"Snipers could soon snuff out smoking"

Let's put it down to bad timing.

This week's issue of the Luton Herald & Post (published on Thursday) describes in detail how people smoking on the streets of Luton should be shot by a "squad of licensed snipers" to save the Health Service the cost of looking after them in later years.

Oddly enough I can't find the article, by columnist Alan Dee, online (perhaps it's been removed following the news from Norway), but I've seen the digital edition and I thought you might like to read it in full. (I'll post it shortly.)

H/T Sean Spillane


Out of Africa – update

Latest on my son's trip to Malawi:

Week two: all suitcases have finally arrived and the team are reported to be "fit and healthy and just back from the Dwambazi climb".

Dwambazi climb? I really should have paid more attention at that parents' evening back in January.

Update: I am told the group is doing "conservation work". I dare say I'll find out more when they get back.


Review of the week


Notes from the north west

I'm in Manchester today, discussing plans for a new event at the Conservative party conference in October.

The aim, if it comes off, is to create a must-see annual attraction that combines crowd-pleasing entertainment with a serious political message.

It's a difficult trick to pull off but I have an idea that I think could work. Watch this space.

In the meantime I can reveal details of the event we are organising - in association with the Clubs and Institute Union - at the Labour conference in Liverpool in September.

See poster above.


Stony Stratford - spread the word

As others have already reported, Cllr Paul Bartlett has suffered a serious setback in his attempt to ban smoking outdoors.

About My Area has the story here – Stony Stratford Smoking Ban: Town Council Rejects Bartlett's Proposals.

See also: Stony Stratford meeting overwhelmingly rejects Bartlett proposals (Dick Puddlecote).

To date, however, the only mainstream reference I can find to this uplifting news is in today's Daily Telegraph: The tiny town that refused to give in to a fresh-air fascist ('Stony Stratford is a jewel for standing up for the right to smoke outdoors', Bryony Gordon).

This news must be disseminated far and wide otherwise the only 'story' people will remember is Stony Stratford set to ban smoking in all public places (Daily Telegraph, June 29).

That's how bandwagons start.

So spread the word. Write to your MP and to your local newspaper. Tell them what happened in Stony Stratford. (When writing to your MP send him or her copies of relevant reports.)

Shout it from the rooftops and don't let this moment go to waste.

PS. Forest Eireann's John Mallon writes: The message from Stony Stratford. See also: The new religion (Smoking Out The Truth).


Should entire towns ban smoking?

On BBC Radio Derby this morning.

Ten-minute discussion starts around 15 minutes in.


Stony Stratford latest – motion to ban public smoking postponed

STOP PRESS – from the MK News:

The motion to ban smoking in Stony Stratford will not take place at tomorrow's town council meeting (Tuesday) and will now be discussed at the next meeting in September.

As reported in last week's MK News, Councillor Paul Bartlett was planning to postpone his motion as he believes his opponents' arguments are 'flimsy' and they need more time to prepare.

Stony Stratford Town Council has now confirmed the discussion will not take place at tomorrow night's meeting, and has been moved to September 20.


My interpretation of this is that Bartlett's motion was heading for a massive defeat following the hugely successful protest on Saturday, so he has taken his ball home in a fit of pique, no doubt hoping that, come September, his opponents will have lost interest and the fuss and bad publicity he has generated for the town will have died down.

Fat chance, pal.


Out of Africa

My son, 16, is currently on a three-week school trip to Malawi.

The group - 22 children and half a dozen adults - arrived safely last weekend, via Ethiopia. I know this because within 24 hours we received a bush telegraph style message from the parents of another child on the same trip. We then had to phone the parents of the next child on the list and so on to tell them the good news.

The bad news is that the same cannot be said of their luggage. Reports are a bit hazy but seven days later at least 17 suitcases have still to be reunited with their owners. Eleven have been traced to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, and six are unaccounted for.

Apparently, Ethiopian Airlines has decreed that freight is more important than clean underwear for a group of teenagers from Cambridgeshire.

Understandable, perhaps, but I do hope they are reunited with their possessions - including my son's malaria tablets - very soon!