evidence that she had taken on board the comments made. Surely the onus is on the proposer to present their case? If it was sound there should have been no problem.

In the follow up thread she clearly wasn't aware that Patients can be completely banned from smoking in certain mental health facilities.

Maybe the thinking is 'give it time they will get over it' as this seems to have worked before. This time though I doubt it. As the economy tanks the reduction in the customer base (or customer pounds spent) for certain premises is going to have a major effect.

west
----

July 8, 2008 at 20:23 | Unregistered Commenterwest2

Don't you just get tired of being told that someone's relative died of x-y-z illness and he/she was a smoker?

We are now so brainwashed that no matter what someone dies of if they, or their parents et al, once smoked, then the death is pronounced smoking related.

The daftest statistic I ever heard was some years ago when it was triumphantly annouced that one-third of respiratory related deaths were due to smoking and that one-third of the population smoked.


July 9, 2008 at 14:27 | Unregistered CommenterMargot

"I think it's quite clear that your strategy is to mobilise supporters to hound those who have publicly supported the ban, with often quite abusive emails, until they decide that it is simply not worth the hassle of saying anything in public about it again"

What a good idea- thanks Kerry!.:-)

Seriously though, Abusive posts aside, the pro-choice lobby should become a movement and apply this sort of pressure. If we dont fight back hard, we will remain ostracised and reduced to muted whingeing on blogs such as these.
Which MP is next................?

July 9, 2008 at 15:15 | Unregistered Commenterandy

Andy, you might check out Freedom2Choose, is pro-choice, particularly in respect of smoking. Lots of great essays there and a very active forum..

July 9, 2008 at 17:06 | Unregistered Commenteridlex

PM's Question Tine today. David Clelland Labour MP for Tyne Bridge who voted AGAINST the ban, asked that there be a meeting to discuss the decline of working men's clubs and other member's clubs. There will be a meeting which will include the Minister of State for Local Government. I believe that may include John Healey MP and Hazel Blears MP. A few emails could be of help.

July 9, 2008 at 17:48 | Unregistered Commenterchas

Who to?

July 9, 2008 at 18:43 | Unregistered Commenteridlex

To David Clelland, Hazel Blears and John Healey. I told them that the smoking ban is killing these clubs and the Labour Party.

July 9, 2008 at 19:01 | Unregistered Commenterchas

Er er er er er er er er er er er er er er er I am the man to guide us through what won't be a recession.

July 9, 2008 at 20:41 | Unregistered CommenterBoris

Simon, I'm shocked by Kerry's response to your friendly and courteous mail. Clearly, she must have "issues" to behave in such an irrational and unreasonable manner. Why write a blog if you don't want to engage?

Actually I'm more than shocked, I'm disgusted.

July 9, 2008 at 21:54 | Unregistered CommenterRose Whiteley

Idlex says. Andy, you might check out Freedom2Choose, is pro-choice, particularly in respect of smoking. Lots of great essays there and a very active forum..

Sorry idlex but I used to go on that site, but gave up a while back after it got so boring. A lot of old men going round and round in circles and moaning, and to be honest the level of conversation there can be very lacking, which is how I found myself here.

Greyman

July 10, 2008 at 9:11 | Unregistered CommenterGreyman

You sound a bit like Peter Thurgood, Greyman - moaning about moaners. What's wrong with a good moan now and then? Personally I find the F2C forums highly informative, and a huge and growing resource of information. And are they 'old men'? Some of them are young men. And many of them are <gasp> women.

July 10, 2008 at 15:07 | Unregistered Commenteridlex

Sorry if I upset you idlex, not a very good start for my first post on here was it? I don't mind people moaning at all, what I really meant was that on the freedom2choose site it's like being stuck in a lift which has broken down, everyone moans but no one ever tries to think how to get the lift going again, or how to get out of there. They just all agree with each that it is stuck. When I said old men, I meant that is what they sound like, let's be honest, I don't know if they are men or women or old or young. At least with the name I have chosen, you can get a pretty good idea of what I am like. How about you?

Greyman

July 10, 2008 at 16:58 | Unregistered CommenterGreyman

Well Greyman, I for one look forward to hearing your suggestions as to how to get the lift working again, since I am sure we would all look forward to getting out of it!

I think it was pretty unfair of you to characterise the Freedom2Choose forum as you did. Yes there is plenty of 'moaning' going on there which, given the circumstances, is not too surprising. But isn't this the usual 'British' way of handling conditions of adversity? Let's be honest, we don't have a great history of spontaneous bloody revolution now, do we?

Perhaps this national trait would explain why our most popular comedic characters include the likes of Alf Garnett, Victor Meldrew and Basil Fawlty - moaners all!

But if you want to suggest a sustained period of mass civil disobedience, then do count me in. I'll be there with my pitchfork and AK-47! The problem here is not that the British smoking public are not capable of this, it is more that it will take a strong, energetic and charismatic 'leader' to shake them all out of their 'nannied' state of apathy.

And with all due respect to you, 'Greyman' is not the sort of self-selected title that would suggest that you are that leader. But I will be happy to be proved wrong!

In the meantime, you could try going back to F2C and getting involved a bit more yourself, I think you will find that there are lots of ideas buzzing around there all of the time. They range from the clever, through just plain worthy, to the downright daft! But you are just plain wrong if you consider that all that is going on is moaning.

You must surely by now have worked out just how vast is the enemy army that we are all up against. There is no 'quick fix' here, we have to work hard to reverse the actions of a campaign that started life as a disparate buch of activist groups, such as ASH, who have achieved enormous power over the past 2-3 decades through well-funded and co-ordinated - er - moaning!

A final observation: the irony here is that this very blog post has 35 comments, prior to this one and including 2 of your own, which seem to me to contain a lot of - moaning!

Like many at F2C, I have given much of my personal time - and money - to the cause of working for the restoration of lost freedom.

How about you?

.

July 11, 2008 at 23:55 | Unregistered CommenterMoaning Brian Bond

Hello Mr Bond, sounds like an opening to a movie scene doesn't it?

Unfortunately I am not the engineer who can fix these things. I am just another smoker who wants to debate with both smokers and anti-smokers on how we are going to get out of this mess. When I watch Question Time on the television, what I particularly like is that you have all sides arguing and debating with each other, almost like in Parliament. On here you have quite a mixed bag who argue with each other about the way they think things should move forward, and that is exactly what you do not get on Freedom2Choose. Everyone is in agreement with each other on there, which was the point I was trying to make.

Civil disobedience would be very difficult to sustain because of the way the law has been worded, putting all the onus on the publican, but surely there must be other ways we can protest? There was an article on the news last night about boat owners complaining about the price of fuel for their boats, and they have suggested blocking parts of certain rivers on certain days, the same as the heavy goods vehicles protested recently. Or look at Fathers for Justice, climbing up onto roofs and hanging banners across them. Might sound silly I know, but it achieves big publicity doesn't it? These are only suggestions to play around with, and I would like to hear what anyone else thinks of such ideas? If they don't like them, then maybe someone else can come up with another idea, but at least they are ideas and not just moans?

Greyman

July 12, 2008 at 17:13 | Unregistered Commentergreyman

I think that one of the problems of organising action is that many smokers don't even realise that there are groups that oppose the legislation.

I sometimes come across other smokers in circumstances in which it would be useful if I could hand them a card which gives Forest details, a business card, if you like.

I intend to email Simon to find out if these are, or could be made, available.

July 13, 2008 at 10:21 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

Joyce -

That sounds like an excellent idea !

It would also benefit our cause if we were able to mount some sort of (non-hysterical) campaign in the national dailies (half-page ads etc), alerting people to the consequences - both social and economic - of the Antis' witch-hunting fanaticism, and set them aside OUR well-reasoned and humane 'Pro-Choice' approach.

Of course, THAT would probably require the patronage of (say) a Russian oil billionaire. At any rate, it's about time the tobacco companies pulled their timid little finger out and started supporting their customers.

But - for starters - why don't WE agree the terms of a Petition between us, which we could then print off at will, get signed, and post back to Simon (or someone equally suitable). I know that I could get at least thirty or forty signatures (from smokers AND non-smokers alike) within a few days, and would happily bear the postage costs. What is more, many of THEM could also collect an equivalent number. If we organise ourselves in this way, I see absolutely no reason why we shouldn't be able to present 3 to 5 MILLION signatures to The Appropriate Person (to be decided at a later stage) in the run-up to the election. With the attendant press coverage (in the absence of censorship by ASH), such an expression of dissent would be impossible to sweep under the carpet (unlike petitions over the net).

The Exponential Effect of People Power......

Simon's doing a splendid job - but we shouldn't leave it ALL to him: it's OUR future, too !

Thoughts, anyone.................?

Frankly, I'm rarin' to go !

July 14, 2008 at 0:14 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

If you email Simon with your address he'll send you some cards.

July 14, 2008 at 10:30 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

But surely, if it comes from Forest, ASH will just say that it comes from the tobacco companies and can therefore be disregarded as some kind of trick from a vested interest. That's their usual means of monopolising the (so-called) debate isn't it?

With all respect to Simon, who works so hard on our behalf and does great work, I just don't think that Forest can get around that problem.

I would have thought that to make such an exercise truly effective, it would have to emanate entirely from 'the voice of the people', with no ties of any kind, like freedom2choose, for example.

If Simon disagrees with what I've said, I'll happily stand corrected on this. It's an unfair battle, and I would love to see Forest's voice given greater weight in it.


July 14, 2008 at 13:50 | Unregistered CommenterStruggling Spirit

Struggling Spirit -

Yes, I quite take your point - and wasn't implying that it should NECESSARILY be done under the FOREST aegis.

But, we DO need some sort of 'focus', surely ?

The Enemy has ONE thing in its favour: concentrated firepower.

We have TWO important things in our favour: RIGHT - and NUMBERS. It seems folly to me not to utilise the latter in some way - and the petition is the best I can think of (and arguably more effective than refusing to go out on Election Night).

The kind of monster petition I'm suggesting is hardly likely to arise spontaneously, though.

Perhaps, purely as a matter of tactics and administrative convenience, we could create (an admittedly 'single issue') Pro Choice Alliance of the better-known libertarian groups for this purpose ?

How about a partnership between (say):

FOREST
Freedom2Choose
Civitas
The Freedom Association ?

And, surely, there must be groups and associations within the hospitality sector who are now seriously concerned about the potential long-term impact of the Ban ?

It would also greatly assist our cause if there was at least ONE trade union prepared to stand up for our cause, as well - but (from what I can tell) the leaders of ALL the unions seem to have taken their Thirty Pieces of Silver in return for either complete silence on the issue, or enthusiastic compliance with government policy.

The Grey Contollers are - in all probability - perfectly happy to allow the articulate, dissenting Few to exchange asperities on websites such as this (it keeps the Mob off the streets, you see).

I just think we need to hit 'em with something a little more tangible than Reasoned Argument - a strong punch in the solar plexus, rather than Death From a Thousand Tickles..

That said, Joyce's idea about spreading the word with regard to FOREST is an excellent one -from a 'public awareness' point of view.

But it's just as easy (well, almost) to collect a signature as it is to hand out a card..............and the signature stays in OUR back pocket !

With regard to the wretched harridans at ASH - has anyone tried throwing a bucket of water over THEM ?

Well - it worked in 'The Wizard Of Oz'.................

Any more suggestions, anyone ?

July 14, 2008 at 22:41 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Kerry has turned her attention to F2C and written a contemptuous little piece on her blog.

July 18, 2008 at 5:43 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

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