One of Britain's most senior doctors summed up the widespread despair: "If they're going to take all these backward steps, then what's next? Scrapping the seatbelt or drink-driving laws? Relaxing or even repealing the ban on smoking in public places? Or getting rid of speeding restrictions? Yes, all these things limit individual freedom, but they also save many lives."
Really? They're worried that the smoking ban might be relaxed or repealed? I'm worried that it won't be. But if they're worried that it will be, then maybe they know something that I don't know. Or maybe it's just that if there's the faintest sign that they're not going to get their planned next phase in persecuting and demonising and excluding smokers and drinkers and fat people on time, they start screaming and wailing about "backward steps".
Scrap the seatbelt law? I wouldn't mind. It was the thin end of the wedge, a long time ago. If I'd known what was coming down the track after it, I'd have fought tooth and nail against it. Drink-driving? Yes, that could go too. Speed restrictions? Those as well. The lot.
At least they admit that these things limit individual freedom. And maybe they save a few lives. I'm not even sure about that, actually. The attitude of these people is one of complete contempt for freedom. If they thought they could save one life by having everyone locked up in a cell every day all their lives, they'd be screaming for it to be done.
Everyone knows Britain has huge health problems caused by smoking, drinking and poor food. The coalition's path so far is not just the wrong direction of travel; it is also utterly inadequate as a response to the scale of the problems we face. Rethink the state's role in this difficult area, by all means, but remember that without government action, public hygiene would still be Victorian, immunisation and disease screening nonexistent, and pubs the horribly smoky places of not too distant memory. Ideology should never trump common sense in matters of life and death.
Does "everyone know" that Britain has "huge" health problems "caused" by smoking, drinking, and poor food? I don't. In fact I don't believe a single word of it.
Right now, in 2010, Britain is the best it's ever been fed in its entire history. We've got a large and growing variety of foods. We have the widest choice ever. The food is the most fresh, bug-free, and toxin-free that it's ever been. We're living in a culinary golden age. What these bastards mean by "poor food" is too much of it, and too much of a sort they don't approve of - i.e. tasty.
Nor do I believe that there are any health problems at all "caused" by smoking, drinking, and "poor" food. I don't believe that passive smoking kills anyone at all. And I strongly doubt that active smoking does either. Same for drink, pretty much, apart from George Best. Britain's "huge health problems" are a complete fabrication. If it had such health problems, how come people are living longer and longer?
The entirely imaginary "huge health problem" has been created simply by defining anyone who's a bit chubby as being "clinically obese", and by defining smokers and drinkers to have "unhealthy" lifestyles. Not unhealthy because they get sick more often. No. Just unhealthy because these insane doctors say they're unhealthy, regardless of how well they might feel.
If it was down to me, I'd round up all those Nazi senior doctors, and all the crazed nutritionists and barking health experts and smoking cessation therapists, and line them all up and shoot the lot of them. And then next day I'd tear down all the No Smoking signs, and almost all the road signs, and tell everybody that they could eat what they liked, drink what they liked, and smoke what they liked.
But that's just me. I suspect that if I was actually in government, there'd be people saying, 'You can't do that, Frank. It's illegal.' or something stupid like that.
So what's the government up to? They've convinced me that they're not going to do anything about the smoking ban. But they seem to have convinced the doctors that they might amend or repeal it. Which is it?
Perhaps the government just aren't telling anybody what they're going to do. They're not telling smokers. And they're not telling doctors either by the looks of it.
I wonder... what I would actually do if I was in government, after I'd been convinced against my better judgment that 'You can't just shoot them all, Frank'. Well, I guess I'd set about it a bit more slowly. I'd lop down a branch here and a branch there off the vast edifice of Nazi public health lifestyle interfering killjoy management that's grown up over the past decade. I'd keep saying that, yes, all that lifestyle crap matters, while I was sawing their legs off. Instead of solving the problem in one fell swoop, I'd fix it in stages.
Divide and conquer. That's how I'd do it. I'd promise some of them ring-fenced funding for life, if they didn't make a fuss about cuts elsewhere. That way I'd keep them in line, and prevent an outburst of wailing and gnashing of teeth. And then, when I'd completed the first tranche of cuts, I'd announce that, sorry, some of those ring-fencing promises are going to have to be broken, because we're broke. After about 5 iterations, I'd have managed to close the whole thing down. Including ASH, BHF, RCP, and all the rest of the fake charities. The last turn of the screw would be to tell the lot of them that they wouldn't get their golden parachute payments or their pensions. Sorry, Sir Liam, but we're broke. You'll just have to get a job washing dishes somewhere.
And no, I wouldn't review the smoking ban. I wouldn't amend it. I wouldn't repeal it. Because as best I know there are provisions in the Act which allow extensions and modifications of it. These were intended for bans on smoking in cars, on the streets, at home, being brought in without further parliamentary supervision. I'd use these provisions to bring in my own small modification, which would be to suspend the Act until further notice, due to 'unforeseen difficulties' or 'industry representations' or - best of all - 'climate change'.
Oh yes, and I'd make sure that it wasn't discussed in the media. There'd be no more any debate about the suspension of the the smoking ban than there was about the imposition of it. It would be like nothing had happened. The news that day would be 'The government today announced the suspension of the Health Act 2006, in particular those provisions in respect of smoking in public places. In other news, the Prime Minister said that he's thinking of wearing ties of a light blue colour rather than a dark blue colour. We have a big report on that coming up from our fashion reporters.'
Yes, that's how I'd do it. And I'd do it behind a screen of fine-sounding words about the need for lifestyle management, and further restrictions, and more bans.
And then (and here's the cool bit), I'd call an election. And I'd remind the British people of what the Labour party did to them over 13 years, and ask the electorate whether they want to go through that again. And I'd win the votes of all the grateful smokers and drinkers and fat people - which is pretty much everybody. Even I would vote for me. And the only votes the Labour party would get would be from a couple of people in Dorking, who put their cross in the wrong box by accident. It would be a landslide victory.
Hmmmm... It works for me. Perhaps I shouldn't give up on this coalition government just yet?