Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing - Gale's View

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has made a constitutional statement. Unfortunately, that statement does not address the matter of English votes for English MPs for English issues, it does not address the matter of a referendum on a European Constitution and it does not discuss the matter of the erosion of our liberties. So it's a pretty poor piece of work!

Far from recognising the right of English MPs to have an exclusive right to vote on matters affecting solely England the Prime Minister has said that he does not accept English votes for English laws because to do so "would create a two-tier parliament".

But we do, of course, already have a two-tier parliament! Our Scottish Prime Minister is allowed to vote in the House of Commons upon matters relating to the school-children of Kent but he is not allowed to vote on matters relating to the schools in his own, Scottish, constituency because those powers belong to the Scottish Parliament!

This is a nonsense. It is all very well and flattering for Mr. Brown to borrow from the Conservative Party proposals for the restoration of powers to parliament, the removal of the Royal Prerogative in matters relating to, for example, the declaration of war and the recall and dissolution of parliament, but what about the issues that matter to real people?

The "European Treaty" is a constitutional wolf in sheep's clothing but this Prime Minister, who wants to give power back to the people, will not allow the people the right to vote on it in a referendum. Why? Why will the Irish vote but the English be denied that right? (Answer: because the Prime Minister knows that he would lose!)

And then there is the small matter of personal liberties.

It may have escaped your notice but this has been "British Pubs Week". In the course of parliamentary duty, therefore, I visited an excellent constituency hostelry in which mine host tells me that post the July 1st smoking ban his trade has been hard hit. His pub is a real pub. Not a plastic- coated ghetto-blasted emporium designed for children drinking out of bottles but a traditional boozer selling traditional beer and hitherto attracting significant numbers of smokers.

His clientele are adults. They know that smoking is bad for their health but they choose to do it and the landlord would like to choose to permit it inside as well as in his smoking yard. Only the law now says that he cannot do so.

When the Nation's Nanny sought to promote the ban I advocated, as a non-smoker myself, a simple solution. Pubs and restaurants are already licensed to sell alcohol. Why should they not, also, be licensed to be either smoking or non-smoking so that customers and staff have the right of choice?

Choice! Not under this Prime Minister, not under this Government and not under the proposed constitution. Under the guise of change we shall, before long, have about as many freedoms as a Saxon serf unless we say, at the earliest opportunity, that we will not elect or re-elect any government that seeks to inhibit our right to choose. Mr. Brown's current constitutional proposals have more to do with political manipulation than they do with democracy. Not a promising start.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Because these smokers who are demanding their rights are also at some point going to spending MY taxes (as a non-smoker) getting treatment through the NHS for something self-inflicted!!! How many emphasemic smokers are now claiming disability?? Smoking isn't just an issue of personal choice and I'm staggered that you cannot see that.

Anonymous said...

I hope your 8:30 poster doesn't drive, cycle, jog, sail or do anything else that's a bit risky and likely to need NHS treatment, because it would be MY taxes that would be spent treating him. (PS: I'm a non-smoker)

Michael Child said...

This is by way of putting the picture in context, ever mindful of the comments on Simon’s blog my wife and I went to look at Margate town centre, frankly it was very depressing and she who was once a resident there was most upset. With Dreamland gone and so many shops closed the heart seems to have gone out of the town.

I have given some thought to what could be done and frankly if, as is now the case, councillors David Green and Roger Latchford can cooperate to the point of enabling temporary leisure use for the Pleasurama site, perhaps something similar could be done with the Dreamland site.

What has happened here is due to both local and national failure of government to protect us from the parasites that have grown rich and strong feeding off our towns and then either deserted the host or are making huge amounts of money redeveloping our leisure sites into residential sites. These the supermarkets large chain stores and amusement operators have become far too hand in glove with our government, powerful lobbyists nationally and something I can’t quite define locally.

There is a limited amount that a second hand bookseller can do for a town but in the first instance I bought a small antiquarian guide to Margate. The illustration is from and the book which is published free and complete at http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/mhb/ I have also reprinted it in normal book form, I hope this will go some way to cheering up the people of Margate.

worm said...

Suppose a non smoker or someone with children should want to frequent this licensed-for-smoking pub. We might get caught in the rain and want to take shelter or be tired from shopping. I would be precluded from doing so unless I was prepared to breath other peoples smoke. What about my right of choice?

Anonymous said...

I applaud the new anti-smoking legislation, which is, of course, in line with developments in many other parts of the world. The UK is in no way unique.

Gale is quite misguided when he talks about "customers and staff" having the right of choice. Customers could, perhaps, choose which pub to frequent, though as the last contributor points out, there could be limitations on that choice. But pub staff have no such choice, unless Gale is going back to the "on your bike" days of Tebbit and co in suggesting that they should simply resign and go and work elsewhere.

Gale and his wife may well be nicely off drawing very big salaries from the public purse (he employs her in his support office) and they may have great employment flexibility and freedom. Sadly that is not so true of those he is talking about in this instance.

Staff deserve to have their health and wider interests protected. This legislation achieves that.

Anonymous said...

Roger Gale says that the "restoration of powers to Parliament" is not an issue that "matter[s] to real people".

Why, then, did he use the Easter Adjournment debate not to raise issues about Thanet, but to criticise the Government for not allowing sufficient time (in his view) for Parliament to discuss the Equality Regulations that caused reported difficulties for the Catholic Church over adoption.

He would seem to have used this important opportunity to raise a constitutional issue (about the role of Parliament) that by his own words does not matter to real people. How odd.

Doctor Doom said...

Glad To see Roger Gale back on form with his latest attack on the recent smoking legislation. As ever, Mr Gale hopes to cash in on the understandable disquiet among the nation’s legal drug addicts, incapable of getting through the day without jacking up on nicotine, to make some feeble-minded knee-jerk comments about the Nanny State and freedom of choice.

Mr Gale’s delightful idea of licensed smoking premises is nothing if not amusing. If civil liberties are so important to him then why not campaign for licensed crack houses, heroin bars and ecstasy clubs where addicts can indulge in their drug of choice without fear of the law? After all, that’s what freedom of choice is all about, surely?

Mr Gale calls for choice. What choice do the children of smokers have when their parents, in the comfort of their own homes, fill their kids’ lungs with a substance universally recognised to be both addictive and lethal?

Of course, children don’t have voting rights, and the very few organisations in this country that stand up for children’s rights don’t donate funds to political parties, so little chance of such enlightened legislation in the foreseeable future.

The real tragedy of the current smoking ban is that it does not ban nicotine outright, classifying it along with other dangerous drugs known to be addictive killers. If the current ban is a small step in that direction then all well and good.

Anonymous said...

I have heard some rubbish talked in this debate about smoking but this suggestion takes the cake. It is in line with the 19th century attitudes that most politicians have in Kent.

Anonymous said...

I suspect Dr Doom was once a nicotine addict! I freely admit I am a smoker and in the tax I have paid in pursuit of my addiction, I am fully entitled to the best care the NHS can provide me. The reality is that I will at least not be a burden on the state in old age as I am unlikely to achieve old age. Could Dr Doom please explain the rise in lung impairment in this country in young children when the number of smoking households has dramatically fallen in the past 25 years? Oh, he drives a polluting car that appears to be a greater risk to our children's health than so called secondary smoking. Its alright to harm our children with vehicle exhaust fumes but they must not have a whiff of tobacco smoke. A majority persecuting a minority based on prejudice and not logical clear thinking. Gale is quite right to highlight a 'freedom' issue here.