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Pot kettle black - Lib Dem MP calls Forest a "fairly unsavoury organisation"!

H/T Tobacco Tacticss.

I was unaware of this until yesterday so full marks to that inveterate tweeter @TobaccoTacticss for posting this speech by Lib Dem MP Paul Burstow.

For those who don't know, Burstow replaced fellow Lib Dem Paul Williams as chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health (run by ASH) when Williams became a junior minister last year.

Burstow was a minister himself – at the Department of Health – but was sacked in 2012 after reportedly falling out with Nick Clegg over health reforms.

Addressing a Department of Health and World Health Organisation meeting on Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in December, Burstow was in full shit-stirring mode, attacking Lynton Crosby, the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Adam Smith Institute and Forest, as well as muddying the waters about the exact nature of Article 5.3.

The bit that tickled me most, of course, was his declaration about Forest. According to Burstow:

The activities of the self-styled "smokers' rights" group Forest are well known. [Why thank you!] If asked directly in a media interview spokespeople for Forest do not deny that it gets most of its money from the tobacco industry.

Perhaps less well known is the secondary campaign group Hands Off Our Packs, set up through Forest and again of course funded through the industry.

Forest is in my view a fairly unsavoury organisation, but its purpose and activities are widely understood. [I'll take that as a compliment.]

I'm not a great fisker of articles (largely because I can't be bothered) but let's address the implication that only if "asked directly" will Forest confess to receiving money from tobacco companies.

Visit the Forest website and on the home page you'll find this statement:

Forest is supported by British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco Limited and Gallaher Limited (a member of the Japan Tobacco Group of Companies). The views expressed on this or any other Forest-affiliated website are those of Forest alone.

Visit the Forest Eireann website and on the home page it reads:

Forest Éireann is funded by Forest UK which receives donations from tobacco companies in Britain and Ireland. We do NOT represent the tobacco industry. We have a completely independent set of goals that are centred around the right to smoke a legal product without undue harrassment or discrimination.

Visit the Hands Off Our Packs website and you'll find this disclaimer:

This website is owned and managed by Forest (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco). Forest is supported by British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco Limited and Gallaher Limited (a member of the Japan Tobacco Group of Companies). The tobacco companies are proud to support this campaign. However the views expressed on this or any other Forest-affiliated website are those of Forest alone.

You'll find similar statements on all Forest websites. I can't think of any lobby group that is more transparent than we are. Perhaps it's our honesty that makes us "unsavoury".

Actually, I'd like to explore that "unsavoury" comment a little further. Coming from a politician, and a Lib Dem politician in particular, it's a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Google 'LibDems' and 'dirty tricks' and you'll see what I mean. Here's an example:

Prior to the 2010 General Election political commentator Peter Oborne wrote:

At the core of Nick Clegg’s message is the very powerful claim that his Liberal Democrats represent a new honesty and decency – in stark contrast to the corruption of the two main political parties.

Yet this claim is cynical. The truth is that Clegg is the leader of a profoundly dishonest party that is prepared to lie, cheat and on occasion issue outrageous smears on its opponents in order to win power.

See: Dirty tricks of the REAL nasty party (Daily Mail)

And another:

A senior Liberal Democrat campaigner has been arrested by police for allegedly trying to sabotage the Conservatives’ campaign in a key marginal.

See: Lib Dem arrested in dirty tricks inquiry (Daily Telegraph)

In 2005 Dr Julian Lewis, Conservative MP for New Forest East and a man I once worked for (see how transparent I am!) wrote:

In the dead of night, a very large quantity of Liberal Democrat posters – many of them embellished with tactical voting stickers urging Labour supporters to vote Liberal – were illegally erected on telegraph poles and along public highway verges, in order to influence people going to vote on their way to work on polling day.

This disgraceful behaviour should finally disprove the myth that the Liberal Democrats are the Holier-than-Thou party where election tactics are concerned.

See: Liberal Democrat dirty tricks (

I could go on and on but you get the picture. All political parties have their cranks and nut jobs but the Lib Dems are notorious for their "dirty tricks". Not for nothing was this website,, created.

And Paul Burstow has the cheek to call Forest a "fairly unsavoury organisation"!

Click here to read his speech but note that it's an edited version.

I'd love to know what he said in the unedited version! We'll try and get a copy, via Freedom of Information if necessary.

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Reader Comments (2)

Rest easy Forest and similar campaigns, to be attacked by a Liberal "Democrat" is an honour. As any honest decent citizen knows who does not dwell in some fringe backward orchard, the LIB DEMS are little more than Chameleons with more views than The Eiffel Tower.

They swim in any sewer which has the stench of influence within the corridors of power. The fact they still have MPs is a stain on the integrity of the British electorate.

Anyway in a Free Society whats wrong with any campaign getting support from wherever it can, if anyone objects to this let them try Pyongyang and liberate us from their constang whinging.

Sunday, March 23, 2014 at 18:59 | Unregistered CommenterFree Radical

"fairly unsavory party". A party who is on the verge of being wiped out, Who are in my eyes are not Liberal nor democratic.

Monday, March 24, 2014 at 2:07 | Unregistered CommenterGary Rogers

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