Friday, 15 February 2008

Licenced to Smoke

Just when you thought the Nanny State couldn’t get any more cretinous, or the Health Fascists any more insidious than they already are, Professor Julian Le Grand of the London School of Economics demonstrates that there is no depth of foolish bigotry to which pseudo-intellectuals will not sink.

According to this article in the Daily Mail, Le Grand thinks anyone who has the temerity to exercise their freedom of choice by choosing to smoke should have to buy a licence in order to do so, to the tune of £10 per year. Although everyone over 18 would be eligible to apply for the licence, it may have to be approved by their doctor, and would feature deliberately complex forms designed to put people off. Naturally, without the appropriate licence, folks in this allegedly free country wouldn’t be able to buy their smokes. Proceeds from the licence would, allegedly, be donated to the NHS.

I must admit that, having just read this outrageous proposal, I am struggling to find words sufficiently vitriolic to express my views on the subject. To say that I am incensed is a monumental understatement, as, I am certain, will be the almost 25% of people who choose to smoke. Of course, we mustn’t assume that smokers’ views will be worth spit to the preaching, self-satisfied, meddlesome individuals who dream up this kind of nonsense – after all, they have been stuck with a very unwelcome smoking ban for some months now, and, just because enraged citizens haven’t descended on Downing St with a cigg in one hand and a pitchfork in the other, they are deemed to approve of it!

I’ve never heard of this Le Grand guy before, but a little Googling turned up his LSE home page. His personal web site is here. Conveniently, his LSE page contains his phone number and email address – why not drop him a note and let him know exactly what you think of his proposals?

Mind you, I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised at this kind of persecution and interference with smokers’ rights from an individual who was Senior Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister (Blair, not Brown-Trousers) between 2003 and 2005. Anyone who was involved, even remotely, with the biggest spin machine in British political history is, by definition, suspect. Of what? Nothing specific, just generally suspicious and untrustworthy, as this paper readily demonstrates – almost 25% of the British population stabbed in the back AGAIN!

So bizarre are the suggestions in this paper, and so self-evidently out of step with the views of a very large part of the population, that I wonder whether the Government, while contemplating this farcical notion, might consider introducing some other licensing requirements. For example, anyone in line for a Professorship in the field of Social Policy may have to prove, before a panel of qualified cartographers and contortionists, their ability to reliably find their own backsides. Sadly, on current evidence, I suspect that such a requirement would leave the posts largely unfilled.

Billy Seggars.

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