Watching the Lords debate Brexit was like intruding on private grief

Watching and listening to the second reading debate of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill in the House of Lords over the past couple of days was like intruding on private grief. For the most part, their Lordships were engaged a in wake, and those of us who campaigned for Leave in the referendum last year were not welcome. Continue reading

The Australian Taxpayers' Alliance blasts decision to maintain ban on e-cigarettes

Aussies are renowned for plain speaking, and you have to hand it to the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance - if plain speaking were an Olympic sport, they would be gold medallists. Here is a flavour of their response to the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration's (TGA) decision to maintain the ban on e-cigarettes. It make my response look very tame!  This pro-cancer decision by the TGA has demonstrated - without question - that the TGA has no interest in evidence, or in fulfilling its statutory obligations. It is - to put it frankly - an absolute disgrace. Continue reading

More misery for Southern commuters. When will Grayling act?

It feels like Groundhog Day. Each night commuters who have the misfortune to rely on Southern rail to get them to work, fall asleep hoping tomorrow will be different. Perhaps the unions will end the industrial action that has been going on for longer than anyone can remember? Then they wake up the next morning and realise that nothing has changed. Continue reading

Brexit does not mean we will stop cooperating on security, no matter what the Liberal Democrats say

As I was just about to put pen to paper, I received a news alert that at least 48 people have been murdered in a car bomb attack in Baghdad. Another reminder, as if we needed one, that the world is a very unstable and volatile place. The world looks very peaceful as I look out of my office window at home. The bare trees, still showing no sign of an early spring, move from side to side very gently. The odd car moves past my house. Other than being quite literally in the middle of nowhere, you would struggle to find a more peaceful spot than where I am at the moment. The people of Baghdad would love to have that same peace this afternoon. Continue reading

Will the vaping scare stories stop?

After all the scare stories in the media, finally we have a retraction and apology courtesy of the Daily Mail:  "A Health article on January 27 said some experts believe electronic cigarettes can be more harmful than real ones. In fact we are not aware of any experts who hold this view compared to the risks of cancer, heart disease and lung damage from real cigarettes. We apologise for any contrary suggestion." So where did the quote come from? I'll leave that question hanging in the air, as only the Daily Mail can answer it, but it opens up a whole new debate on the veracity of media stories surrounding e-cigarettes. Bad news sells newspapers, or more accurately these days, gets clicks on newspaper websites. A headline of "E-cigarettes are wonderful. Every smoker should try them" is hardly going to generate much interest. A scare story about health risks (ignoring the obvious health risks surrounding smoking) are sexier, especially ones about exploding batteries with photographs of people looking like death in a hospital bed with burns around their face and hands.  Continue reading