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Thursday, 10 January 2013

Back to Black

This is a spoofed image - Andrew Black's presentation on How to rig a public consultation
You would be forgiven for thinking otherwise, based on everything we know about the so-called public consultation of plain packaging of tobacco products to date, but the above image is spoofed.  Not genuine. Fake.  The original image is here, and it was captured from a PDF of a presentation that Andrew Black gave to a host of unelected, interfering, thieving technocrats at the WHO headquarters in Geneva on 16 March 2012.

Curiously, the presentation is listed under the heading of "Effective domestic consultation" in the final programme for the two-day workshop on trade-related issues (indeed, the PDF (found here) is named "Effective domestic consultation - UK"):

Domestic my arse!
It is curious not because of the word "effective" (which it certainly will be for the New Inquisition) but instead because of the word "domestic."  You see, when we think about UK public consultations, we assume that the consultations are domestic consultations meant exclusively for the British public and businesses to respond with their views.  This assumption is wrong.  As a matter of fact, any nation's government and population outside of the EU can respond to a UK public consultation, including countries like Brazil or, say, North Korea and its ideologically-twinned sister nation, Australia.  More important, any responses from foreign entities outside of the UK (or the EU, if we choose to make that exception) will be included and passed on to British MPs.  So it would seem that the words "public" or "domestic" no longer hold their true meanings when it comes to the affairs of Britons.

I am, of course, every bit as shocked as anyone else might be by the revelation that Australia's government would respond to a UK public consultation as well as have the temerity to ask for an extension of time to respond.  But there is nothing at all preventing any foreign person, organisation or government from responding to a UK public consultation.  Nothing.  I know, because I've spent the past several days reading everything I could find about the rules and procedures for UK consultations. There are only recommended guidelines, which say nothing about who is entitled to respond.  (If I missed something, please advise in the comments.)

The consultation document itself reads:
"The purpose of this consultation is to seek the views of interested people, businesses and organisations on a policy initiative that would require the packaging of tobacco products to be standardised [...]"
And it lists the "target audience" as:
PCT Cluster CEs, NHS Trust CEs, SHA Cluster CEs, Directors of PH, Local Authority CEs, Businesses, Public Health Organisations, Academics, Members of the Public
I don't see anything about foreign governments or citizens from other countries as acceptable respondents.  But then again, I don't see anything that excludes foreign governments and their citizens.  So this is the problem. A lack of clarity and definition. We have wrongly assumed that UK public consultations were intended to be solely domestic matters (or perhaps EU-wide).  This is what we get for making assumptions, I suppose.

Back to the purpose of a consultation, is it really to seek the views of interested people?  Do your opinions really matter?  Perhaps not, according to the sixth slide of Andrew Black's presentation:

Andrew Black doesn't give a fuck what you think, plebs
Allow me to put that slide into proper perspective by translating it for us plebs. What it really says is this:
  • Through consultation, the Tobacco Programme group of the Department of Health seeks to include only our views, the evidence we asked to be created and the wholly-biased opinions of those who have vested interests in tobacco control.
  • All other opinions will be de-emphasised and/or discarded in order to give Government a one-sided view and shore up our agenda.
  • The people most likely to respond, apart from tobacco controllers and the public health religion's grand inquisitors, are those who will be detrimentally affected and they do not count.
And what better way to ensure all of the above than to install your own people, namely Andrew Black, to oversee the entire consultation process, from start to finish, to obtain the results you want.  To get a better picture of what I mean, we need to look no further than what the Tobacco Programme is, in Andrew Black's own words (PDF - page 22, section
The Tobacco Programme at the Department of Health (DH) is the national coordinating mechanism for the United Kingdom for non-devolved aspects of tobacco control policy.
So, it all starts there, almost every last bit of smoker hate and deception originates from the DH's Tobacco Programme.  All of the taxpayer-funded anti-smoker groups, like Smokefree South West or Fresh NE to name but only two, all answer to the Tobacco Programme Manager, Andrew Black.   That's right, Black coordinates their every move.

And, incredulously, this is the guy put in charge of the consultation?  Can we really expect any impartiality?

I think we all know the answer to that.  I think we all know what to expect.

The only question left is:  What are we going to do about it?