14 Jun 2008

Hamish Howitt to stand gainst David Davis

Pro-smoking v pro-terrorist that is Hamish Guy Fawkes Howitt's message. Blackpool's smoking ban rebel landlord has revealed he is to take on resigning Tory MP David Davis and stand for parliament. Hamish Howitt, who owns two pubs on Rigby Road, Blackpool, has consistently campaigned against the smoking ban and allowed customers to smoke in one of his bars since the ban came in last July. And he now plans to catapult the issue into the national spotlight by taking on the former shadow home secretary. Davis shocked the world of politics by stepping down from his post on Thursday to fight a by-election in his Haltemprice and Howden constituency, near Hull, on the issue of 42-day detention limit for terror suspects. And Howitt, standing under the party name Freedom to Choose, intends to challenge him, saying Mr Davis is standing up for terrorists while failing to stand up for: "ordinary working class smokers." "The man is a hypocrite and what he's doing is a publicity stunt," he said."Why, if he is campaigning about the erosion of civil liberties, is he standing up for the rights of suspected terrorists but not smokers?" My priority is to expose David Davis' hypocrisy and I actually think the majority of the public back plans for 42 days detention anyway. I'm hoping to arrange a big meeting and drum up some support. My wife is from near the constituency, so I have got some experience of the area." Mr Howitt, 55, who owns non-smoking Delboy's Sports Bar and the pro-smoking Happy Scots Bar, has also secured funding for his campaign from millionaire businessman David West, who himself defied the smoking ban at his nightclub in London. As well as Davis, he will likely be challenging Kelvin MacKenzie, the former Sun newspaper editor, who, backed by his former boss Rupert Murdoch, revealed he was likely to stand in favour of the 42-day detention limit. And another person set to be challenged by Howitt is Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden. The landlord has revealed that if he is unsuccessful against Mr Davis, he plans to oppose Mr Marsden at the next General Election."It's hard to take on the party machines," he said."I've got no money, no secretary or anything like that but someone needs to stand up for the ordinary working class people."Britain is crying out for someone to challenge the monopoly and lies of the big parties and that's what I've tried to do in standing up for smokers."The Labour Party and Liberal Democrats will not field candidates in the by-election, which takes place next month. Both Howitt and his wife Jo, from Park Road, Blackpool, face outstanding charges of breaking the smoking ban, and are due to appear at Blackpool Magistrates Court facing four charges each on Wednesday.Last November, Howitt became the first landlord in the country to be convicted of breaking the smoking ban, but efforts by Blackpool Council to close his bars down have so far been unsuccessful.

(Repreoduced from Blackpool Gazette 14th June 2008)

It will be interesting to see if Howitt and Mackenzie lock horns given the latters slurs on Scots despite his name.

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