Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Dr John Reid's Underpants Are In A Fankle If He Thinks Socialism Is About Allowing The Poor To Smoke Themselves To A Happy Death

It is not, I confess, an edifying image, but Dr John Reid, the Minister for Bluster and Loudly-Stated Obfuscation, has got his fraying underpants in a twist over the proposed ban on smoking in England. The working classes, whose misfortune it is to be patronised by Dr Reid, should - he says - be allowed to keep puffing, because, often, smoking is their only pleasure.
Is that not a peculiar thing for a Labour politician to say? It wasn't so very long ago - when Labour still counted a few of the Socialist brethren amongst its senior ranks - that the politicians of the People's Party would argue for egalitarian ideals. True, progress towards these aims was rarely substantial, but there existed a clear and admirable strand of leftist thinking which aimed towards the elevation of the working class, in both economic and spiritual terms. Being poor was to be no barrier to becoming cultured and intellectually-fulfilled. The masses would have libraries, and Socialist Sunday Schools. Their whippets could aspire to cashmere coats.
That, at any rate, was the ideal.
Of course, my own views on the smoking ban are complicated. As a two pipes a day man, I am reluctant to condemn tobacco, though I do think there is a qualitative difference between the sweet perfume of Walnut Plug and the industrial smog produced by a room full of cigarette-smokers. As it happens, I tend to indulge my pipe habit at home, while struggling with my photocopy of the Scotsman crossword. On the whole, I think a restriction on smoking in public places will be beneficial, and I will happily support the ban in Scotland if it is followed by a ban on the chewing of gum in public.
Still, there is something deeply comic about the suggestion that certain English clubs may be allowed to maintain smoking rooms. I foresee chaos at the Border, as wheezing men rush South to indulge in the freedom to breathe polluted air.

1 comment:

Learson said...

I would have thought that the Left's faux-concern for the lower-income groups in Britain is now widely recognized as tired old political camouflage which barely conceals a morbid lust for power.