Donald Macintyre's Sketch: And now a word from our sponsors – spin included
Donald Macintyre writes political sketches for The Independent, having been Jerusalem correspondent since 2004, covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, as well as travelling for the paper to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Egypt. As Political Editor and then Chief Political Commentator, he previously covered the John Major and early Tony Blair era. He has written for the Daily Express, Sunday Times, Times and Sunday Telegraph, and Sunday Correspondent. He is the author of Mandelson and the Making of New Labour (2000).
Thursday 28 November 2013
Since the advertising ban, the tobacco industry has had to rely on product placement in unexpected contexts, like the House of Commons. “I confess that I enjoyed a Henri Wintermans Café Crème after breakfast this morning on the way to work,” Tory MP Robert Halfon announced, arguing that plain packaging might make it “easier to smuggle counterfeit cigarettes”.
This approach has possibilities. To save taxpayers’ money, parliamentary proceedings could actually be sponsored, like the old US radio shows lovingly parodied in Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. “Every little helps,” the minister would announce during a speech on, say, the horsemeat scandal. “This debate is brought to you by the country’s leading supermarket chain. If you can’t find it at Tesco, you can probably get along without it.”
On Thursday, public health minister Jane Ellison had a less than easy ride announcing what the polls suggest will be a popular government change of heart: reviving the prospect of mandatory plain packaging for cigarettes before the next general election. She should “stand up to the health zealots and nanny state brigade who, if they could, would ban everything and have everything in plain packaging”, said ultra-free marketeer Philip Davies.
True to his bovver boy image, Davies thought this was such a good point it was worth making at least twice. When Lib Dem John Pugh asked: “What exactly is the downside of plain packaging, apart from fewer fags being sold?” he growled: “A left-wing, nanny state wallah like you would not understand.”
Davies’ fellow libertarian David Nuttall feared the Government would similarly decide that “selling children sweets in brightly coloured packets contributes to childhood obesity”, as if this were such a depraved idea that no one could possibly agree with it. But John Baron, who chairs an all-party group on cancer, declared: “The Government have listened and responded … a sign of strength, not weakness.”
Labour’s public health spokeswoman Luciana Berger accused David Cameron of listening more to his election guru Lynton Crosby and “the vested interests of big tobacco than cancer charities and health experts”. This last point seemed a bit perverse when ministers appear to have forsaken Crosby’s advice. Labour outrage might also have reflected the realisation that an electoral fox was being ruthlessly shot.
- 1 This restaurant has misunderstood the concept of 'cheese and biscuits'
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 3 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 4 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
Spiritual leader allegedly manipulated 400 men into removing testicles to be 'closer to God'
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Client Services Executive - Enfield, North London ...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...