Tuesday 3 April 2007

Smoke screen

I never was a fan of age restrictions, and am no supporter of the proposal to raise the age for buying tobacco to 18. Not that I like young people smoking, I just think that age restrictions - as well as being discriminatory and unfair - are likely to be counter-productive, and give an undeserved "cool" image to the age-restricted product among those under the legal age.

I'm not surprised at all that New Labore (typo) want the legal age for buying tobacco raised. This is, after all, the same government that has brought in curfews and dispersal orders for teenagers, and seems hell bent on demonising young people. Indeed, since before New Labour came into power in 1997, their trajectory to the right has been so great that they long ago left the orbit of the left (and are now on a collision course with The Sun level politics).

What is rather more surprising, disturbing even, is that the Green Party in Scotland also seem to be backing such a flawed proposal (Scots Green Manifesto on BBC website). It's a shame, as 95% of what the Greens stand for I agree with - especially on nuclear disarmament, pulling out of Iraq, protecting civil liberties, protecting the environment (obviously!). I'd still much rather vote for the Green Party than the Labour Party. (Admittedly, right now I'd rather vote for the Monster Raving Loony Party than the Labour Party, but that's another story!)

In fact, the same Scottish Green Party manifesto opposes the demonisation of young people. So it's quite possible that their policy on the smoking age limit is a "glitch". I hope so, I dearly hope it's not the start of the rightward drift that has afflicted the Labour Party and is starting to afflict the Liberal Democrats. Under the name of "modernisation". Call me a Luddite if you like, but I hate Modernisers!

On the positive side, Scotland does have a new left party which is standing for the first time in this year's elections. Solidarity, a left-wing breakaway party from the SSP with Tommy Sheridan at its helm, has a radical socialist platform. The main points of their manifesto can be found here.

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