Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Nanny State, Police State

Compulsory ID cards one day, smoking 'ban' the next.

The ID card is just another straightforward restriction of a Briton's right to live peacefully in a free society. It is of course wholly a result, a spin-off, of unrestricted immigration and our loss of control over our own borders - indeed our own cities. It will in the first instance be used against Islamic terrorists. It will not end there.

(A prototype ID card can be seen here)

The smoking ban in some ways is even more scary, as it shows the total moral and political confusion of our ruling elite, their lack of any firm political, moral or philosophical foundation for anything they do.

Scots and Welsh MPs voted on a matter which is nothing to do with them. English MPs can't vote on the corresponding Scots and Welsh legislation. Do they have no shame ?

Ministers voted against their own manifesto commitment, just as they did over ID cards.

So-called 'Conservative' MPs voted for a ban.

MPS voted to legislate for private, membership-only institutions - a real blow against freedom.

I'm not unmindful of the health risk to employees and bar staff. But surely air extraction technology is adfvanced enough to keep a bar area clear. Whatever happened to the smoke room, once a sensible feature of old fashioned pubs ? There's no doubt that with goodwill on all sides this problem could be sorted.

But as it turns out, the emotional cries of 'what about the workers ?' from Labour Mps contain 50% crocodile tears by volume. Some workers are more important than others. Nurses and care home staff can breathe smoke for all they care - because for the purposes of the bill care homes are 'private residences'. So can prison officers and staff - because the government are scared of violent reactions from people supposedly in the power of the State if 'snout' is taken away. Tells you everything about our rulers. Besides, what would they mix their dope with ?

Arrested individuals can still smoke in the back of the police car.

Oh, and there'll still be one place - and only one place - where you can have a fag with your beer.

The Houses of Parliament. I can't understand why 'one rule for us' wasn't in the manifesto.

But it's the principle that gets me - and that was conceded a long time ago, with motorcycle helmet and seat belt legislation. The principle that public health justifies the restriction of freedoms - particularly the restriction of freedom even in private institutions (which should not be a government's business) potentially has no limits.

You could present a perfectly good case on the grounds of public health for making illegal

Alcohol

Homosexuality

Fornication and Adultery

(There is one political force in the UK which would like all of the above to be implemented. Probably just coincidence.)

6 comments:

John Farren said...

The absurd part is, how many bar staff do you know who don't smoke in the first place?

Anonymous said...

the streets are bad enough on a saturday night when the pubs close.

but now you'll have the yobs standing around OUTSIDE the pubs.

crazy.

Squander Two said...

Er, no, that's not an absurd point. That bars are smoky is one of the reasons why non-smokers avoid working in them. That's part of the Government's argument, not a refutement of it.

I'm against you on the seatbelt thing, Laban, because not wearing them harms others. If you're driving a car, you have a responsibility to stay in control of it. A lot of crashes are minor, and wearing a seatbelt makes the difference between being knocked unconscious on the steering wheel and losing control of a perhaps still-moving vehicle and staying awake and in control. Also, a lot of serious accidents are made worse by seatbeltless drivers being hurled into the path of traffic that would otherwise not be involved. There's no reason anyone should have a legally protected right to leap headfirst into oncoming traffic, even if they have just come through a windscreen.

DumbJon said...

That bars are smoky is one of the reasons why non-smokers avoid working in them. That's part of the Government's argument, not a refutement of it.

So ? You don't get a lot of Catholics working at abortion clinics. There's no right to work in any particular place. Even assuming there is a risk from passive smoke - and that's a big if - is it qualitively worse than the risks in coal mining, scaffolding or farming ? There surely can't be anyone on the planet who hasn't heard the prohibitionist argumenta about passive smoking, but folks who work in bars have decided to ignore them, so now they're reverting to thuggish type.

Squander Two said...

Don't get the wrong idea, Jon: I'm against the ban. I was merely pointing out that the but-all-bar-staff-smoke-anyway argument is not a good way of arguing against the Government, since it is one of the Government's own arguments.


> There's no right to work in any particular place.

No, but you can have your benefits docked for refusing to take a job. As long as that's the case, working conditions will be the Government's business. Unfortunately.


> is it qualitively worse than the risks in coal mining, scaffolding or farming ?

But measures are taken to make coal mining as safe as possible. The dangers in coal mining are a necessary part of the job, not extra dangers added for the hell of it. There is an argument that tobacco smoke in bars is not a necessary part of the job.


> Even assuming there is a risk from passive smoke - and that's a big if

No, it isn't an if. What has not been proven is the size of the risk. Unless you can propose a mechanism whereby tobacco smoke behaves differently depending on whether or not the lung it finds itself in belongs to the person who owns the cigarette, you have to accept that second-hand smoke is a risk.

Which isn't to say it should be banned. It could well be a risk similar in size to the risk from drinking unpasteurized milk. But, when the anti-anti-smoking lobby rightly point out that the anti-smoking lobby use bad science, it somewhat undermines their case to misinterpret the lack of proof of the extent of the risk as a lack of proof that the risk exists. They're two very, very different things.

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