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« Did Silk Cut bring Cameron and Clegg together? | Main | My night with Tess Daly »

Nick Clegg's luxury item: a stash of cigarettes

This morning on Radio 4 Britain's deputy prime minister - the man who refuses to even review let alone amend the smoking ban - will reveal that his preferred luxury item on a desert island would be ... a stash of cigarettes. You couldn't make it up.

What is remarkable about this revelation is that it will have been thought through extremely carefully not just by Clegg but, I suspect, by a whole team of advisers. (Remember the trouble the Lib Dem leader got into when Piers Morgan persuaded him, in an interview, to reveal how many women he had slept with?)

My guess is that the message here is: Nick Clegg, the man you can trust because he tells the truth, warts and all. Then again, Clegg strikes me as the type of man who wants to be seen as quite cool and trendy.

Perhaps it's best not to over analyse his response. Let's just be grateful that in 2010 the deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom isn't afraid to broadcast the fact that he enjoys smoking. If only he demonstrated a bit more empathy for his fellow smokers who would like to light up not on a desert island but in some pubs and clubs.

Desert Island Discs with Nick Clegg will be broadcast at 11:15 this morning and 09:00 on Friday October 29. The BBC has the story HERE.

PS. This explains the phone call I got from the Sunday Times late yesterday afternoon asking if there are any other members of the Cabinet, apart from Clegg, Ken Clarke and Andrew Mitchell (cigars, apparently) who smoke. Truth is, I don't know.

H/T Rose W

Reader Comments (42)

Does anyone else get the feeling that there's a mass 'testing of the waters' going on here?

Whatever the reason, I found it refreshing to hear, even if it was qualified with 'occasional' and 'children don't know' etc.

October 24, 2010 at 11:01 | Unregistered CommenterLiberty

I have to agree with Liberty here , re "testing the waters", cant help feeling that the msm are gonna have a field day with this though,anyway h/t to Nick for coming clean and admitting he smokes, could the tide finnaly be turning? lets hope so.

October 24, 2010 at 12:09 | Unregistered Commentercarl

Another MP's dreary and unoriginal selection of records on 'Desert Island Discs' ?

Wow - gotta hear that !

Just one little question for Mr Kool: what would his reaction be if ASH(Worldwide Inc) banned smoking on desert islands (make your own reasons up) ?

If Barbie ever gets tired of Ken, I can think of at least ONE replacement.............

October 24, 2010 at 12:12 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Nick Clegg is able to smoke in his own home without attracting the unwelcome attention of social workers, who target the deprived in the hope that this will somehow reduce health inequalities. The idea that one person can smoke at home (especially if they have young kids) without being pestered while another can't seems to bypass people who want to iron out health inequalities.

October 24, 2010 at 12:29 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda

It's proper freedom of choice. Nick Clegg can smoke if he so wishes. And alone on a desert island, his tobacco smoke isn't going to harm anyone else.

As for the real world, it's clear he doesn't smoke in front of his children. He says his children don't even know he smokes. Where exactly are social workers "pestering" parents who smoke in the way he does, away from the children???

October 24, 2010 at 12:37 | Unregistered CommenterRollo Tommasi

Rollo - if his desert island was in the Outer Hebrides and he found a structure to shelter in, he would breaking the law by smoking in it, alone.

October 24, 2010 at 13:42 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

No he wouldn't Joyce. Not unless that "structure" was a workplace, shop, pub, etc.

October 24, 2010 at 14:05 | Unregistered CommenterRollo Tommasi

Yes, he would, Rollo - bus stops aren't exempt from the ban despite not being workplaces. The ban encompasses every, single 'public' structure which is more than 49% enclosed. The two exceptions - hotel rooms and prison cells - are, oddly, workplaces. I'm surprised that there are any prison officers and chambermaids still alive.

October 24, 2010 at 14:15 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

No Joyce. In case it's escaped your notice, it's permissible to smoke in homes and other private places where the public do not have access.

October 24, 2010 at 14:22 | Unregistered CommenterRollo Tommasi

It's not his home, though, Rollo - he hasn't bought it and he doesn't have exclusive right of access to it. It is, therefore, a 'public' structure as defined by the law of the ban.

BTW what are these "other private places where the public do not have access"?

October 24, 2010 at 14:32 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

I'd have thought that the great majority of structures on the Outer Hebrides are someone's private property, even if it's not his. The smoking laws do not apply to any such structures.

October 24, 2010 at 14:34 | Unregistered CommenterRollo Tommasi

A pub is someone's private property and the law applies to the owner even if he had two customers and all three decided that smoking should be allowed.

If Nick's structure were owned by someone then unless he rents/gives the structure to Nick for his home ie he guarantees that no member of the public has any right of access then the law applies. Indeed, the owner would be guilty of failing to display a no smoking sign as long as the structure is not a private residence.

October 24, 2010 at 14:47 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

Perhaps Joyce, you can point me to whatever section of the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005 states that smoking laws don't apply only where the owner "guarantees that no member of the public has any right of access".

October 24, 2010 at 14:56 | Unregistered CommenterRollo Tommasi

No, Rollo, you tell me which structures to which members of the public have right of access are exempt. I asked earlier because I can't think of any.

In fact, the law applies to private property into which no-one else is invited.

October 24, 2010 at 15:10 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

Joyce - Before, your analogy was if "he found a structure to shelter in". Now it's suddenly a structure "to which members of the public have right of access".

That's very different.

October 24, 2010 at 15:29 | Unregistered CommenterRollo Tommasi

Clegg would have to hope that whoever was running the Desert Island was not an anti-democratic, authoritarian Gauleiter like himself, Cameron and all their henchmen. Clegg is a nauseating little control freak with no liberal or democratic tendencies whatsoever. His brand of "I know best" policies implemented by politicians who have never had a proper job is sickening to watch.

I'd like to promise him a referendum on whether he gets rescued from the island then renege on the promise and leave him stranded. Perhaps a "Freedom Website" could be implemented to invite suggestions as to how to rescue him. Then we could ignore all the suggestions and leave him to rot.

October 24, 2010 at 15:41 | Unregistered CommenterJames Trent

It isn't different, Rollo. The law covers ALL structures more than 49% enclosed (with the exceptions I mentioned). Structures, as you pointed out, are owned but, even as private property they aren't exempt if members of the public can access them. In fact, even if others don't access, they aren't exempt and the law applies absurdly to a 50% enclosed structure on a desert island which should, by law, have a sign on it. That is, however, in my mind, no more absurd than demanding that a sign be displayed on the door of a cathedral and demanding that people can't smoke in a bus shelter or in the cab of a tractor which seats one and which no-one else uses.

The law is spiteful, intrusive and absurd. I hope that Nick can't get his bloody fag lit in the howling gale and rain battering his desert island.

October 24, 2010 at 16:40 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

of course Nick Clegg can smoke at home ... his house will have more rooms in it than the average person's house. I don't know anybody who has been pestered by social workers but if you have seen the latest ASH Scotland report (misleadingly called Beyond smoke-free even though it clearly discusses a situation where smoking still takes place), one of the short term measures to prevent shs exposure is described in this report as 'interventions' to stop people smoking at home, and the provision of NRT to assist in this (this probably being the sum total of what ASH Scotland understands by the term 'harm reduction').

October 24, 2010 at 16:59 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda

So Belinda, you are admitting that you don't know anyone who is being "pestered by social workers" not to smoke in their home. Which begs the question, what was the point of your previous remark?

Even this ASH Scotland report, which you now now refer to, makes no reference to social workers pestering smokers in the home. In fact, there is nothing in the report to indicate that the "interventions" ASH recommends would be used for anyone other than smokers who already want to smoke less in the home.

Why? What ulterior motives do you draw from the ASH report? And what is your provenance for this?

October 24, 2010 at 17:18 | Unregistered CommenterRollo Tommasi

Rollo, consider the title of the report, which clearly refers to a smoke-free Scotland. This doesn't suggest somehow that they are going to be satisfied with helping those people who want to give up ... even if those people amount to 70 per cent of smokers (or, as Sheila Duffy calculated on learning that 1 per cent of Scots had given up smoking, 69 per cent - not realising that the 70 per cent figure has a symbolic rather than a literal meaning).

Intervention is called for to stop this smoking at home: not only that but staff are to be trained to implement it. I am not sure what training is required to help willing smokers to step outside the back door or access NRT.

October 24, 2010 at 18:10 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda

It appears that Clegg's children tell him what he can do in his own house. Do they also tell him how to run the country?

October 24, 2010 at 18:33 | Unregistered Commenterchas

Good grief - it's even made the news - you'd think he'd confessed to liking torturing small animals! Channel 4 News referrred to smoking as a 'dirty habit', a subjective term which has no business on a news programme. If waters are being tested then Nick can rest assured that the denormalisation is in full swing. Martin Dockrell wasn't happy though - he's alarmed that smoking is becoming cool again. Allow me to help by retrieving my cigarette holder....

October 24, 2010 at 19:02 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

Who needs social workers to pester us Rollo? Perhaps yu don't read the papers, or watch the news - but I can assure you we are PESTERED from every quarter. Teachers (who are virtually social workers these days in any case) who convey the message and have our children pester us. Adverts that show a parent smoking outside - but their actions being mimicked by the little darlings watching safey from inside.'Experts' who say that smoking outside is not good enough anyway as our clothes carry '3rd hand smoke' in their very fibres, as does our furnutre should we wait till the little darlings have gone to bed to light up inside our own homes...As for social workers - oh yes - they would be the ones saying that smokers should not be allowed to foster or adopt.

October 24, 2010 at 19:20 | Unregistered Commenterdunhillbabe

Lets hope Nick Clegg was testing the waters, by his remarks made on the radio program. Maybe he has read through some of the comments on his YourFreedom website and realised that most favour a choice of areas for adults, rather than an unnecessary,disproportionate total indoor ban.
The smoking ban was introduced on the back of complete lies and junk scientific studies claiming that short term exposure to second-hand smoke is harmful. You either have to be very anti or a complete fool to not see the truth..

October 24, 2010 at 19:33 | Unregistered CommenterMark

According to Iain Dale: "The new Minister of State at the Department of Health, Simon Burns, is a chain smoker."

October 24, 2010 at 19:50 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

The media are shocked and aghast - NIck Clegg has 'admitted' that he smokes ! Last night, the nation's sweetheart, Cheryl Cole 'admitted' that she smokes on NATIONAL TV!!! SHOCK ! HORROR ! - get the smelling salts !!!!

Why is it that one cannot simply state that they smoke ? Why is such a statement of fact referred to as an 'admission' - which by definition implies the smoker is 'fessing up' to doing something wrong or illegal? It is not illegal to smoke , therefor there is no 'wrongdoing' to 'admit' to!! And what bloody business is it of ANYONE anyway??

Smoking is an action, a habit, something one does - or does not. It is NOT a character trait. Smoking does not render one more evil, less intelligent, less willing to donate to charity, more likely to fiddle ones expenses or tax returns. Someone who quits smoking does not become a 'better person' - if they were mean spirited, tax-dodging adulteres as smokers - chances are they'll be the same as a non smoker. Could I point out that Hitler was a rabid anti - smoker, Churchill was not. Clearly then God was on the wrong side when we won .

October 24, 2010 at 19:56 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

@Liz ... and we can go further - Hitler hated smoking and banned it in public places - his three enemies were Churchill who smoked cigars, Roosevelt who smoked cigarettes and Stalin who smoked a pipe - the trilogy is complete.

October 24, 2010 at 22:19 | Unregistered Commentertimbone

"Asked if he would repeal the ban on smoking in public places, Mr Clegg admitted the ban made him miss the days of smoking in pubs, but insisted he believed it was the right thing to do."$1368640.htm

October 24, 2010 at 22:26 | Unregistered Commentertimbone

Maybe Clegg merely smokes 'ironically'.........................

Well, it's a thought.

October 24, 2010 at 23:05 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

I think Mark has put his finger on Clegg's confession.

Cabinet ministers and very senior politicians live in a haemetically sealed world and are very reliant on their advisors for what is happening in the Dog and Duck. Clegg and the Lib Dems thought that the smoking ban was a done deal. One thing that has struck me speaking to MPs, aides and advisors is how much ASH has Parliament have taped up and almost certainly swallowed ASH's propaganda that the smoking ban was popular.

Clegg and the Lib Dems were most certainly taken aback at the ferocity and how articulate most smokers were. Politicians are increasingly worried about the blogosphere and with 12 million smokers, even an organisation such as CAMRA with 100,000 members is taken very seriously in Westminster. We are potentially far more damaging.

I think Clegg was going for the empathy vote with smokers.

October 24, 2010 at 23:08 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton


He'd better start listening to them if he wants votes instead of just to look sympathetic.

October 24, 2010 at 23:12 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda

I have recently discovered the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health and what I find shocking is this "ASH provides the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Smoking and Health is a cross-party group of Peers and MPs which was founded in 1976 and is currently chaired by Stephen Williams MP."

ASH do not even to hide it.

The All Party group on its website says:

Action on Smoking and Health provides administrative support to the group, including sharing of information with members of the group, the occasional provision of briefing material at meetings, and occasional funding of receptions."

This is why the junk science of second hand smoke, pub closures, NRT failure rates and the popularity of the ban rubbish gets reported day in day out.

I have written to Stephen Williams to appear in front of it. Don't hold your breath.

October 24, 2010 at 23:23 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

Ashes to ashes, funk to funky
We know politicians are junkies
Strung out in heaven's high
Hitting an all-time low.......Keep going Dave.

October 24, 2010 at 23:28 | Unregistered CommenterMarcie

You're so right there Belinda, he'd better start listening to them, whether he likes it or not.

Many ex-labour voters gave the labour party a resounding thumbs-down at the last election due to the smoking ban in its current form.

I know that many posting on here cannot comprehend how the smoking ban alone can affect how people vote, but as an individual member for 25 years of a labour club, I can assure you that they do.

October 24, 2010 at 23:39 | Unregistered CommenterHelen

Hope you don't mind if I chip in. It's like everyone is living in a cave.

October 24, 2010 at 23:52 | Unregistered CommenterRusso

Sorry to hijack the thread but I think Simon and the readers of this blog would be interested in the campaign to stop a very elderly woman from being evicted from her home simply because she smokes. Please visit Rich White's "Smokescreens" or "Pro Choice Smoking Doctor" for more details.

October 25, 2010 at 1:21 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

Russo -

Re your "It's like everyone is living in a cave."

Not sure what you mean by 'everyone'. Would you kindly favour us with an explanation ?

October 25, 2010 at 6:24 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Perhaps I put it on the wrong thread but I did provide a link to the 88 year old lifelong smoker who is being chucked out of her home because she is a smoker.

I note comment moderation is on - perhaps Simon hasn't seen it yet...?

October 25, 2010 at 9:17 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

As for Cleggy - I fear that his description of cigarettes as a "luxury" item could indicate moves to force smokers on low income to quit or lose benefits. Horrible, but I've heard this debated and it's not as if Cleggy is any kind of friend to smokers, is it?

I hope I'm wrong. I trust none of them. They have all let us down.

October 25, 2010 at 9:38 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

"It's proper freedom of choice. Nick Clegg can smoke if he so wishes. And alone on a desert island, his tobacco smoke isn't going to harm anyone else."
Rollo, it's very kind of you to offer our deputy prime minister his own desert island to smoke on! I don't know how you plan to pay for this. It's an expensive way to deal with risks that are very small and are impossible to prove . Most of us will just be happy to be able to smoke in a pub and maybe get a bite to eat while we are at it. We don't all need desert islands. We just need some space. There is plenty of space.

October 25, 2010 at 13:08 | Unregistered CommenterFredrik Eich

Regarding the argument with Rollo: from his quote it seems that the English ban is worded differently to the Scottish ban. The English ban was constructed by banning smoking in all buildings and then exempting homes, hotel bedrooms and (only temporarily) secure mental hospitals. I have spent a lot of time thinking about how to legally get around the English ban but because of the way it is constructed, it can't be done.

October 25, 2010 at 13:23 | Unregistered Commenterjon

Possibly Jon. Sorry, I'm not so hot on the English laws.

October 25, 2010 at 22:19 | Unregistered CommenterRollo Tommasi

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