Search This Site
Forest on Twitter

TFS on Twitter

Join Forest On Facebook
Can't display this module in this section.
Featured Video

Friends of The Free Society


Powered by Squarespace
« Diplomatic speak | Main | Questions for the pub minister »

Minister refuses to meet the man from Forest

Sometimes you've just got to laugh.

Last night, two weeks after it was confirmed that pubs minister John Healey would meet two MPs - Greg Knight and David Clelland - and me to discuss our campaign to amend the smoking ban, Healey's office got cold feet and decided that I couldn't attend today's meeting after all.

I was informed by text at 7:30, just as Coronation Street was about to start.

I don't know whether it was the piece in the Morning Advertiser (original headline: Anti-smoke ban campaigners to meet Healey) or the 120+ comments on this blog that frightened them off, but the result is that I have been barred from attending a meeting that I suggested to discuss a campaign that I organise!!

You couldn't make it up.

I am told that Healey's office is "very apologetic" about the confusion. Funny that, because I have in front of me a letter that states very clearly that the MPs will be accompanied by "campaign organiser Simon Clark". In fact, until last night there was never any suggestion that my presence would be a problem.

Frankly, their protestations that the minister only meets fellow MPs doesn't hold water. And nor should it. HERE, for example, is another minister, Peter Mandelson, meeting representatives of the Fair Pint campaign last week. Now that wasn't so difficult, was it?

The good news is that the meeting goes ahead with Greg and David representing the Save Our Pubs and Clubs campaign. Report and photo to follow.

Above: Greg Knight, yours truly and others (including Antony Worrall Thompson) at the launch of the Save Our Pubs and Clubs campaign last year.

Now there's a thought: do you think Healey would have refused to meet AWT because he's not an MP either?

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    A Minister for pubs who dodges every opportunity to actually do something to stem the tide of pub closures? Quite a problem if the issue is to be addressed, I'm sure you'll agree.

Reader Comments (59)

The sooner we are rid of this evil govt the better.

March 30, 2010 at 14:09 | Unregistered CommenterMark

What a cowardly piece of....

March 30, 2010 at 14:27 | Unregistered CommenterMark

(the second Mark (me) is not the same as the first one!

March 30, 2010 at 14:28 | Unregistered CommenterMark


The Pub Minister is a JOKE.

March 30, 2010 at 14:52 | Unregistered CommenterEddie D

"No taxation without representation!"

What an affront to democracy and how rude and offensive to Simon!

And...they have the audacity to call themselves "Right Honourable!"

I am deeply disappointed.

March 30, 2010 at 15:10 | Unregistered CommenterPensioner Ellie

The problem Labour have despite their spin, is hat it is widely believed the smoking ban has had the most impact on pubs for closures. It does strike me as being strange to cancel your involvement as it invokes further resentment. At least if you were there they could claim to be "listening" albeit with two fingers in the ears chanting la la la.

It is good to see that Labour's recovery has stalled and any more nails we can bang in their coffin the better.

March 30, 2010 at 15:15 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton


I think Labour will be thumped at the election. Many people will think don't know about Cameron BUT not Labour for another five years.

March 30, 2010 at 15:19 | Unregistered CommenterMark

I wonder how many Anti-Smoking Lobbyists were

e-mailing the Pub Minister before the meeting.

March 30, 2010 at 15:21 | Unregistered CommenterEddie D

I had hoped for better but it was what I expected. As I said in my comment on the previous thread, I am excluded, marginalised, and persecuted. Roll on the GE - let's hope no one is stupid enough to vote Labour again or for any other party that refuses to listen to our representatives!

FB Quote of the day : "Oh, I see Tony Blair is back. It reminds me of why I hate Labour so much." I think many of us on here have many more reasons than that to hate the party but now that they've brought Tone back to help, one can only hope that support begins to fall away even more.

Finally, for the conspiracy theorists among you - My guess is that Labour doesn't want to win the next election. If they did, wouldn't they at least treat potential voters like us with a tiny bit of respect?

March 30, 2010 at 15:25 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

WRT to the 'respect' which Pat mentions, isn't it ironic that a government which has a Respect Czar is especially contemptuous of smokers and treats the general population of this country - with the exception of its pet minority groups - with disdain?

March 30, 2010 at 15:31 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

How rude - and how very dismissive of those of us fighting for our rights. Do M.P's only meet with other M.P's now? Are smokers so little thought of that Healey can't bring himself to meet with our representative?

March 30, 2010 at 15:40 | Unregistered CommenterJilly P

What an insult Simon, not only to you but us who follow your blog and Forest. As an ex Labour voter I am disgusted and ashamed to say I used to vote for this shower. Once again the voice of the smoker has been ripped from his/her throat.


March 30, 2010 at 15:41 | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYin

I agree, BigYin, what an extraordinary insult to Simon and to us all. They really do think we're lepers, don't they? Breathtaking.

March 30, 2010 at 15:52 | Unregistered CommenterRose Whiteley

Smoking should be banned and criminalised...

March 30, 2010 at 15:59 | Unregistered CommenterBarobalti


Irefuse to Quit

I do not seek help to Quit

I will not be COERCED to QUIT


The Government can stick that in their
so-called STATISTICS.

March 30, 2010 at 16:10 | Unregistered CommenterEddie D

We have had our social lives destroyed by a corrupt bunch of MP'S. Bring on the revolution. The greeks refused to accept it, can't see the Spanish accepting it, us passive plebs lay down and accept it.

March 30, 2010 at 16:18 | Unregistered CommenterMark

I have to say I'm not surprised the wanker Healey refused to meet Simon, in fact I was sort of expecting it.
I've seen it all before, its all just posturing and pontification with these guys coming up to an election.
You see they've got their media coverage and the big bullshit buildup that they might be considering an amendment.
And thats all that matters as far as the uninitiated and the gullible are concerned, the majority of whom never heard of Forest.
Now, just wait for the next media bulletin which will be something on the lines of 'after extensive consultations with various anti smoking groups, Ministers and ASH the consusus revealed that the majority do not want an amendment'.
And how many people are going to question or know that they never even spoke to Simon.
Its what Labour call democracy!

March 30, 2010 at 16:33 | Unregistered Commenterann

A Riddle:

What is it that Nu Labour Ministers SPEAK - but don't HAVE ?



March 30, 2010 at 16:33 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

On the bright side - it doesn't matter anyway. He wont be a minister at all in 6 weeks.

March 30, 2010 at 16:40 | Unregistered CommenterMark

The Labour Party feel under siege at the moment on civil liberties and the nanny state. Huge agreement on the closures of pubs as previously mentioned, a growing band of smokers and non smokers who think the smoking ban is one step too far, and hardly anyone believes them on passive smoking.

We have won most of the battles and Healey has put his tin hat on and is in his bunker.

March 30, 2010 at 17:12 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

In which case, let us all hope he Does The Decent Thing....................

March 30, 2010 at 17:18 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

New Labour - your time is up. You have lied and spinned your way to power and made maximum use of that power to devastating effect. New Labour is full of automatons, programmed to obey the party line, and when a gross mistake is made (such as the full smoking ban) are not man enough to admit error. I truly hope, and pray, that they are kicked out of office for a generation or more. The Britain, prior to May 1997, will be looked on as a golden age compared to the country that is now totally unrecognisable - shame on you all.

March 30, 2010 at 17:24 | Unregistered CommenterBill

Well, what with predictions of 10,000 pubs closing over the next five years it would be nice if the minister would talk to people for whom this would be a concern. Added to the ~5,000 we have already lost - this is a lot of pubs.

March 30, 2010 at 17:39 | Unregistered CommenterFredrik Eich

They are forcing through a change in pub culture. There will be no traditional pubs left but plenty of eating pubs where kids run riot. NuLabour is waiting for the smaller, independent pubs to die then they clear the way for big powerful Pubcos to take over and squeeze out the little man - you know - the one that Labour was first formed to represent more than 100 years ago.

If there was ever a very clear example of a party having lost its roots, it's meaning, purpose and its soul, then this is it.

March 30, 2010 at 17:49 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Unfortunately, these days you cannot believe a word any politician says and certainly none in their manifestos, which makes casting a vote very difficult! Whichever one you vote for you know you will voted on the basis of lies.

Pity we can't decapitate them on the grounds of Gross Misrepresentation!

March 30, 2010 at 18:04 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

So, is Forest sending anyone else along? Someone who hasn't been banned?

March 30, 2010 at 18:05 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

After may 6th, the next government should think of keeping the role of pub minister, and Greg Knight would make an ideal candidate. Assuming the tories win of course.

March 30, 2010 at 18:09 | Unregistered CommenterPhil Williams

Well he did what Labour does.
As I stated in the earlier post .
He stuck his fingers in his ears and went la la la la .
Now thats democracy .

March 30, 2010 at 18:29 | Unregistered CommenterSpecky

Did the two who met the minister put over the points raised in the previous thread?

Also did they raise the refusal to meet Simon?

March 30, 2010 at 18:32 | Unregistered Commenterwest2

Wonder how many times he's met Deborah Arnott ?

March 30, 2010 at 18:33 | Unregistered CommenterBanshee

I think Labour are about to implode.
I also believe the other reason is the so called minister for pubs Mr Healey has been given a job ,but has been given no authority whatsoever to go along with the title.
How very Labour.
Anyhow back to the implosion bit ,here is a video of the last throws of a socialist government,enjoy.
I find the parralell amusing ,however another 10 years of this control freakery and it could be nearer to the truth than they think.

March 30, 2010 at 19:03 | Unregistered CommenterSpecky

Does anybody have this guy's email? We should flame him.

March 30, 2010 at 19:20 | Unregistered Commenteranonymous

We all seem to have forgotten,Labour MPs are not allowed to discuss the ban or contemplate any ammendments. Any Labour MP doings so would suddenly
have their still hidden secrets on the front pages within hours. Their futures depend on their silence.
Pursuing the path of moderation on the issue of the
total has proved fruitless,luckily there are other
paths down which more forcefull types may now wish to
venture. A path down which the true British have
many centuries of experience and success.

But will they ?

Rubicon South Bank

March 30, 2010 at 20:01 | Unregistered CommenterA Ban to Far

l would have not acknowledged that l recieved the text and gone anyway ... taking some reporters with me. Be as devious as this absolute arrogant idiot Healey.

March 30, 2010 at 20:14 | Unregistered CommenterSpartan

Have you forgotten? Look at the legislation itself. It is also against the Health Act to say that it isn't a good thing. The poor dear is only obeying the law, draconian piece of toilet paper that it is....

March 30, 2010 at 20:51 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

It's another case of the political classes following the whims of their real paymasters rather than the wishes of their constituents.
Then they wonder why everyone hates them.
It beggars belief.
Imagine the life of isolation they are creating for themselves.
It's already happening.
Very strange people indeed.

March 30, 2010 at 21:56 | Unregistered CommenterSpecky

No doubt some researcher has looking at the replies to your invited Q's blog and shit their trousers somewhat.

So you know the very first question you must ask the Orwellian sounding "Pubs Minister" if you bump into him at some point before he loses his post in 6 weeks.

"Where the fuck were you?"

March 30, 2010 at 21:57 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph K

Did I miss another Labour Law? When did they pass the law that Ministers only talk to MPs? If this is democracy can I have some other form of government?
I know they don't have to follow the wishes of the majority, or we wouldn't have this ban, but surely to christ the least they could do is listen!
How can we get this refusal to meet Simon into the MSM? Because if Ministers can only meet other than MPs why do I constantly see them on TV talking to all and sundry?

March 30, 2010 at 22:36 | Unregistered CommenterMike Sharkey

This is intriguing. Putting aside the anger which the damned arrogance and rudeness of this putrid, oxygen-wasting, walking, talking example of why euthanasia should be legal brings up in me – I wonder what, exactly, rattled his cage so much that he decided (or was instructed?) at the eleventh hour that he couldn’t meet with you. He knew that you were representing Forest and he knows what Forest stands for, so it’s hardly as if he could have been taken unawares by the sudden realisation that – Shock! Horror! – you were going to try and speak up on behalf of all the despised smokers out there. He must know, too, that there are many, many angry smokers around who would post on your blog as soon as they knew about the meeting, so that should hardly have been a shock to him, either. He knew, too, from the outset, that you were not an MP, yet he still went ahead and arranged (and confirmed) the meeting. And with Greg and David in the meeting, it’s not as if by barring you he was going to get away with not addressing the issue of the smoking ban at all.

So what do you think was his real reason, Simon? Because, to me this hints that there’s more than a just little bit of good old-fashioned fear lurking behind the oh-so-sure-of-their-ground brave face of the anti-smoking movement. Maybe a sign that, despite their poo-poohing, ASH and their ilk are getting a bit jittery about the amount of publicity/support/success which groups such as Forest have amassed since 2007?

PS: I think Spartan’s idea is an excellent one, and something to remember for next time, maybe. If they want dirty tricks, give 'em dirty tricks. They started it, after all!

March 30, 2010 at 22:46 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

This was brought to our attention on the Dick Puddlecotte blog

It is an article in the FT.

The Associate Parliamentary Health Group, for example,
receives £168,000 a year in "associate membership fees"
from 26 health- related and pharmaceutical companies.
These include AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer.
The money helps to fund "extensive online facilities",
including an exclusive database of localised health data,
which is available to MPs and paying associate member companies.

I find this perplexing especially when taken in the context of the gains and potential gains from these companies from "flogging" smoking cessation to the NHS.
Smoking cessation is an industry.
Are MP's complicite ?


March 30, 2010 at 22:58 | Unregistered CommenterSpecky



March 30, 2010 at 23:02 | Unregistered CommenterGhandi

Can we have a link please Ghandi.

March 30, 2010 at 23:11 | Unregistered CommenterSpecky

Many here have said that they are not surprised that the Simon was excluded. I am.
What I had expected to hear from Simon about the meeting was that his statements were heard and then ignored. In that case, as ‘ann’ said above, the minister would have been able to state that he had consulted ‘interested parties’.

I think that the reason for the cancellation, among other things is that the meeting has been flagged far and wide, and, yes indeed, strenuous efforts have been made to have Simon excluded SO AS TO AVOID RECOGNISING FOREST AS AN INTERESTED PARTY. In effect, they have sidelined Forest as a minority group, and, of course, they have avoided any mention of the words 'smoking ban'.

I do not know what Dept of State the Pubs Minister belongs to – possibly ‘Enterprise’. I have no doubt that the Dept of Health will have leaned upon his Dept very heavily.

I would definitely agree that the amount of negative comment on the net would have been a factor. We must remember that many, many blogs had multiple comments against the extension and against the ban in general. Not only us. About 90% of comments on all the blogs were against the ban.

I also feel that there may be an element of ‘do not rock the boat’ about this scandalous situation. If there exists a secret agreement between the major parties not to bring the smoking ban into the election, that would be a very good reason for this volte face. But, one might say, about 75% of Conservatives voted against the ban; why should they agree to such a thing? What we forget is that it was the rank and file who voted against the ban. It is quite possible that the leadership were secretly for it. Let us fervently hope that there is no such thing.

We have a little over a month before the General Election. Let us see what this month brings forth. If the Conservatives do not bring the matter up, then they must be mad.

March 30, 2010 at 23:26 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

Perhaps you could re-arrange the meeting Simon - or is the pub's minister not allowed to re-arrange a pre-arranged meeting that was cancelled because of a 'confusion'?

It says it all really. Let's face it - ASH refuse to debate the subject with those in the know to protect their position; it's no wonder the ill-informed ministers follow the same suit.

March 31, 2010 at 0:07 | Unregistered CommenterHelen

....... and where oh where are reports of this in the MSM?

Anything bloody ASH even whisper is straight in ... or from any other anti-smoking group.


March 31, 2010 at 0:09 | Unregistered CommenterSpartan

I am honestly and truly both shocked and dismayed by what has happened in the United Kingdom. I am 59. It has come to the point where things are happening which I used to hear about in my teens, things which allegedly happened in the USSR. What troubles me the most is that the majority of ordinary people do not know it is happeneing. If this is what happens in the smoking ban arena, it must also be happening in many other areas, both small and not so small, if it is a subject that HMG do not want free discussion about.

Unfortunately, we also have to remind ourselves that Forest is sponsored by the Tobacco Insustry. It would be like a Parish Council inviting a Satanist to discuss improvememnt in the local community.

March 31, 2010 at 0:40 | Unregistered Commentertimbone

I am angry that Healey refused to meet Simon.This minister for pubs position is a complete sham. I think the govt would be happier converting them into Post Offices than to help struggling pubs.

They clearly are refusing to enter into any negotiations about reforming their smoking ban; despite the fact that three to four million people no longer feel comfortable going to pubs and have had their social lives ruined.
I think they will continue to ignore us and reforming the ban, until such time as they are forced.
I feel totally persecuted by the ban. Smoking is a completely legal vice and discriminating against smoking and smokers (and ignoring our views)must be completely challenged. The ban is clearly all about control and not second-hand smoke.
If all of the other EU states can provide adults with the choice of rooms and areas then why cannot the UK and Ireland?

March 31, 2010 at 2:44 | Unregistered CommenterJames

Anyone who uses twitter, Digg, Stumbleupon, Delicious should get this story out there to the press etc. The comments on the previous thread show the level of impact the law has had and make for a great "human interest" story for the media.

March 31, 2010 at 6:51 | Unregistered CommenterMrs P

@James "This minister for pubs position is a complete sham. I think the govt would be happier converting them into Post Offices than to help struggling pubs."

Prince Charles is already helping: report on my local news yesterday about his love affair with Cumbria which featured a pub which would have gone under but for PC's help in converting part of its premises into - a post office...

March 31, 2010 at 9:40 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

Turn pubs into post offices? Better still, why not turn them into knitting shops? No more foul smelling beer and men discussing football and all that shit, just loads and loads of delicate ladies poring over their latest fairisle patterns and needle sizes. Tea and scones could be served all day, children made welcome, and no more discontenters prattling on about smoking and all that awful smelly stuff. Bring it on I say, it would be a definite Labour vote winner!

March 31, 2010 at 10:56 | Unregistered CommenterMajorie Dawes

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>