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Friday
Apr282017

Patrician Hewitt revisits the smoking ban

I recorded an interview yesterday for You and Yours, the Radio 4 consumer programme.

They wanted me to go head-to-head with Patricia Hewitt, the former Secretary of State for Health who introduced the smoking ban in England, to discuss both the run up to the ban and the impact it's had.

I was in a small studio in London - on my own - talking to Hewitt and presenter Peter White down the line.

The item, recorded 'as live', began with a clip featuring comments from smokers at a pub in Liverpool.

The first declared that the smoking ban was the "best thing this country ever did". (Better than abolishing slavery or fighting the Nazis?!)

The others weren't quite so adamant but there was a general consensus that the ban was 'a good thing'.

Our segment began like an episode of The Reunion, the Radio 4 series that reunites a group of people 'intimately involved in a moment of modern history'.

Hewitt explained her role and why a comprehensive ban was introduced when her predecessor John Reid had proposed exemptions for pubs that didn't serve food and private members' clubs.

She admitted a blanket ban wasn't in the 2005 Labour Party manifesto but said the government was under enormous pressure from the BMA and the rest of the medical profession to introduce the policy.

We traded various points until I grew a little tired of Hewitt's relentlessly patrician tone. (I can think of only one other politician whose voice grates so much and that's Diane Abbott.)

She was also talking at quite some length so I began to interrupt and argue. It got a bit heated (on my side), quite unlike a normal episode of You and Yours, so it will be interesting to hear how it comes across.

The funny thing is, as I left the building who should I bump into but ... Patricia Hewitt! (Unknown to me she was in an adjacent studio.)

The first thing that struck me was how small she is - she's no taller than my mother and similarly petite - which is not how I have always imagined her.

I apologised for being a little "aggressive" and we had a perfectly friendly five-minute chat, although it was clear we were never going to agree on much. We parted however on good terms. (Am I allowed to say that?)

The producer later emailed me to say "Lively stuff!" I'm told it will be broadcast around 12.30pm today. Tune in!

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Reader Comments (2)

A vile woman who was not fit to be in govt especially as she betrayed the people who voted Labour in favour of a handful of doctors. And if the smoking ban was so great how come Labour has never won an election since.

Friday, April 28, 2017 at 12:15 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

What Blair's ministers did next
2008

"Patricia Hewitt, who used to be the health secretary, has got herself a job at Boots the Chemist.
Not behind the counter of course, she will be an adviser to one of the biggest pharmacy led groups in the world, for about three weeks of the year.
It is easy to see why Boots would want advice from a politician who a spent a couple of years making decisions about the country's healthcare."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7196420.stm


Ex-ministers in 'cash for influence' row under fire
2010

"Mrs Hewitt, who is also standing down as an MP, said she "completely rejected" the suggestion she helped obtain a key seat on a government advisory group for a client paying her £3,000 a day.
The former health secretary said the role she had been discussing would only have been taken up after she stepped down as an MP at the next election.
There was "nothing unusual or improper in the business appointments that I have taken up since leaving government", she added"
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8578597.stm

Draw your own conclusions.

Friday, April 28, 2017 at 14:50 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

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