Monday, 16 April 2012


When I heard Andrew Lansley saying he wanted to see the end of cigarettes altogether in the UK,           I had this strange urge to light up and start swearing (which, no doubt, he also wants to ban together with satire – and if you don’t like satire stop reading this now.)

The trend to engineering what we can do and can’t do is misguided. We’ll get fat, smoke, drink too much and die or we’ll just die. But in the end we’ve got to stop banning stuff like advertising, cigarettes and drugs because we (in authority) know better. I keep on saying that the old command and control model is dead. No-one listens. I think we should make not listening illegal.

When smoking was rationalised

We have a bunch of underemployed MPs all looking for good causes to espouse. At least “Ban the Bomb” was a big idea whereas “Ban the Fag” or “Ban the Bevvy” seems a bit pathetic. And “Ban the Belly Laugh” is worse. Check out the response to the current satirical front cover of the Economist in Scotland. Swift would not do well in modern Britain.

The spirit of satire is alive and well

It was after the riots last year that I heard someone on Saturday Live on Radio 4 say he blamed advertising for the riots (ban all advertising) because – and his voice lowered conspiratorially – “we know those advertisers’ little tricks don’t we?” As someone who spent a bit of my career in advertising…er no…what are they? …wish I’d known.

There’s a whole constituency of do-gooders out there determined to ban anything that people like which isn’t wholly good for them. Let’s go for butter and Barbie, let’s go for Nike and nicotine, let’s go for gambling and Glenfiddich.

I could foresee, were I not an incorrigible optimist about the good sense of most people, a world in 2020 where Tom Watson was Prime Minister, where we had no free press, no advertising, no butchers, no pubs, no cigarettes (smoking even in private carries a three year prison term), no brothels, no toy shops, no loud music, no fast cars and no fast food.

Rory Sutherland columnist and ad man told the story of Attaturk who wanted to modernise Turkey by stopping women from wearing the veil. Realising a ban was a bad idea he tried another way. He made it mandatory for prostitutes to wear the veil.

Silk Cut anyone?  Cheers.

 Alcoholic and racist – double top!

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