Thursday 15 May 2014

Politician accidentally tells the truth

I'd like to introduce you to Luke Pollard, the Labour candidate for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport...

"Not a single person on the doorstep has raised the licensing of e-cigarettes with me, what they are talking about is their household bills, whether they can get full time hours from week to week, worries about changes to their local NHS services. No-one is wondering whether e-cigarettes are medicinal."

Well said. How nice to hear some common sense from the Labour party. Nobody wants medicinal regulation for e-cigarettes except for a handful of zealots and the pharmaceutical industry.

Oh, and a whole bunch of Labour politicians, led by Linda McAvan and Glenis Willmott, who poured blood, sweat and tears into getting medical regulation for e-cigarettes at the EU level.

So why is Mr Pollard so keen to scoff at the unofficial policy of his own party? Brave iconoclast? Free spirit? Sadly not. He is merely taking an opportunistic pop at the Tory incumbent, Oliver Colville, who is the target of one of Britain's periodic flower-based storms in a teacup.

A Conservative MP said he was not trying to mislead anyone by not declaring he received Chelsea Flower Show tickets from a tobacco company when submitting questions on e-cigarettes.

Oliver Colvile told the Commons he had previously recorded on the MPs’ register of interests that he was given two tickets to the 2013 event, valued at £1,260, by Japan Tobacco International (JTI).

As scandals go, it's so weak that even the Observer would think twice before putting it on the front page.

There are a couple of problems with it. The first is that Japan Tobacco don't actually make e-cigarettes so there wouldn't be any conflict of interest even if this MP was cheap enough to be bought off with tickets to see some flowers.

The second is that his questions (about advertising to minors and medical regs) were so bland that no one could realistically benefit from them. It is impossible to work out if he is pro, anti or agnostic about e-cigarettes. For all we can tell, he may be stridently opposed to them. Then again, so might JTI, so perhaps he should have declared the interest to be on the safe side. But if so, any MPs that have received hospitality from the pharmaceutical industry should also declare an interest when talking about e-cigarettes.

None of this is of interest to Luke Pollard who was just trying to make a bit of political capital out of some local news coverage. But in doing so, he let slip an important truth about his colleagues' crusade.

1 comment:

Frank J said...

In other words, they don't care about it and we can, happily, pursue further restrictions, eh?

Nice one.