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Just who is pulling the strings?

By Editor
June 22nd, 2012 at 8:49 am | 1 Comment | Posted in Uncategorized

One to watch : With all the talk about the Government White Paper on Civil Service Reform, and whether it has gone far enough, here is a rather timely spoof video from the Hands Off Our Packs campaign opposing the plain packaging of tobacco.

Angela Harbutt who is running the campaign said

“The video reflects the widely held view that politicians, including ministers, are increasingly puppets of taxpayer funded bodies and unelected bureaucrats in Whitehall.”

“We urge ministers to think for themselves and listen to all stakeholders, not just the tobacco control industry and civil servants in the Department of Health.”

Worth a look we think. Oh and just a reminder that Angela Harbutt is one of our very own bloggers here at Liberal Vision. But tobacco or not, this video will resonate with many groups, including civil liberties ones, that have battled against government mandarin projects.

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Plain packaging – a dirty war alright!

By Angela Harbutt
March 13th, 2012 at 2:49 pm | 6 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

Some of you might have read the Independent article today “The PM, his pro-smoking aide, and a dirty war over cigarette packaging“. In the article it says (amongst other things…)

“…The All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health has asked Vince Cable, the Trade and Industry Minister, for reassurances that Mr Littlewood will not be advising on tobacco-related matters because of his “clear conflict of interest”.

“….Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the anti-smoking organisation ASH, said: “Mark Littlewood is not independent, he has nailed his colours to the mast by supporting the tobacco industry-funded campaign against plain packs, just as he did its campaign to bring smoking back to our pubs.”

Nailed his colours to the mast ? Too right he has – and years ago. Mark Littlewood (founder of, and former blogger here at LV) has been a passionate smoker, and blogger on the issue for years – and not just on tobacco. He has stood up to governments on tobacco and alcohol and drugs and gambling and a number of other lifestyle issues time and again here on this very blog, on the media. You name it Littlewood has been there.

…And long before he started this blog, when he was the spin doctor for the Lib Dems  he was positively evangelical about people’s freedoms, civil (co-founder of no2id) and  personal.

And who did he report to when working at the Lib Dems ? A certain Lord Rennard. The same Lord Rennard who just happens to be the vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health – (which is also chaired by Stephen Williams MP – also a Lib Dem) – the group that happened to make the complaint about Mark Littlewood to erm… fellow Lib Dem Vince Cable. Priceless! What is that about? Memory loss?

There can be nobody on the APPG – not Lord Rennard the vice chair or Stephen Williams the chair, nor anyone at ASH or indeed Vince Cable that doesn’t know Mark’s stance on tobacco – nor that he has held this stance for decades.

Surprised the Independent didn’t seem to know any of that  – or perhaps just chose not to mention any of that in their article. No – Their stance is to allude to what monies Mark Littlewood’s current organisation might receive from tobacco. As if this would make any difference to Mark Littlewood. It would be laughable were it not all so darned serious.

Personally I find it utterly hypocritical that the entire anti-tobacco health industry feels free to spout their “personal heart-felt beliefs” on smoking to Andrew Lansley and the Department of Health without any qualms. Indeed self-confessed tobacco-haters are commissioned and paid for by the Department of Health  to produce “independent” government policy papers on smoking. Yet these people – or their mouthpieces – go charging off to the Trade and Industry Minister as soon as someone, whose personal beliefs are at odds with theirs, gets anywhere so much as a foot into the doors of power. And who was it I wonder that gave this story to the Independent?

What ever the “Independent” might imply or the APPG disingenuously assert, this attack has nothing to do with tobacco funding any organisation.  It is indeed, as the “Independent” headline says, a dirty war. Because this is an attempt to use the power and privilege of parliamentary position to blacken a man’s name; to cow Mark Littlewood personally into shutting up, or attempt to force his employers into gagging him. I sincerely hope that neither will occur.

As for the APPG on Smoking and Health – a group that receives funding, “admin support” and “briefing papers” from the anti-smoking campaign group ASH – well it is about time this parliamentary loophole to power and influence was plugged once and for all.

Angela Harbutt is a proud campaigner for the Forest run campaign Hands Off Our Packs , opposing the introduction of plain packaging of tobacco.

Update : read also related pieces here – Velvet Gove Iron Fist , Alex Massie at the Spectator and Simon Clark-Taking Liberties

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Angela Harbutt joins the fight against plain packaging on tobacco

By Angela Harbutt
February 6th, 2012 at 4:55 pm | 5 Comments | Posted in Nannying, Nudge Dredd, Personal Freedom

In December 2011 the Secretary of State for Health announced that a public consultation on the plain packaging of tobacco would commence Spring 2012.It will probably not come as a surprise to many of you, and a source of great pride for me, that I am announcing today that I am formally joining the FOREST campaign to fight this insane idea.

As it says in in our mission statement “Liberal Vision exists to promote individual liberty, a free economy and limited government.”   And I have been writing about personal freedom and the nanny state for as long as I have been involved in it (just a selection)….

Enemies of enterprise seek control of tobacco ; The fightback starts here ; Government confirms time travel has been cracked ; Stephen Williams is not a liberal ; battle lines are drawn this is the mother of all fights ; A fat tax is definitively not the answer ; ASH – Abuse of public money must end ; Save our pubs and clubs – join us in Westminster on june 29th ; The mother of all government apologies is just around the corner ; Alcohol poisoning is not an issue for government ; Latest government plans: trivial or just plain wrong ; Chocolate Orange Dave strikes again ; A very unlikely heroine ; Government signals “illicit tobacco welcome here” ; Raising a glass north of the border ; Time to bin ASH before it destroys another part of the economy ; Smoking ban amendment: where were the Lib Dems? ; A big test for David Cameron’s “Big Society mantra”; Can I have my super casino back now?

But there comes a time when you have to stop writing about it and go try doing something about it.

So that is what I am doing. I will post a little later why I think everyone should oppose plain packaging on tobacco. But for now I just wanted to flag up that I am now formally part of the handsoffourpacks campaign and my future blog posts should be considered in that light.

You can now also follow my thoughts or read more about the issue on plain packaging of tobacco at the HandsOffOurPacks website where there is an online petition which I urge you to sign  and ideas about how you can get involved . You can also follow the campaign on twitter and facebook.

More later.

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Move over tobacco there’s a new bad boy in town..

By Angela Harbutt
February 2nd, 2012 at 3:10 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in health, Nannying, Personal Freedom

Tobacco has a rival for being the baddest guy in town.  Not alcohol. Not chocolate. Not Fat.  It’s sugar !

A report over on the BBC website tells us that  Prof Robert Lustig, from California Universitry (obviously), argues in the journal Nature that sugar is the new demon.  Sugar he says is as damaging and addictive as alcohol or tobacco and new policies such as taxes are needed to control soaring consumption of sugar and sweeteners. According to the professor

“It [sugar] meets all the criteria for societal intervention that alcohol and tobacco meet.”

The BBC report goes on to say… “The researchers acknowledge that they face “an uphill political battle against a powerful sugar lobby.  But…with enough clamour for change, tectonic shifts in policy become possible”.

Can you see just how wonderfully well the anti-tobacco industry’s little tricks can be so easily adapted to other food stuffs . Tell people its “addictive”, talk about  “evil corporate companies” (Big Tobacco must more impressive than “powerful sugar lobby” but heh), create a “clamour for change” (that’ll be another two universties agreeing with the first one and all their mates making loud noises). And hey presto you have more than enough to convince the Government that it has to “take action”.

Any suggestion that tobacco control is not leading a huge pack of health lobby groupies, eager to apply any anti-tobacco  successes to their own particular cause and using much the same methods to achieve them, is just laughable.. These Sugar guys are practically using the whole anti-tobacco script unedited goddamnit!.

Of course this report is from a Californian University (I think the same one that had their dabs all over a tobacco plain packaging report some time ago). But don’t get too complacent here in the UK.

Dr Peter Scarborough of the British Heart Foundation,  has already come out today saying that taxing only one type of food could have unintended consequences, such as people cutting back on fruit and vegetables to save money for other purchases. But…(my emphasis)

“If you tax fat, salt and sugar, combined with subsidies for fruit and vegetables, you’ll get healthier diets.”

So that is a fat tax, a salt tax AND a sugar tax. When will it end? I guess when we all put our foot down and say no.

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Australia’s new plain packaging law for cigarettes may have got Andrew Lansley off the hook

By Editor
November 21st, 2011 at 8:48 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in freedom, Government, health, Nannying, Nudge Dredd


HAT TIP : Mark Littlewood (formerly of this parish) has posted an interesting article over on the Daily Mail today. It concerns tobacco plain packaging – but considers it from an angle we’ve not seen elsewhere. In it he suggests that the Australian government may have got Andrew Lansley at the Department of Health off the hook. How ?

“Well, he is a Cabinet minister in a government which claims to support deregulation….Fortunately, the Health Secretary does not need to marshal a whole series of arguments to rebut the case for plain packaging of tobacco (which would, in any event, be quite hard to do – as it is difficult to rebut a case based on no credible evidence whatsoever). He can cancel his promised consultation on the subject (originally anticipated to be launched in the next few weeks), thereby saving everybody a lot of time and effort. He can then sit back and wait for a couple of years and see what independent evidence suggests the impact to be in Australia, if the legal challenge from tobacco companies fails to reverse this intrusion into free expression.”

Click on the link above to read the whole article. It’s an interesting thought. Just how committed is this government to deregulation?

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