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« More spin and bluster from ASH | Main | Stick an exhaust pipe in your car, says doctor – it's safer than smoking »

David Hockney lights up the House of Commons

Where to begin?

Yesterday's reception for the Save Our Pubs & Clubs campaign at the House of Commons went as well as we could have hoped. Better, actually.

It wasn't perfect. Thirty-five parliamentarians registered to attend but I'm not sure how many turned up. There was a debate in the chamber that kept several MPs away (including my own who nevertheless sent a member of staff to say hello). In addition we were competing with a garden party at Buckingham Palace and some of our guests were double-booked. (Guess which event they chose to attend?!) In several instances they did however send a researcher to represent them.

Of the 300 people who pre-registered at least 200 – possibly more – joined us in the Terrace Pavilion. (If you're wondering what happened to the rest, this is quite normal for a 'freebie' event. Experience has taught me that around two-thirds of people who register will turn up on the day. The capacity of the Pavilion is 200 standing so the numbers were just right.)

At one point, looking at the queue at the Cromwell Green entrance and knowing how long it can take to get through security, I was concerned that some people might not make it in time. I needn't have worried. A trickle of guests became a flood and soon the Terrace, in particular, was full of people talking, drinking and (what else?) smoking.

Lots of familiar faces – Paul Staines (Guido Fawkes), Eamonn Butler (Adam Smith Institute), Dan Hamilton (Big Brother Watch), Alex Deane (formerly Big Brother Watch), Mark Littlewood (Institute of Economic Affairs), Angela Harbutt (Liberal Vision), Nick Hogan, Lembit Opik – and some less familiar ones including publicans and members of the Working Men's Club and Institute Union. (The arrival on College Green of the CIU's National Executive Committee reminded me of a scene from The Godfather.)

The big news is that David Hockney turned up. We sent him an invitation a couple of weeks ago but we only got a call yesterday morning to say that he was coming. At 4.40 we were told he was "in the building" and at 4.50 there he was, as large as life, standing next to me as our hosts – Greg Knight, Roger Godsiff and John Hemming – launched into their speeches.

Mick McGlasham, general secretary of the CIU, also spoke but it was David who got the largest cheer and, as ever, he didn't disappoint. In a short but humorous speech he spoke of being "angry" and attacked the politicians who are turning Britain into a "mean-spirited" country. He had come, he said, because he "wanted to do his bit".

The BBC conducted interviews on the Terrace and we also had two camera crews of our own. (We've commissioned two videos of the event which should be ready next week.) Fingers crossed, there should also be a feature in the Independent to coincide with the anniversary of the smoking ban.

Finally, I was so busy I didn't speak to that many people so apologies if you were there and I didn't say hello. If you came, many thanks for making the effort. It was very much appreciated. Online activism is all well and good but the biggest statements are made in person.

See: Labour's ban comes home to roost (Guido Fawkes)
Pub smoking ban needs review says MP (The Daily Politics, BBC1)
MPs call for smokers to be allowed back into pubs (Birmingham Mail)
Campaign fighting for rethink over smoking ban (Bristol Evening Post)

Above: David Hockney (right) with The Rt Hon Greg Knight MP

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Reader Comments (23)

O/T On today's ASH news, ASH UK claims that Save our Pubs is "a tobacco industry funded front group." It says that Forest is a supporter, but have you given them money? If not, you and the Save our Pubs Campaign should demand that ASH UK places a retraction on its front page.
Also, in ASH news, there is an article about a new opinion poll on the smoking ban. Interestingly, after refusing to publish the questions posed in four previous similar polls and their not being placed in the YouGov archives, some detaiils are given. For example, less than 50% of those questioned agree with the smoke free law. I haven't looked through the YouGov archives to see whether full details are available, but, if not, YouGov is in contravention of its agreement with the British Polling Council, of which it is a member. The company representative on the BPC is listed as Kellner - also a trustee of ASH UK.

Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 12:51 | Unregistered CommenterJon

Clarification: Save our Pubs states that Forest is a supporter.

Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 12:52 | Unregistered CommenterJon

"For example, less than 50% of those questioned agree with the smoke free law"

Bloody Hell! Are you sure ASH allowed this out?. I'm staggered.

Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 16:01 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Sorry, I've got this wrong. The information giiven is only for smokers. 47% of smokers agree and 38% disagree. Presumably the remainder weren't bothered either way. The breakdown for smoekers+non smokers is not given.

Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 16:37 | Unregistered CommenterJon

Well done Simon, very well organnized, fortunately the weather was very good although the clouds started to appear about 3pm. However big thank you and from David Morgan who's the licencee of the Great Harry Pub in Belverder in Kent.

Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 18:05 | Unregistered CommenterGary Rogers

Congratulations and a job well done:-)

Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 23:02 | Unregistered Commenterjredheadgirl

'Speaking at the event Roger Godsiff, Labour member for Birmingham Hall Green said: “The reason I am more than happy to support this campaign is because I believe that the British tradition of pubs, working men’s clubs and other places where people can meet is a very important tradition that I would like to keep going'

I'm afraid that this is the point of the smoking ban. it was the same in Germany in 1933 when Hitler introduced it there. To continue their artificial endless war on terror, they need to keep people separated and scared.

It does not serve their purpose to have communities meeting and discussing these things. Keep them at home, in front of the TV spewing out war and fear. Nice cup of George Orwell anyone?

Let's face it, if they were really concerned about people's health, they would not be spending billions on illegal wars of conquest disguised as anti terrorist operations, and at the same time, allowing the NHS to degenerate as it so obviously is.

Welcome to the Fourth Reich!

Friday, July 1, 2011 at 19:31 | Unregistered CommenterMark

I am not going to beat about the bush, this was a non-event, pandering to the establishment. I do not agree with the objectives as set out by the CIU with regard to seperate, sealed rooms where no employee will enter ... hard on smoking employees one would think.

This solution only panders to the politicians and the health activists and signals a public admission that SHS is a health risk.

I was also disappointed that there was not a call to rally support from Pubs, Clubs, Bingo, Snooker Clubs and ordinary High Street Cafes.

By the time the next Aniversary arrives, I doubt if there will be much left of our hospitality sector, so I will not diary a future event.

Ventilation, Air Filtration linked to the existing EU Indoor Air Quality Standard thus allowing smoking throughout or the choice of smoking and non-smoking venues by the business owners is the only solution to regain freedom of choice and at the same time allowing venues to gradually return to profitability.

Friday, July 1, 2011 at 21:16 | Unregistered CommenterBill Gibson

EN 13779 explained

Friday, July 1, 2011 at 21:41 | Unregistered CommenterBill Gibson

"Ventilation, Air Filtration linked to the existing EU Indoor Air Quality Standard thus allowing smoking throughout or the choice of smoking and non-smoking venues by the business owners is the only solution to regain freedom of choice and at the same time allowing venues to gradually return to profitability."

Actually, you are quite right Bill. Still though, we have to start somewhere, but I agree wholeheartedly with your take on this issue. Well said. I am sure that you are not the only one who feels this way.

Friday, July 1, 2011 at 21:44 | Unregistered Commenterjredheadgirl

The proposal as is will fail, simply because there is no strength to the argument. By presenting the definative EU Standard that provides for clean, healthy air for all, this prevents the politicians from having an exit stratagy of dismissing the case for Modern Air Management

The World Health Organisation has recently stated that scientific evidence must be reviewed, as such Close Coupled Field Technology (CCFT) has been approved in the UK since 2005 by a UK Government Agency and removes 99.999% of Airborne Particulate and is now being fitted into commercial aircraft by BAE Systems worldwide.


Friday, July 1, 2011 at 23:05 | Unregistered CommenterBill Gibson

In addition, many inner city venues who have a high proportion of smoking customers cannot offer the facility of a seperate "sealed" room and as a result we would see further division within the industry.

Saturday, July 2, 2011 at 8:45 | Unregistered CommenterBill Gibson

I was very delighted to hear of this development and that three MPs have stood up and asked for an amendment to the smoking torture ban.
However, if the ASH nazis and their backers should prevail in shouting it down with their vast treasure chests at their disposal, as they do, pub Landlords and campaigners should demand that pub owners be allowed to put signs in the smoking areas stating THIS AREA IS FOR SMOKERS and they should also campaign hard for a ROOF and FOUR walls added to the cow sheds they call smoking areas and with smaller openings centrally heated and extended from indoors.
And the law should be changed to allow pubs apply for a COMMUNITY EXTENSION FOR MINORITIES, or some such wording, regardless of size or street space and if this is not available they should be allowed to convert an inside room for this purpose.
These No Smoking Signs are too one-sided by far.
Its time we had a fair shake.
Its all too one-sided by far in the Antis favour.

Saturday, July 2, 2011 at 10:47 | Unregistered Commenterann

No surrendering of an individuals rights please ...

The United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights 1948

Article 1.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Saturday, July 2, 2011 at 11:45 | Unregistered CommenterBill Gibson

Virtually 3 days on from the event and this appears to be the quietest thread on the Taking Liberties site, so ... .

Unless there is a dramatic swing in mindset by the politicians, it is clear that a political solution is not on the cards as they have been brainwashed beyond belief. Unlike the Dutch politicians, we have allowed ours to become spellbound by the gospel according to Big Pharma whether it be tobacco, alcohol or food..

I believe that the answer lies in Legal Challenges to flush out the truth in a Court of Law. We have a current High Court action in the U.K. that is now reaching its fourth aniversary since it began and has the strong possibility of success even if it needs to go all the way to Europe.

I am a lifelong non-smoker like the politicians who spoke on Wednesday, but I am also a realist when I see at first habd the apathy within Westminster and Holyrood when it comes to listening to the average person on the street.

Saturday, July 2, 2011 at 12:58 | Unregistered CommenterBill Gibson

Bill Gibson: What's the current High Court Action you mention?

Saturday, July 2, 2011 at 17:06 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Great artist! I love his art.

Saturday, July 2, 2011 at 19:35 | Unregistered CommenterAna

Going out for a drink with my severely disabled husband was always difficult, finding a pub with no steps and room to manoeuvre a wheelchair between tables, now it is impossible, because horrors upon horrors a disabled person who actual smokes. personally I think the smoking ban discrimminates against people who cannot "nip" outside for a cigarette.

Sunday, July 3, 2011 at 13:16 | Unregistered CommenterPauline

Frank - I've asked Bill about this on the No smoking, please, we're British post, but have had no reply.

Sunday, July 3, 2011 at 20:43 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

Rather funny really, that some many in the intelligentsia decry smoking but support the legalisation of drugs.
Surely if we are to take steps that deprive smokers of their rights we should put that to a country wide vote rather than allow a small coterie fascists/didacticts decide, offfering the excuse that it is for the good of the people. Which as we know is either a firghtening nannyish attitude or more likely their Stalinlite attitudes coming to the fore.

Monday, July 4, 2011 at 10:59 | Unregistered CommenterPenfold

"Surely if we are to take steps that deprive smokers of their rights we should put that to a country wide vote ...."


I have to respectfully disagree with this statement. Direct (or pure) Democracy is and can be a very dangerous proposition as it allows 51% of the population to vote away the rights of the other 49%. Certain rights are inalienable, like the right to assemble, for example; therefore, these most basic rights can never be voted away by the "popular" whims of current social relativism in any society that truly deems itself to be free.


Monday, July 4, 2011 at 21:38 | Unregistered Commenterjredheadgirl

Perhaps contact these people regarding the legality of the ban in 'Common Law' as opposed to 'Admirilty law?'

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 2:06 | Unregistered CommenterMark

I am a member of a Private members club - The Caledonian club 9, Halkin Street, London SW1X 7DR. THE SMOKING BAN IMPOSED THE RULE WHICH PREVENTED US FROM HAVING A CIGAR AFTER DINNER AND SPEECHES!. The club has a room clearly marked "Soking Room" no lomger applicable. The Club has a terrace where smoking is permitted. The smoking ban has deprived those smokers of Cigars the pleasure of lighting up after dinner.
With a room clearly marked smokers, and the lifting of ban to smoke after dinner would have a more relaxed feeling for members.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 17:16 | Unregistered CommenterRonald I Shaw

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