Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Monday, 1 March 2010

Nick Hogan

Travel via Dick Puddlecote to Old Holborn, where you will find a button to donate a penny or two to Nick Hogan who has been sent to gaol for "non payment of a fine" , having been fined a total of £11,000 for, allegedly, allowing people to smoke in his pub.

To quote from OH
Nick was actually jailed for non-payment of the fine originally imposed for a 'mass smoke-in' on the day the ban came into force in 2007 in his pub, the 'Swan and Barristers' in Bolton. He no longer has that pub. He was fined again when council inspectors walked into his present pub and discovered a group of customers smoking - Nick wasn't even on the premises.

Nick is bankrupt, and had gone to court intending to argue that he could not afford the £500 a month payments demanded by the council towards their £11,600 bill for prosecuting him. He has already paid off £1,600. The court gave him a six month sentence instead, and he is currently in Forest Bank prison in Pendlebury, unable to help to earn the money which would ensure his release.
Please take a few moments to read both Dick Puddlecote's and OH's blogs.

When you have done that think for a moment, especially if you're one of those people who enjoys a well-regulated life.

Try to forget, for a moment, whether you are a smoker or not, forget any preconceived prejudices you may have about smoking and the associated health risks. Think instead, for a moment, about how you may have been persuaded encouraged told it's just fine to single out one section of the population and make laws to isolate them, to make them stand apart from the rest, and make them the subject of public derision. Think how this sector of the population has, almost without exception, meekly obeyed these new laws.

Think about how it's fine to create draconian laws to punish these people. Think about how it's fine for you to tell these people they are filthy, how it's fine for you to order them about, how it's fine for you to call them murderers, and how it's fine for you to telephone the police and get them arrested for breaking a law that would not otherwise invoke a criminal penalty.

Then look around you, and consider other sectors of the population whose lifestyles differ from yours, and how they might do things that irritate or annoy you, things that are currently 100% legal, permitted, within the law.

Would you like all these people to stop making your life a misery?

Of course you would, it'd make your life easier. You would be free to go wherever you want without the irritation of interacting with people who are 'different', no door would be closed for you, everywhere will be safe - for you.

There will be no risk of visiting that house where there's so much air freshener it makes you cough, no risk of visiting the lady who wears so much perfume that the smell lingers on your clothes and gives your child an asthma attack.

That woman with six cats would be banned, they dig up your carrots, and their fur makes you sneeze.

The chav with the big dog would be next, it looks fierce, and sometimes barks.

That labourer across the road whose old diesel car rattles when he starts it every morning, and which leaves behind a trail of carcinogenic exhaust, would have to stop.

Those new folk would have to change their menu because you don't like the smell, and as for the barbecue-every-evening-in-the-summer family - they're done for because they're going to make the planet burn up.

Think about all the new laws that could, if you wanted them, make your life so much easier.

And, of course, you would never do anything that could annoy others, not ever, not in a million years ......

Or would you?

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