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Stephen Williams, friend or foe?

Between now and the General Election on May 7 I'm going to highlight my top 40 'target seats', those where the candidate standing for re-election has consistently supported anti-tobacco policies, and those where a leading candidate is a consistent opponent of excessive lifestyle regulations and policies that infantilise us all. With a few exceptions, I'm focussing on marginal or semi-marginal seats.

#4 - Bristol West
Former chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health (run by ASH), Lib Dem candidate Stephen Williams is one of Britain's most committed anti-smoking politicians. On a personal level I quite like him. Against that he's a strong advocate of plain packaging and helped launch the Plain Packs Protect campaign in 2012. In 2013 his enthusiastic support for smoking bans and other tobacco control policies was recognised by the World Health Organisation which presented him with a special award, at which point he declared he'd like to be public health minister! Stranger things have happened.

2010 majority: 11,366 (20.5%)
Estimated number of smokers in Bristol West: 16,500*
Closest opponent: Labour
Friend or foe: Foe
Target rating: Not impregnable but should hold on

*Based on 20% of the registered electorate in 2010

Note: marginal seats have been defined as those with majorities of 10% or less that require a swing of 5% for the incumbent party to lose.

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Reader Comments (5)

He's a smokerphobic thug. I could like him about as much as I'd like a homophobic or xenophobic thug.

Bigotry is bigotry and there should be no place for bigots in a fair and free society.

Friday, April 17, 2015 at 13:52 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Pat, as of today I am formally banning the use of the word "thug" on this blog in relation to anti-smoking campaigners, unless they have been convicted of violent assault! To the best of my knowledge Stephen Williams hasn't nor is he likely to be!!

Friday, April 17, 2015 at 14:09 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

Your blog Simon so fair enough. However, I stand by the description because I feel strong language is needed to make them think about the end result and the effect they're having on people who do indeed feel bullied by thugs. (Last time I'll use it here)

Being nice about it hasn't helped to change anything. Bullied people become bullies. That's always been the way so some of us are indeed as we have been made moulded by the likes of Williams' campaigns.

Personally, I'll take no prisoners. After all, strong language has been used against us up to this point, even paid for with public money, and there hasn't been any complaints on that score.

Friday, April 17, 2015 at 16:29 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

You're an excellent writer, Pat, and many years ago you wrote one of the best articles I have ever read on the subject of smoking (by a smoker). You came across as angry and hurt but very articulate and, most of all, genuine and honest. At no point did you resort to name-calling, insults or abuse and it was all the more powerful for that.

Personally I think excessively strong language diminishes our argument. It also plays to a very limited audience because I can't think of a single newspaper or magazine that would publish such language (in this or many other contexts). As a journalist you of all people should know that!!

Friday, April 17, 2015 at 17:30 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

Foe. The Lib Dem's popularity in this part of the world has plummeted. So Mr Williams could be one of the ousted Lid Dem Mp's, I'd be very suprised if he held his seat.

Thursday, April 23, 2015 at 0:29 | Unregistered CommenterGary Rogers

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