Saturday, July 7, 2007

"CIG DEM" Front page Sun splash as Charlies defies smoking ban

There is heavy newspaper coverage this morning for a story first flagged up by the BBC, Liberal Polemic the Norfolk Blogger yesterday. The coverage is as heavy as you can get really - you don't more high profile than the front page of the Sun - main story - with a three inch high headline in big bold capitals saying "CIG DEM".

"Cops swoop as Charles puffs at fags on train".."MP FLOUTS SMOKING BAN" and a photo of a young Charles smoking feature in the Sun front page splash story this morning, which says:

FORMER Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy was yesterday caught puffing away on a train - just days after Britain's smoking ban came into force. Cops ticked off the MP for lighting up on a trip from London to Plymouth, Devon.

Mr Kennedy, who has battled a drink problem, had several ciggies and refused several requests from a guard to stop, source claimed. Instead he leaned from a window to blow smoke outside. Two British Transport officers were waiting when the 11.05 train pulled into Plymouth shortly after 2pm. They gave the 47 year-old a stern lecture - but he escaped a £200 fine for smoking in an enclosed space.

...It also sparked fears that Mr Kennedy was back on the booze. He failed to show up at an afternoon engagement in Penzance, Cornwall, ahead of an evening meeting in the town.

The coverage points out that Kennedy voted in favour of the ban on smoking, then defied the law which he helped create! This is utterly stupid behaviour by Charles. Tom Papworth says under the title "Another let down by Charles Kennedy":

Thank heavens we did not listen to those voices around the party fringe that were suggesting he could make a come-back as leader.

Amen to that!

Here is the story in the Telegraph:

Charles Kennedy, the former Liberal Democrat leader who resigned due to a drink problem, was told off by police yesterday for smoking out of a train window.

Mr Kennedy was seen having a cigarette by a passenger on board a mid-morning London to Plymouth express.

A spokesman for the British Transport Police said: "We were called to the 11.05 Paddington to Plymouth train to a report that there was a man on board who was smoking. The train was met and he was spoken to."

The spokesman added that the matter was dealt with "informally" and no further action would be taken.

It is also in the Mirror here and everywhere else.

Well done Charles!


  1. climb every stairwayJuly 7, 2007 at 2:00 AM

    Utter nonsense. We are the LIBERALS and should be more tolerant of this behaviour as long as it does not harm others.

    So Charlie has a fag, was he blowing it over others? Trains that way can be long 6 hour journeys.

    The real crime are these smoking laws that do not allow the creation of smoking areas. They are discriminatory and illiberal.

  2. CES, Are you able to perhaps just put to one side for a moment the rights and wrongs of the law on smoking? (I made no comment on this specific point in my post) Just concentrate on this: If you are a law-marker you should obey the law. The fact that you voted in favour of the law in question adds an extra twist to it.

  3. CES, What utter twaddle.

    Being Liberal does not mean having the right to break the law. this is the law and it should be followed.

    They say he was blowing smoke out of the window. So where was his cigarette ? Inside the carriage presumably ?

  4. Thanks a bunch Charlie-boy-the last thing we need are ex-leaders writing Labour's by-election leaflets for them!!!

  5. Nich:

    "this is the law and it should be followed."

    That is far from clear. Should we follow all laws? What about laws we consider to be wrong? There are many examples throughout history where law breaking was the only way to effect change, we cannot simply blindly follow the law. The law is not divine.

    However, if you do break the law, you should be ready to accept the consequences.

  6. Tristan, since Charlie voted in favour of the smoking ban this isn't a case of a principled stand against a law.