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Saturday, 4 May 2013

Back in Black

Just about everybody knows by now that the UK is not planning to proceed with plain packaging (or standardised packs, as the anti-smokers are now calling them) for tobacco products.  And while it looks we've finally had some success after over a decade of being denormalised and tortured by public health zealots, I'm not holding my breath that this is the end of it. It is possible, perhaps you could say very likely, that plain packs will be mandated through back door EU legislation at some point in the future.  But for now, I'm pleased to say that it appears, as of today anyway, that common sense has prevailed for once.

Naturally, the anti-smoker rhetoric from the True Believers on Twitter has reached hyper-hysterical proportions. You know it's bad for the anti-smokers when they tweet to random celebrities, who were never part of a conversation on Twitter, in a sad, desperate attempt to find someone -- anyone -- famous to support their cause. Like this one from Nick Hopkinson (@COPDdoc) trying to drag Owen Jones into the plain packaging debate:

If the name Nick Hopkinson sounds familiar, he's that ... er... annoying twat? ... hopeless lunatic? ... let's just say "that guy" who incessantly tweets about Tesco's tobacco displays.  I admit that I had great fun winding him up with the following petty tweet on Twitter yesterday:

Well, I don't really want to spend more time writing about anti-smoker morons on Twitter.  No, there's something far more serious to blog about.

I would like to tell you a story.

This is a story about deception, about lies through omission, about mainstream media propaganda, and at the heart of this torrid tale both the evil villains known as The Dreadful, and her faithful minion, the Department of Health's Tobacco Programme Manager, Mr Andrew Black.

Without further ado, let us don our tin-foil hats and travel Back in Black.

Back in Black
A Tale of Deception

by Jay

Once upon a time there was a journalist named Sam Masters who wrote an article for The Independent.  He titled this shabby piece of anti-smoker propaganda "Tobacco lobby told Government: branding ban will cost you millions."  The article Sam Masters wrote began with:
"Department of Health civil servants met lobbyists from the cigarette manufacturer Imperial Tobacco before the Government shelved proposals to introduce plain packaging laws this week, it can be revealed."
The journalist's use of the word "lobbyists" to describe two representatives from Imperial Tobacco was an inaccuracy. One might be tempted to say it was a bald-faced lie. But let us not quibble over semantics, for we only need to read a bit more of the article to understand why journalist Sam Masters used the term lobbyists instead of representatives.  

From a top-floor office in Hatton Garden in central London, the headquarters of the New Inquisition in England, the evil queen of propaganda known colloquially as The Dreadful opened her gob, revealing her dangerous, pointy fangs, and let out the most horrible, ear-piercing scream anyone in the world had ever heard. Children up to fifty miles away suffered The Dreadful's wails and cried for help, but there was no help to give. Some have said that The Dreadful's scream caused several signal failures on the Tube's Central Line, and chalk cliffs to crumble and fall into the sea on the Jurassic coast in Dorset, but these claims cannot be substantiated. And when the scream finally died out, The Dreadful, still hysterical and drenched with her venomous spittle, said, "The tobacco industry clearly tried to use this meeting with officials to lobby against standard packaging rather than provide any hard evidence."

This was also inaccurate.  Yet hardly surprising, for no person can remember the last time The Dreadful spoke the truth.  Indeed, it was always The Dreadful's job to lie or distort the truth to support her wicked agenda of denormalisation.

An artist's stylised depiction of The Dreadful, presumably in happier days

The truth was that The Dreadful's minion, who is a friend of fellow Australian, The Root of All Evil, had invited the representatives of Imperial to his lair at Wellington House near Waterloo Station. Because The Dreadful's minion, Andrew Black, had to do this as part of the Impact Assessment of the so-called public consultation on plain packaging of tobacco products, a process by which everyone knew was always designed to destroy tobacco companies' ability to distinguish their brands from their competitors' brands.  So to see the truth, one must be willing to look at the actual freedom of information release:

How strange that journalist Sam Masters failed to mention this information. Stranger still is this anonymous minister's quote in Sam Master's propaganda piece:
"[a] minister familiar with the consultation process, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Independent: “My concern is that the tobacco companies have inveigled their way into persuading a number of important players to reject standardised packaging.”
Which minister said that and why would he or she choose to be anonymous?  This was suspicious. Some had claimed that it came from a member of a secretive cabal hell-bent on eradicating a quarter of the British population, a nasty and vile group called the APPG on Smoking on Health. Alas, no evidence was to be found that the quote did come from that cabal.

And even stranger than all of what has already been written is the Department of Health's decision to once again selectively release a sole freedom of information request ("FOI") when almost all other FOIs are not published on-line and kept hidden from the public's view, unless a brave warrior knows the precise magic words and means to release the FOI from the Department of Health's information repository.

There can be only one reason for the Department of Health to do this (we can never know if Andrew Black is responsible, however, but it does seem possible):

To deceive the public with false propaganda.

But it came too late. Because good people like you thwarted the anti-smokers' New Inquisition by writing to your MPs and telling them to oppose plain packs. You and countless others won the battles on Facebook and Twitter, too! You are heroes, all of you. Yes, you, dear readers! Your herculean efforts foiled the New Inquisition's dastardly plans for control and domination. The world is a safer place. The world thanks you.

And so the Dreadful and her minions have lost the war for plain packaging and they have grown most desperate. Everything that the New Inquisition will spew forth now and in the future will be woeful pleas and hateful deceptions designed to fool the unwary and unthinking.

Beware! Beware all Britons! Beware world! These are dark, Black days and you must remain vigilant. The Dreadful and her sheep-minions from hell will stop at nothing to make you believe in their fairy tales and sorrowful conspiracy theories. Armed with brainwashing ray guns, they will use slogans obtained from the darkest pits of the anti-smoker underworld that say "Put Our Kids First" and "Put Kids First," which are designed to make you feel, not think.  Do not be fooled by these powerful deceptions. Know that only the evillest of all evil beings will invoke the "protect the children" incantations to sway opinion.

There is nothing to fear, however. In the fullness of time, in a more enlightened era, it will come to pass that the world will not look kindly upon The Dreadful and Andrew Black and the others who belong to the New Inquisition. These evil creatures who believe in censorship, bans and prohibition, and those who give them quarter will be despised for all eternity.

And the world will once again be a happy place full of sunshine and bunnies, with freedom and civil liberties for all.

The End

Update (Sunday, 5 May 2013):  Simon Clark also writes about the Independent article here.  I wonder if he saw the above?  And the Guardian also covers the story with another nasty quote from The Dreadful:
"It looks as if the noxious mix of rightwing Australian populism, as represented by Crosby and his lobbying firm, and English saloon bar reactionaries, as embodied by [Nigel] Farage and Ukip, may succeed in preventing this government from proceeding with standardised cigarette packs, despite their popularity with the public."
Translation:  Toys. Thrown. From. Pram.