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Wednesday, 26 August 2009
Iain Dale the wallflower
The country's top blogger, Iain Dale, has just discovered a large downside of the smoking ban for non-smokers.
Dale is ambivalent to the smoking ban debate - he neither agrees nor disagrees - but errs occasionally on the side of freedom of choice, so his discovery of state-enforced bad manners isn't cause for gleeful gloating.
UPDATE: As Iain himself points out in the comments, he more than errs on the side of freedom of choice, he is an opponent of the ban. Very happy to put that straight. Now onto the issue raised by his tweet.
However, it does bring up a salient point about the authoritarian nature of the ban. That of the personal predilections of the individual being steam-rollered by government who profess to 'know better'.
As a Conservative, Dale will be very familiar with the toast to 'The Queen' at sumptuous feasts and fund-raisers. This was a respectful nod to the monarch, always once everyone had finished eating, and mostly before the after-dinner speaker.
Dining guests who wished to finish off their evening with a cigar and an entertaining orator would strictly obey the rule of 'no smoking before The Queen'.
Smokers can understand that many non-smokers would find it irritating should someone light up while they were eating, but 'The Queen' was a threshold that none would cross in respect for that very reason. The result was an atmosphere of good manners and tolerance of the wishes of others.
While the modern pack 'em in and turf 'em out, eat whenever you like, approach by restaurants doesn't lend itself to such niceties, there are other restaurants which apply rigid seating times, to which such an arrangement would be perfectly feasible. Unfortunately, Labour have decided that no owner of any establishment should be permitted such a choice.
The hard-line authoritarian nature of the ban is even more stark in pubs where, prior to the 2005 general election, they had a choice, smoking or food. Many would have chosen to keep their smoking customers and dispensed with the deep fat fryer. They were denied that choice entirely undemocratically by a government which reneged on its manifesto commitment in outrageous fashion.
And as for 'cigar bars', such as this fine one in Belgravia, the legislation is even more oppressive and disgraceful. The clue to the air-wavers and fake-coughers is in the description of the premises. No like? No enter.
Dale may well have preferred that his guests continue the conversation, with his permission, at the table (he may not have, but he doesn't have a say anymore). The owner may well have no objections either, or any of the other customers, yet all that is swept away by the opinion of Labour's nanny front bench. They know better, you see.
The same scenario is played out in every pub, up and down the country, on every night of the week. It is always rude for friends to leave a conversation to go outside for a cigarette/pipe/cigar, but what other choice is there?
None, because Labour have taken it away whether the non-smokers in attendance, or the owner of the property, care or not.
The only rude ones here are those who thought the Health Act 2006 was a good idea.