There’s encouraging news from the USA that the recession is leading individual states to defer plans for smoking bans or even in some cases to reverse them. This underlines the point that such measures should never be regarded as inevitable or irreversible, and if opposed vigorously and tenaciously enough can be defeated. Sometimes if proposals can be put off for long enough they tend to disappear off the official radar as attention is turned to other things.
Now this blog is certainly not a cheerleader for any particular political party and I am under no illusions that a change of government would lead to a dramatic reversal of the illiberal tendencies of the past twelve years. However, the Conservatives have at least said they will review the policy and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that some concessions may be made, so it is crucial to keep the issue in the public eye and never to accept the ban as a fait accompli. It could even be that in future Labour realises that its joyless, ban-everything policies have led to a serious loss of working-class votes, as a number of its back-benchers have pointed out.
Hopefully when drinks industry representatives meet Alastair Darling they will make the point strongly that the smoking ban is a major factor behind the current difficulties being faced by the pub trade. Whether they will get a sympathetic reception on this or any other issue is of course extremely doubtful, given that New Labour just does not seem to “get” pubs at all.