The story evoked some reactions from local politicians.
Labour County Councillor Brian Oosthuysen was the first to respond and said through facebook:
“Steve, Brian here. I will raise it immediately. Shocking”
The Green Party’s Stroud District Councillor, Phillip Booth, responded by highlighting the GreenParty’s longstanding opposition to the council investing in tobacco:
The Cheltenham Liberal Democrats also tweeted the story out and their local branch secretary, Mel Gladwin responded saying:
Against this back drop, Stroud’s Conservative MP Neil Carmichael’s response is noteworthy for bucking the trend.
I am yet to receive a response from him (although to be fair he hasn’t had much time) but nor do I expect to receive one.
Few Conservatives would follow Neil’s ‘profit at any cost’ logic – I’m not even sure Neil would if you pushed him. For example, I don’t believe many Conservatives would back investment into small arms. Why? Because quite rightly they would say that it is a product that when used exactly like the manufacture intended, kills people.
The obvious parallel here can be made with cigarettes. When a consumer uses the product exactly as the manufacture intends, the product kills.
As the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention rather aptly puts it, “More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined.”
Why then, in this Conservative mindset, is it OK to invest in Tobacco but not guns?
So the question for Neil Carmichael, Gloucestershire County Council and anyone else that backs such deadly investments is: Assuming you agree that there should be some ethical guidelines to investment, what criteria do you think GCC should use that still includes tobacco, a product that is responsible for the death of 6 million people every year?