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Standing Up For Something… Worth Defending?

July 25, 2010

In a political ploy similar to YouCut, Britain’s new coalition government has launched a website which asks people to give their two cents on which laws they think ought to be repealed, preferably the “intrusive and unnecessary” ones left over from Labour’s long managership that “erode civil liberties” and “are not required”.  What’s the most common suggestion?  You’ll never guess:

In fact, the site has been flooded, overwhelmed and filled with folk wanting the smoking ban repealed; this single subject outdoes all others in terms of comments, numbers of votes and the like. But clearly this isn’t the result Cleggy wanted – so the site’s administrators are doing everything they can to disguise the fact. They’ve hidden ‘smoking’ from the big topic sidebar but included ‘business regulations’ in there. They ‘hide’ posts so that no individual smoking post can attract top numbers, and the search engine is utterly farcical. There are dozens of posts complaining about this distorting admin … which have also been well hidden and difficult to find.

As an example of how a risibly biased and corrupt ‘consultation’ can be manipulated as well by the current government as it was by the last, this web page has no equal.

Color me shockeD.  The feds want the public’s opinion except when the public’s opinion favors something the feds don’t want.  Not exactly a twist in the governmental plot.  Still, though, I don’t understand: what’s the line of reasoning behind steadfastly supporting the smoking ban?  Is it because the NHS can’t afford the social cost of people smoking all the time?  Is it because there’s a huge anti-smoking lobby in Britain?  Is it because the public is overwhelmingly well-disposed to it?  That’s not what the response to the site would insinuate, although the Internet has been wrong before.  How’s Nick Clegg responding to this (that’s the British VP, for the ignorant Yanks)?

Of course there are other suggestions which aren’t going to be taken up by this government . . . the introduction of the death penalty or changing the smoking ban; but at least the debate is now really alive.

Uh, okay.  At least now we’re talking about stuff, even if it’s the stuff that the Administration thinks is “of course” not going to happen.  I’m bothered less by the contempt the British leadership seems to have for its constituency than I am by just why in the hell they’re picking that particular policy among a host of others to simply rule out.  I’m actually curious about this: just what is so great about the smoking ban?  Are British people any healthier for it?  Are health-care costs any lower for it?  Is the citizenry more or less free because of it?

(Via Andrew Stuttaford)

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