Smoking ban: I'm fed up of right-wing nutjobs declaring war on wars

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The 'war on smoking' and the 'war on motorists' are made up by headline-grabbing nutjob libertarians

It’s getting tiring now. There are wars being declared everywhere - except rather than useful things like a “war on poverty” or something that might actually help people, instead the libertarian nutjob wing of the Tories spend their time declaring wars against wars.

Today, for example, we see the introduction to parliament of the bill that will eventually see smoking outlawed. This is without doubt a good thing. I don’t care if you love smoking, if you think it makes you look cool, or if you consider it one of your favourite hobbies. Smoking is without doubt A Bad Thing. Cancer, emphysema, COPD, bronchitis, heart and circulation problems, unfitness leading to obesity… it causes all of the above. Even if you are healthy and smoke, you would be more so if you didn’t. It's annual cost to the NHS and social care sits at £2.4billion - that's a lot of new hospitals.

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And yet, and yet, predictably we hear that up to 100 Tories are likely to rebel, despite this being one of the few policies introduced by this government that deserves a round of applause. Liz Truss, bolstered by her newfound personal freedom buddies across the pond, is reportedly among the refuseniks; how long before she and her ilk suggest that Brits should be allowed to carry guns if they choose to?

And it’s not just smoking where the libertarians show that they are happy to put the selfish concept of personal freedom over the wider good. If you read the right-wing press, recently you’ll have inevitably come across stories decrying Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, saying that they’ve caused gridlock, delayed buses, and all sorts of woes.

But the government’s own report into the schemes, which came out this week, found that while most people it surveyed admittedly didn’t know much about them, of those who did: “Higher proportions of residents thought LTN schemes have made a positive difference to traffic volumes, traffic noise, air quality, the choice of transport modes and the safety of walking and cycling, than thought they have made a negative difference.”

So people who live in areas blighted by high levels of traffic are actually grateful when action is taken to make their roads less polluted and less dangerous. Who would have thought?

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And again, sticking with motoring, here’s a Daily Telegraph columnist complaining this week about the “prevailing anti-car culture”, which she is defying as she refuses “to relinquish [her] liberty”. Stirring words, but what happened to her? She got caught speeding and is cross that some drivers get fined for not obeying yellow box markings on roads - markings which are there to keep traffic flowing for everyone. She sees this as impinging on her car, her “totem of… independence” - I see it as her being annoyed that she can’t do what she wants, when she wants and hang the consequences for the rest of us.

And now, also we’ve got people trying to Michael Gove’s efforts to give many people a more stable housing future, by abolishing no-fault evictions, turned into a “war on landlords”, again by the Telegraph. It’s tiring.

Perhaps it’s a clever trick to engender more affection for the government, by promoting the bats*** opposition wing to create an aura of comparative sanity (not one that will wash for anyone watching the ongoing Rwanda debacle, or indeed much else in Parliament).But what it does do is remind us all that the libertarian wing of the Tories may be obsessed by personal choice, but will do their damnedest to promote this even if it makes everyone else inconvenienced or worse off. And that’s not what I want from a government.

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