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Friday, 25 June 2010

Spaniards should take the bull by the horns

A guest post by Kin-free

Spanish Politicians:

It’s Time to Face Down the Bull ! The bullfight is in progress, The bullshit is flying: Will you grasp the Muleta and Espada?

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Can you see the bull Spain? Look around you, it has left plenty of clues to its presence; those are not portions of paella that you think you see, but piles of its rancid smelling ‘calling cards’! Look in the shadows and you will see it snorting and pawing the ground, patiently waiting for you to consume its contribution to Spanish politics, ready to charge, pounce, trample and gore your country!

Spain - Health Minister, Trinidad Jiménez announces that The ban on smoking in all public places comes to Congress with sufficient support and WILL enter into force expected on 1st January 2011. There is no hint of any doubt - it WILL happen, according to Jimenez that is! Funny that, because it was only in February that Jimenez was unable to garner anywhere near enough support for a ban and had to postpone a parliamentary debate on tougher anti-smoking legislation;

“ Bar and restaurant owners vehemently oppose the ban, saying it could force the closure of 70,000 establishments and kill 200,000 jobs.”

“The opposition conservatives said they disapproved of 'coercion' “.

In January 2010 in a straw poll by The Independent on Sunday of Spanish pub and bar landlords,...(contrary to ‘official’ (unrepresentative) claims of 70% public support) Nine out of 10 were ferociously opposed to the ban

So, moderate politicians and members of the hospitality trade are aware of the potential adverse consequences of the implementation of a draconian smoke ban and they will also be aware of the present general state of their economy even if they may not be aware of the damning detail; In many ways, the economic situation in Spain is now even worse than the economic situation in Greece;

Unemployment is already above 20% (4.6 million); 1.6 million unsold properties, six times the level per capita in the US; total debt has reached 270 percent of GDP; “Stripped of its AAA status pushes Spain to the edge of financial oblivion”.

Spain is unquestionably in financial dire straits, YET astonishingly, anti-smokers are STILL intent on imposing a smoking ban that WILL decimate Spain's tourism and hospitality industry. The inevitable damage is potentially far greater than the destruction caused in the UK and truly highlights the fanaticism of a few deluded anti-smokers and how far they are prepared to go in pursuit of their invidious goals. Why though, are Spain’s moderate political class apparently running alongside them, headlong towards the precipice like blinkered lemmings? Why do previously dissenting politicians now apparently think this is a good policy, contrary to previously held principles? What has changed in less than three months to precipitate such an apparently exceptional about-turn in smoking ban support?

One important clue comes directly from Jimenez; “The ban on smoking [HAS] sufficient support.” ... and WILL enter into force”. This reminded me immediately of a quote in a Guardian article back in 2006, aptly entitled ‘Smoke and Mirrors’. That quote was from Deborah Arnott (Director of ASH) explaining how she and her cohorts had conned English politicians to do a similar about-turn, abandoning their principles and voting for a draconian smoke ban;

“It is essential that campaigners create the impression of inevitable success. Campaigning of this kind is literally a confidence trick: the appearance of confidence both creates confidence and demoralises the opposition. The week before the free vote we made sure the government got the message that we "knew" we were going to win and it would be better for them to be on the winning side.”

Is Jimenez today using the same confidence trick, using the twin deceptions of false inevitability and fabricated support, by reference to existing  junk and pseudo science, exaggerated claims of smoking harm, questionable popularity polls and what the Guardian describes as ‘sharp’ tactics? That the whole anti-smoker issue is a con trick is beyond question to the informed, that it is rooted in an ideology, long since thought to have been defeated by good men is plainly obvious to a few and will eventually be recognized by the majority, but whether it is presently sustained, by people like Arnott or Jimenez, due to malice, recklessness, incompetence, negligence or naivety is not for me to say. I would suggest that it is a combination, to varying degrees, of all of these factors. The confidence trick used to influence Spanish politicians is almost an exact carbon copy of that used by the UK anti-smoker lobby in 2006. The tactics used are so similar that it is difficult not to suspect that Jimenez is merely a puppet of ASH UK.

Puppet or not, a recent report indicates that Jiminez may have succeeded in converting good politicians using the anti-smoker ‘confidence trick’. This report indicates far greater success than has been seen in any vote anywhere; not just a majority but; “Tough anti-smoking legislation gets unanimous support in parliament” indicating no political dissent whatsoever? The article is ambiguous to say the least but an anonymous poster on the story states that only TWO votes were made against the proposal (to clarify the omissions in the article). It does not ‘ring true’ but If it is true then searching questions need to asked as to how support has magically changed to unanimous from a position of not insubstantial repudiation, in the space of only a few short months. This MUST raise concerns about the Spanish political process. The anti-smoker con trick leading up to the English vote in 2006 while turning weaker MP’s, did not convince the majority of conservative party - and that was at a time when anti-smoker rhetoric was far more believable - before most of it was exposed as fallacious. It would be incredible if Spain’s Partido Populqr opposition party has folded on this issue, bearing in mind it has historically defended smokers and freedom to choose.

The article however has not been confirmed by other sources so is this an example of poor journalism or, just possibly, an extension of the anti-smoker false inevitability and fabricated support tactic intended to ‘demoralise the opposition’? (The cynic in me asks, could it be a week or so before the real and relevant vote?), either way, questions need to be asked.

How was the ‘sting’ perpetrated ?

While the foundations were laid several decades ago by people such as Hitler in Germany (fanatical, ideological tendencies), followed by Richard Doll in the UK (representing polluting industry) and Ernst Wynder in the USA (alleged fanatical religious tendencies), the central plank of the current ‘con trick’ was set in motion by Sir George Godber at the 1975 World Conference on Smoking and Health where antismoking activists were urged to;

FOSTER an atmosphere in which it was PERCEIVED that active smokers would injure those around them, ESPECIALLY their family and any infants or young children…” and “convey the impression that smoking is a dirty, anti-social practice”

Plenty of debase characters since then have pervertedly enjoyed pushing Godbers ‘filthy smoker’ impression and promoted hatred of smokers. Godber’s activist edict was proclaimed well before any research was done into ‘passive smoking’ (ETS) and heralded the most extensive, expensive, unprecedented raft of misinformation and debasement of medical science, as activists sought to follow his direction to the letter. As Arnott inadvertently points out, this resulted in redefining the debate from one (correctly) related to freedom and rights and turned it (fallaciously) into a debate about ‘health’.

“We changed the terms of the debate to health and safety at work. We argued that secondhand smoke is a killer”

Of course it is now well known that second hand smoke is NOT a killer, except in the eyes of the anti-smoker lobby or those too apathetic to look beyond the official propaganda. Anti-tobacco alarmists continue to make this fallacious claim but many other, well qualified people, have evaluated the so called ‘evidence’ and found it seriously wanting in terms of proof of harm. In fact the evidence often proves the opposite, particularly relating to children.(eg. Boffetta et al - that ETS has a protective effect on children is the study’s only significant finding) The passive smoking scam is well documented and widely available in the public domain (but will not be found in swamping anti-tobacco sources) and I could have provided many examples but a clear critique can be found in this short video, or in this short article. Both explain in simple terms how ethical, impartial science relating to passive smoking has been compromised.

One of the most recent scientists to blow the whistle on the passive smoking fraud is the recently retired Prof Phillipe Even, previously dean of the prestigious French research institute Necker;

”Clearly, the harm is either nonexistent, or it is extremely low. ... By waving the threat of passive smoking, they found a tool that really works: social pressure. ... I do not think it is good to legislate on a lie.”

Despite scientists like Prof Even, many so called ‘respected’ members of the anti-smoker medical/scientific community would swear on the grave of their mothers that passive smoking represents a serious threat to public health, disregarding the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. This merely begs the question - how much of what they or their predecessors claim, can be trusted AND how many years/decades have they been lying to promote a pre-determined agenda? Does the anti-smoker deception pre-date and extend way beyond the simple and isolated parameters of passive smoking - to its very conception a generation ago? Has this deception prevented relevant research and caused untold deaths as a result? Claims are made that for instance, in the developed world, asthma is caused by smoking exposure, but as smoking prevalence has reduced over the years, asthma prevalence has exploded, as have most cancers, including lung cancer! The claim that quitting smoking will have health benefits using widely acclaimed but dubious ‘estimates’ based on statistical study has been shown to be wrong as ultimately, end results contradict those studies. Now apparently, nearly one in two men and more than one in three women will contract some form of cancer in their lifetime! This information should spark introspection in any open mind.

The anti-smoker campaign draws on some of mans oldest and most powerful natural instincts including (but not exclusively) varying degrees of Greed, Self interest, Pride, a touch of Envy and sometimes, simply survival.

If the ‘targets’ of the con-trick begin to believe that a smoking ban is inevitable then they abandon thoughts of equity or fairness and regress to base instincts; “What’s In it for ME”, “How can I turn this to MY advantage” or “How can I protect myself or my group from unemployment, bankruptcy or the worst of the financial and social fallout”. Splitting the opposition is one of the oldest tricks in the book - but people still fall for it! The simplest part of the con is to get the greed factor fired up and claim that non smokers will swarm and multiply to replace smokers - “Get rid of those filthy smokers and you will be ‘quids in’!”. It is now clearer than ever that this HAS NOT and WILL NOT happen! (If it sounds too good to be true, then chances are it is too good to be true!).

I wonder how many Spanish promises have been made to businesses/groups for ‘special’ concessions or ‘inferred’ protection to those gullible enough to listen? “support us and we will look after you - nudge nudge: wink wink.” Conversely, how many politicians or union officials have been pressured and coerced into believing that it is their ‘duty’ to protect the health of ‘their’ people and ‘must’ act in their interests? How many have been conned into believing they will be isolated and out on a limb if they actually stand by their principles and represent the true interests of their people rather than a few anti-smoker fanatics? Don’t you believe them !! Do NOT believe it !!

One of the best examples of greed in action is the large UK pub companies. They fell for the nudge nudge: wink wink chestnut and supported the smoke ban in the UK, no doubt thinking they were large enough to weather the storm and increase their market share as small independent pubs, one by one, were driven to the wall. Well, many small independents did fail by the hundreds - BUT so did the large pub companies. Many have been liquidated, others have seen the value of their companies plummet, and have been seen desperately trying to offload their pub stock by any means and finding they are now clinging to existence by their fingernails.

The unions, deceived into thinking they were protecting the health of their members, have seen those members lose their jobs by the thousand. The UK public sector HAS seen a massive increase in non-jobs, created to enforce smoke bans and ‘encourage’ smokers to quit, or ‘encourage’ drinkers to curb their alcohol intake or ‘encourage’ the obese to eat according to state guidelines, use the right bin for their rubbish, the right energy saving light bulb Etc. Etc. Etc. but these jobs are not self financing like the jobs they replaced. They are an expensive drain on the taxpayer putting at risk essential front line services. These too are now being drastically cut while the unions squirm and impotently plead for mercy.

In Spain I see that trades unions are claimed to be supporters, what incentives have they been ‘promised’ or what coercion have they been pressured with I wonder? Also what of those associated with bullfighting, smokers clubs etc where they have been led to believe that they will be exempted but now find Jimenez stating; “..the climate was ‘very favourable’ to go ‘even further and be more ambitious’” (ie. YOU’RE the next on the list to be stuffed!)

It may surprise some that those UK politicians, pub company execs, union officials and others, who have been right royally shafted, are not screaming “FOUL” but are re-affirming their decisions as “the right thing to do”. Think about it logically and it is not surprising at all. It takes a great deal of courage for any person (let alone public figures) to admit to being foolish or gullible, that their underlying character of greed or self interest has been exploited! Rather than risk humiliation, they become reluctant, or even more vocal supporters of the scam to try and ‘save face’. To retain their dignity, abnegation often takes over, or pride and self-interest is compounded even further. They do not want to be associated with those who Arnott describes as;

“opponents [who were] often foolish” and “exposed as Incompetent or insubstantial”.

Fortunately, some do have the courage of their convictions and are prepared to ‘bite the bullet’ and tell it as it is. One thing the Spanish politicians have that British politicians didn’t is the benefit of the British experience of the anti-smoker confidence trick. It will be far harder for Spanish victims to admit to being gullibly taken-in, after having been alerted to the earlier British confidence trick, repackaged in the same livery and used again on them.

If Spanish politicians allow anti-smoker fanatics to suck the life blood out of Spain they can expect to be treated the same as those in other countries where the political class has failed their people - at the ballot box. Make no mistake, when politicians betray their people, whether intentionally, by incompetence, gullibility, negligence, or naivety, they WILL ‘reap the whirlwind’. The UK Labour party saw their terminal problems begin around the time they broke their manifesto pledge on reasonable smoking restrictions and forced a total smoking ban upon the British people. The public did not want an extensive ban but they were ignored and the Labour party instead supported a fanatical lobby group and fell for a confidence trick laced with fixed polls and pseudo science. They were foolish, never recovered from that time onward, and were dismissed by the voting public earlier this year. Many reasons were mooted to explain their rejection and they have much to answer for, but the principle reason was their betrayal of the people, demonstrated in no better way than the smoking ban.

A similar vote of confidence was demonstrated by the public in the recent Dutch Elections. The People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), that are the strongest critic of their smoking ban, won the most support while the party seen as the chief supporters/engineers of their smoking ban, the Christian Democrats, were DESTROYED! The most important principle for the VVD has always been individual freedom. This principle is becoming increasingly desirable in most progressive political circles in the face of a more informed electorate, as an alternative to out-of-control state control. Smoke bans are one of the most overt manifestations of the out-of-control state and the extreme opposite to individual freedom. Take note Spain!

Contrary to what you may have been led to believe, very few European countries have copied the malignant ban adopted by Britain. Many, the most recent being Bulgaria, have already faced down the righteous beast, the back-scratching society of the fanatical new temperance movement, undemocratic EU bureaucrats and the ‘comfortable’ WHO/ Big Pharma coalition. More can be expected to follow this example as democratic tolerance and common sense is reclaimed. Don’t fall for that false inevitability and fabricated support; there are many positive signs that the web of deceit underpinning these is collapsing.

When you are called upon to validate the new Spanish smoking restrictions, will you face down the bull in the room? Do you have the courage to run with your muleta, strike with your espada and later to dine on fresh beefsteak, or will you foolishly turn your back on the slobbering beast and bend over to eat that strange tasting paella ... Indeed, have you already put away the sword and partaken of that noxious paella that will ensure you spend the rest of your political life having to justify and defend your gullibility? I sincerely hope not and that all is not lost. There ARE indications that this is not all ‘done and dusted’ and there could still yet be time to stop the, righteous, puritanical beast that will destroy your country, your society and your self respect.

Kin-free

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5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brilliant, abolsutely first class.

Send it to one of the Spanish newspapers.

TheBigYin said...

If only I could Anon, Kin-free is a most excellent writer. I my look out a Spanish newspaper and send them a copy.

Jo said...

That was bloody brilliant Kin-free!!

Just wanted you to know that.

Best wishes,
Jo

Anne said...

Excellent blog! I agree with you wholeheartedly (and not only because I smoke...

Let us enjoy our coffee and a smoke in the free fresh air, for goodness sake!

Anonymous said...

I have been to several European Countries since smoking bans came in 2007 and I have to say Spain has the right balance in my opinion.

Bars can choose whether to be smoking or non smoking, as long as they clearly display signage to this effect and then customers can choose where they want to go to.

A relative, who owns a small Bar in an apartment complex in Gran Canaria, Spain asked his customers to vote last summer as to whether he should make it a no smoking bar or not and 97% voted for it to remain a smoking bar.

Democracy and the free market in action.

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