Long life

Oh, how I will miss the plastic bag!

Its demise may be a rare and heartening sign of our lack of selfishness but life will never be so easy again

10 October 2015

9:00 AM

10 October 2015

9:00 AM

It has taken years, but finally England has joined the rest of the United Kingdom and other countries around the world in declaring war on the plastic carrier bag. This week for the first time English supermarkets are being forbidden by law to give plastic bags away for free. From now on they will have to charge 5p for every one of them. It is the beginning of the end. The plastic bag is heading for oblivion. The most useful shopping tool of the last half-century will soon, I imagine, be extinct.

It seems only appropriate at this point to say how wonderful plastic bags have been. They are the most useful carriers ever invented — strong, light, capacious and absurdly cheap to produce. Life without them will never be so easy again. In future, anyone wanting to buy a few things from the supermarket on the way home from work will have to remember to take a reusable shopping bag out with him in the morning. Anyone stocking up with food at the weekend will have to set out with a supply of his own bags in the car. I already try to do this, but usually forget. Oh, how I will miss the plastic bag.

But the remarkable thing is that the end of the plastic bag, when it happens, will not have been an imposition from above but a fulfilment of the popular will. A consultation exercise carried out eight years ago found, for example, that 90 per cent of Londoners were in favour of banning plastic bags altogether. Ninety per cent of Londoners wanted to abolish one of the greatest conveniences of their everyday lives! Who can say that people are always selfish?

The popularity of the new measure against plastic bags, the docile acceptance of having to pay for something that always used to be free, is evidence of how responsive people can be to campaigns for the wider public good. The campaign against smoking has been successful, too, but smoking kills individuals, which is rather different. Plastic bags just threaten the world.

That threat, however, is impressive. The statistics are enough to alarm anyone. Hitherto in Britain, billions of plastic bags have been given to shoppers each year, and they have all got thrown away. About 60,000 tons of them have ended up in landfills, where they can take more than 400 years to decompose — a process that promotes climate change by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Throughout the world, between 500 and 1,000 billion plastic bags are thought to be consumed annually, more than a million a minute. And those that don’t reach landfill sites get blown about on the wind from the North Pole to the South, littering every continent and polluting every sea.

Those floating out at sea have a devastating effect on marine life. Turtles eat them, thinking they are jellyfish, and die in consequence. Altogether, more than 100,000 mammals, including whales and seals, and up to one million seabirds are thought to be killed each year from eating or getting tangled up in plastic. And like the poignant photograph of a dead child on a beach in Turkey that got the campaign to admit refugees to Britain going, it took a distressing image to spark the revolution against plastic bags.

It was the sight of some albatross chicks dying from eating plastic on a beach in Devon that eight years ago upset Rebecca Hosking, a BBC camerawoman, so much that she persuaded shopkeepers in her hometown of Modbury to give up plastic bags altogether, thus launching the campaign of which we are seeing the results today.

Discarded plastic bags may occasionally have their uses. I am told that in some parts of Africa there has developed a cottage industry in which people turn them into hats. But on the whole I have to say that even I am convinced that they are not a good thing. So I will try not to mourn them. I will stock up on sturdy canvas bags and try to remember to take them with me to the supermarket. Or maybe I should do the sensible thing and start getting my groceries delivered to my home instead.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Show comments
  • Shorne

    For years my wife has carried a fold-up netting bag which comes in a pouch that fits into her handbag, I now keep one in my car. Remarkably capacious, we tend to call them ‘Tardis bags’ and they don’t cut off the blood supply to the fingers.
    NB I am in no way involved with the manufacture or sale of these items.

    • mrs1234

      My mum always used one of those – I’m going to invest in one too if I can find where to buy one.

      • Shorne

        Err…shall we say think of a very big river.

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          In denial?

  • Yorkieeye

    Don’t despair, shop with small traders they are not covered by these new regulations. Only concerns which employ more than 150 people are affected. Shop local AC.

  • Henry Turner

    You’re describing people who want plastic bags to be ‘illegal’ as selfless; but might I ask just what is selfless about wanting to use the governments and its laws as a means to prohibit others from exercising freedom of choice? How can using governmental force to attack others’ liberties be described as ‘selfless?’

    • amphibious

      ummm, because when one person’s “freedom of choice” is a blight on everyone else, and they are too ignorant or arrogant to give a rat’s their freedom ends at my nose.
      Yhink smoking, seat belts, d[eed humps… but you probably would defend those too.

      • Mr B J Mann

        But see my other post:

        The harm claimed to be done by carrier bags is a “liberal” scam!

        What harm does what consenting adults do together indoors do to you?!

        And please don’t bring up the cost to the community of AI….. sorry, lung disease:

        Tobacco covers the NHS costs several times over, including smoking cessation programmes.

        When they brought in seat belts d went up!!!

        Speed bumps actually do more harm than good, includink killing people!!!!

        • amphibious

          Exhibit A for meretricous mendacity – cardiopulmonary disease, the single largest cost to the NHS, is about twice tobacco taxation revenue and, as for the driving drivel, tell us how speeding actually makes for safer driving.
          Consenting adults in private should be able to avail themselves of the whole pharmacopoeia or would that be ‘unearned pleasure’?
          You perfectly ilustrate JS Mill’s observation ” not all conservatives are stupid but most stupid people are conservative.”

          • Mr B J Mann

            Really? Twice?!

            Strange how whenever I’ve seen the figures the tax even covers the cost of anti smoking posters, anti smoking clinics…….

            So forgive me if I don’t bother digging out the data yet again.

            Could it be that the real Exhibits for meretricous mendacity are one or more of you are lumping in non smoking disease, ignoring Duty and only ignoring VAT, and/or the revenue has now been driven down so much by the hiking of taxes, banning of smoking and demonising of smokers, that you are actually right on the current figures.

            But then that is the fault of the anti smoking lobby and the government should find some way of extracting the costs from themselves from the meretricously mendacious do-gooding, nanny state puritanical anti smoking lobby who couldn’t see the bleedin obvious unintended consequences even when they were pointed out over and over again!

            Oh, and the biggest unintended consequences that were pointed out over and over again was that once they’d saved the smokers from an early grave they would be lumbering the state with the even bigger costs of their old age related illnesses and the pensions they used to die before claiming.

            You were warned this would happen so stop whinging!

          • amphibious

            You are repeating the lines of Sir Humphrey from ‘Yes, Minister’. Can’t even manage original thought.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Really? Now don’t forget to share when you actually have something to contribute!

          • amphibious

            I’m not the one channelling a 30yr old comedy. That’s the trouble with buffoons such as yourself, immune to reality or ridicule.

          • Mr B J Mann

            So that’s the best you could come up with in response to my various contributions.

            Would you like to at least point out the particular quotes you were referring to if you can’t actually rise to reasoned debate and rational argument?!

            Then we’d know that you at least aren’t making up your false allegations?!

          • amphibious

            Do the letters B J stand for Blimpish Joke?

          • Mr B J Mann

            So that WAS the best you could come up with in response to my various contributions.

            Have you even read them all yet?

            You might learn something!

            For once!!!

          • amphibious

            You did not answer my question about your (adopted?) initials.
            Your prolix verbosity is indicative of a narcissist who thinks quantity is a substitute for quality.

          • Mr B J Mann

            “Your prolix verbosity is indicative of a narcissist who thinks quantity is a substitute for quality.” says the man who wrote:

            “Your prolix verbosity is indicative of a narcissist who thinks quantity is a substitute for quality.” to ask:

            “You did not answer my question about your (adopted?) initials.”

            Did you ACTUALLY ask, and THAT?!

            Well, they’re actually my initials, as Christened and Registered.

            Happy now?!

            You can go back to your mirror!

          • Mr B J Mann

            And as for the driving “drivel” no one from the public transport funded road “safety” lobby to the taxpayer funded transport “planners” seems to be aware of how the eye and the brain actually work in real life which leads to the unintended consequence of drivers with under 100,000 miles of experience taking up to ten seconds to spot new hazards

          • Linguistician

            “I could go on.

            And on and on and on……..”

            You always do. Don’t break the habit of a lifetime.

            “But I know you closed your mind, shut your eyes, put your fingers in your ears, and started singing “La-la-la-I’m Not Listening!” a long time ago!”
            A lot of people seem to do that to you. Maybe they’re not the problem.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Perhaps if they actually read what I wrote and learned something for once, or eve taught themselves to think for themselves, instead of dedicating their lives to memorising and reciting propaganda!

          • Mr B J Mann

            And as for consenting adults, feel free to explain how supposedly clever “liberals” can insist that an already legal, or even state promoted, entrenched habit that has become a historical part of a nation’s culture, be undermined or banned (traditiona marriage, smoking tobacco.,,,,,,).

            While demanding that new habits that are also harmful to the body or the body politic (smoking weed, single s-x marriage, s0domy………) are legalised and even celebrated?!?!?!!!!

          • Mr B J Mann

            OK, I bit.

            Even ASH says:

            “It is *ESTIMATED* that every year in England smoking costs society £13.8billion.”

            “These costs are spread between health services, businesses, local government and the fire services.”

            “Tax revenue from tobacco sales in 2013/14 was around £9.4billion.”

            “Tobacco still costs England roughly 1.5 times as much as the *DUTY* raised. This results in shortfall of about £4 billion a year.”

            So how can you say that the cost of cardiopulmonary disease alone is about twice tobacco taxation revenue?!?!?!

            Especially when, if you look carefully, that ASH quote doesn’t say tax, it only refers to the “DUTY”!

            And to the TOTAL costs TO SOCIETY being only 1.5 times THE DUTY?!?!?!

            Oh, and that total cost doesn’t just include ALL NHS costs, including things like anti-smoking campaign costs, but ALL “costs” to society, including fag breaks.

            When those fag breaks are the anti-smoking lobby’s fault!

            And they amount to £6.5 BILLION of the total “cost”!

            So while the TOTAL *ESTIMATED* “NHS” cost, INCLUDING “Smoking-related social care”, as well as *ESTIMATED* “Smoking-related disease” (including the ads), and even *ESTIMATED* lost productivity from *ESTIMATED* sick days *ESTIMATED* to be “smoking related” is only is only £3.8 billion.

            Or in plain English ASH’s WILDEST GUESSTIMATED “cost” of smoking to the “NHS” is only less than a half, nearly as low as a third, of JUST THE DUTY STILL being raised from tobacco!

            So feel free to justify your “Exhibit A for meretricous mendacity – cardiopulmonary disease, the single largest cost to the NHS, is about twice tobacco taxation REVENUE”?!?!?!?!

            Oh, and before you start:

            I’d get the figures on the gains to the treasury from smokers not drawing their pensions, nor clogging NHS beds, or draining the welfare budged, in the old age they never see before trying to add in the “lost productivity” from premature deaths!

            Oh, and the *ESTIMATED* cost of passive smoking is total BS.

            Unless it is the figure for anti-passive smoking ads!

            The guy who spent years proving that smoking kills was adamant there was NO evidence for passive smoking having any significant affect whatsoever!

            You should at least try repeating the professionals lines of the Sir Humphrey’s from the Ministry and the anti-smoking industry if you can’t even manage original thought.

            Not channelling 30yr old commie scripts from pre Iron Curtain collapse amateur activists!

            That’s the trouble with buffoons such as yourself, immune to reality or ridicule!!!

            Ever wondered why people like you weren’t trusted with “the good stuff”?!

          • David Illingworth

            I wonder if the estimated cost of cost of smoking includes the reduction in cost to society of providing healthcare and pension benefits into old age. Smoking is a disgusting smelly addiction that ruins families, but the economic case for discouraging smoking may not be that strong.

          • goodsoldier

            The best families I’ve known have smokers in them and they are not smelly people nor are their houses smelly. You must be in a permanent foul, smelly mood. Your ex-wife must be relieved each morning.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Nope. The figures I quote from ASH/NHS are purely the totting up of the estimated, assumed, supposed costs to the NHS + social care, loss of productivity to business from fag breaks (about half the total, even though that’s actually caused by the government and anti smoking lobby forcing smokers to go outside for a fag!) and sickies supposedly pulled because of smoking related illness, and smoking related fires (about £250k pa).

            And even on that, once you allow for the fact that the economic cost of going to the smoking shelter is down to the anti smoking lobby, and not smokers, and take it out of the equation, smoking pays for itself several times over!

            The other side of the balance sheet is totally ignored.

            Not just the points you raised, but also the latest epidemic scare of obesity related killer diseases (not to mention the cost to business of obese workers), one of the causes of which is restrictions on the appetite suppressant better known as tobacco!

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            We’re all victims of the tobacco industry.

          • amphibious

            Unlike you I have a life, hence the delay is responding.
            Given your 904 words (including far too many ‘dog dicks’,!!! the internet equivalent of GREEN INK CAPITALS) compared to my 191, your inane query as to who is the more verbose … gee, that’s a tough one.
            See we may assume that your parents were both prescient & fair to call your ‘Boorish Jerk’.

          • Mr B J Mann

            So STILL no rational counter-argument!!!!

          • Linguistician

            You haven’t presented a rational argument to counter BJ!

          • Mr B J Mann

            Well, I’ll just have to defer to your greater expertise in not presenting rational arguments to counter, I suppose.

    • douglas redmayne

      You teat it’s about preventing damage to marine life such as turtles. The lives of these turtles is infinitely more valuable that those of selfish libertarian turds.

      • Hobie Noble

        Really? They’re not being banned…just have to pay 5p for them(which is only 2p increase in some places)

  • Brian Joran

    Sorry Mr, Chancellor, but supermarkets have to add the tax to home deliveries as well. However, Ocado (I’m just a customer) are very charitably paying 5p on any bags returned to them for recycling on the next delivery .

  • Anton

    Correct me if my imagination is playing tricks, but I seem to remember going to work one cold dark morning in Birmingham in the early 1970s and saw a workman carrying his lunch or whatever in a plastic bag, which, I think, would be quite unusual for the time, as up until the n most workers seemed to have these kind of canvas bags (I think some people used to refer to them as gas mask bags – remnants from the war or just a comical name!).
    This image has stuck in my mind ever since. Would plastic bags be prevalent before then (I remember my mom buying paper bags with string handles from Dudley Woolworths a bit earlier than that)?

    • David Booth.

      Anton- they were gasmask bags from WW2, my father had one for years to take his sandwiches to work (along with twists of newspaper containing loose tea and sugar for his brew, milk also carried in an old medicine bottle) now that’s re-cycling for you.

      • Anton

        Thanks for the confirmation, David. I also remember other left-overs from the war Black Country workers would wear for their dirty jobs, such as army berets, even army jackets from time to time,…

        Can you remember the first time you remember seeing the man/woman in the street carrying a plastic bag?

        • David Booth.

          Anton- sorry I can’t, it seems that like “middle age spread” they have just crept up on us.
          I can remember the first time I saw someone use a ball point pen. It was around 1951 the women in the local corner shop kept a small red notebook for people who have been given goods on credit, aka (tick). She had large cracked fingers in which she grasped the brass body of a ballpoint refill to record the sales.

  • David Jefferis

    I suppose it’s good for the planet, but those bags have so many uses – from breadmaking and general storage to protecting seedlings – my list is near infinite. As it stands I have four reusable bags, none of which ever seem to be in my possession when I amble in to the local Co-op. Hey ho…

  • A truly innovative society would simply revise the recipe for the plastic bag so that it was more compostable/biodegradable (as opposed to merely photodegradable, which means that you never really get rid of it). Will the shops offer paper bags in place of plastic? I think that turns out to be an expensive option. But we cannot ever have a situation in which men are expected to shop and bring their own bags. They simply will not do it.

    • goodsoldier

      California does it and we end out copying everything that Calif. does eventually, usually within ten years.

      • Except for having Arnie for governor, cab sauv as the usual wine, and CFL lightbulbs required for every new lamp….

  • uberwest

    I can hardly believe it, but a pensioner in Gateshead has been mugged for her plastic bags.

    • red2black

      Near where I live, a good few years ago an old boy was mugged. He didn’t have any money on him, so they took his specs and false teeth.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        That’s Brits for you.

        • red2black

          A few of them.

        • red2black

          A few of them.

  • douglas redmayne

    There aren’t any albatrosses in Devon. What are you on about?

    • Gilbert White

      Sshh do not tell everyone, Coleridge!

  • davidshort10

    A chap of AC’s age should have one of the wheeled trolley shopping bags.

  • Kevin Kirkpatrick
  • Mr B J Mann

    Oh purleeeeze?!?!?!!!

    The Spectator is morphing into the Guardian!!!!!!

    Plastic bags DON’T threaten the world!!!!!

    That PROPAGANDA, however, is impressive!

    The statistics are a scam!

    If about 60,000 tons of them have ended up in landfills, where they can take more than 400 years to decompose, then the paid for bin bags that would have been used instead would have created exactly the same problem.

    Assuming there is one!

    And, no, the rest DON’T end up the the sea:

    That’s the pellets used to pack fragile items that have ended up in the sea when shipping containers have been smashed off the decks of ships!

    • David Booth.

      At last the voice of sanity Mr Mann, well done and keep it up.

      • Abie Vee

        he’s a mann with a plan, he’s mister know it all…

      • Linguistician

        Clearly you haven’t read his other comments if you think he is the voice of sanity.

        • David Booth.

          I’ve also read the nasty comments hurled at Mr Mann and to be honest I prefer the arguments he puts forward.

          • Linguistician

            Well that’s problematic, because he never actually puts an argument forward. He merely rants, asserts, and liberally uses inappropriate punctuation. That’s not putting forward an argument, it’s just shouting your opinion.

          • Mr B J Mann

            You seem to think we have so much in common bro!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Linguistician

            I don’t know how you come to that conclusion. We have f*ck all in common, thankfully.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Firstly, I didn’t say we had anything in common.

            Secondly, I was responding to:

            “Well that’s problematic, because he never actually puts an argument forward. He merely rants, asserts,”

            You really should learn to read your own posts, never mind mine, before showing yourself up.

            Looking in a mirror now and again might prove useful too.

          • Linguistician

            Lol, how’s the wife and kids doing BJ? Starting to suspect yet? Stay off those gay porn sites and they might not be so suspicious.
            Bro… (lol)

          • Mr B J Mann


            Ever considered a career in the cinema?

            You’d make a great projectionist!

          • Linguistician

            I wondered how long it would be before I got accused of “projecting”. Be honest, it’s your favourite word isn’t it? Have you ever tried Grindr?

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            “the wife”
            That is so lower middle.

          • Labour-Mole Catcher

            Well, we know that your mother (back in Billingham) is probably never a wife of anybody!

          • Linguistician

            Oh I’m not middle class, even lower middle.

          • GB

            If an argument is something that has a conclusion based on some premises, then I don’t know why you imply that Mr Mann does not use arguments. Whether they are valid or not is a different matter. Just to give the instance from the last paragraph Mr B J Mann @ Shorne the premise is that the data quoted by Shorne are somewhat lacking, the implicit conclusion is that they cannot validate the conclusion, which Shorne tried to make. The argument is absolutely OK though the premises may not be strong and therefore the conclusion may not be accepted, but then anyway you would need to prove the weakness of the premises to support the claim that conclusion is not valid.

          • Linguistician

            We can all be confrontational and criticize someone’s data (without providing any of our own or any data to refute the other side’s or indeed without explaining why the other person’s data is dubious), I wouldn’t call that putting forward an argument. Basically telling someone “you’re wrong” without qualifying it with hard data/facts is the way children debate.

          • Shorne

            ‘BJ Mann’ and indeed many others in these columns exhibit symptoms of ‘Right Man Syndrome’ which I first came across when I was risk assessing prisoners. Essentially, the Right Man is someone whose fragile ego is threatened by any possibility of being wrong. As a matter of ego-defense, the Right Man must automatically and habitually insist that he is right in every situation, no matter what the circumstances and no matter what new information may have come to light. If things don’t go the Right Man’s way then he will resort to threats and violence but in the medium of written comments all he can do is ‘shout’ by means of upper case letters and inappropriate punctuation.

          • Linguistician

            Brilliant, that sums up BJ Mann to a tee, I’d also throw in the hint of a deeply repressed sexuality. Ever seen him on a story about homosexuality? It’s not pretty.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Except that you have never, ever, seen me posting on a story about homosexuality.

            You might have seen me postin on stories about the destruction of Western society by the undermining of its foundational pillars such as traditional marriage.

            And if posts about shared tax allowances turn you on you are sadder than I thought!

          • Linguistician

            Which “traditional marriage” is that?
            Between a man and his property? A man and his slave? A man and his concubine? A man and his child bride?
            There have been so many “traditional marriages” it’s hard to know which one you are referring to.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Yes, yes, we know that a Roman emperor married his male slave. And two their horses. So you know a little of history, always a bad thing, but don’t know that a concubine isn’t a bride,

            And as a “progressive” wishy-washy “liberal” trendy-lefty you probably think that the age of majority should be lowered to at least 16, the age of consent for g-ys to (one step at a time) 14 (after all g-y sex is only “natural” between young animals), and s-x education and c0ntraception should be provided for tweenagers as they’re just small persons with the same rights to explore their s-xuality and enjoy s-x just like taller people.

            Which is only, “natural”.

            But so is mating with small females as soon as there is any chance they might be fertile.

            Oh, and that’s regardless of whether they consent!

            Nature, red in tooth, claw, and naughty bits!

          • Linguistician

            “And as a “progressive” wishy-washy “liberal” trendy-lefty ”
            I get tired of saying this to you: I’m not any of those things. I vote Tory, I’m right wing. Why don’t you listen?
            And why write “g-ys”, it’s not a swear word you know! Neither is s-x!
            Why haven’t you taken my advice and taken those meds?

          • Mr B J Mann

            It doesn’t matter what you say you are. Just look at Cameron and Blair. Next you”ll be telling us you aren’t wacist and some of your bestest friends are gway!

            If you walk like a “progressive” wishy-washy “liberal” trendy-lefty”, and quack like a “progressive” wishy-washy “liberal” trendy-lefty: then you ARE a “progressive” wishy-washy “liberal” trendy-lefty!

            Even, or perhaps especially, if you vote for “progressive” wishy-washy “liberal” trendy-lefty “Tory” Cameron!

            And I write non swear words like that because I keep ending up in ~O^O…::::: Speccy Pending Limbo for not writing non swear words like that.

            And why should I take your advice on taking meds:

            Look what they did to you!

          • Linguistician

            “It doesn’t matter what you say you are”

            Oh, we can both play that game. So I suppose it doesn’t matter that you say you’re straight…coz we all know your true repressed feelings…

            “Next you”ll be telling us you aren’t wacist and some of your bestest friends are gway”

            1. Everyone is racist.
            2. None of my ‘best’ friends are gay, although since I am actually gay myself, some of my less-than-best-friends are also gay.

            “If you walk like..”
            You’re judging my entire personality based on a single political stance re: gay marriage.
            If they’re placing you in limbo for writing perfectly normal words, maybe it’s something else….ever thought of that? Maybe it’s your backward views and aggressive badgering?

          • Mr B J Mann


            I think you’ll find I’m judging you entire personality based on a single hysterical metrosexual “progressive” lefty “liberal” Feminarsty political stance re: abortion!

            Oh, and:


            Oh, oh, and:

            Plastic bags.

          • Linguistician

            I’m anti-immigration.
            And I couldn’t give a fuck about plastic bags.
            And I haven’t even articulated my stance on abortion, so I’d love to know how you know so much about that!
            Now remind me, how do you come to conclude that I’m a [insert a list of words you clearly don’t understand] ??

          • Mr B J Mann

            Errrmmmmmmmmmmmm, so what are you arguing about on this thread, then?!

            If you couldn’t give an fcuk about plastic bags, why are you attacking myself, and others, who try to point out the flaws (and lies) in the bag ban argument?!

            Ditto, why were you attacking me on an immigration thread when I was putting forward the problems with it if you, yourself, are, actually anti-immigration yourself?


            And, of course, the reference to abortion was a mistyped copying re: gay marriage, apologies.

            We all make typos.

            But, see, I’ve held up my hand and admitted it for all to see.

            Unlike the enviroMentalists who mistyped pellets as bags.

            But then continued to repeat the mistake for years afterward, and even misrepresent new research to give the impression that the typo was the truth.

            Now the big question is why do you go to all the trouble to defend those that disseminate the same propaganda, and attack those who try to reveal the truth, if, as you claim, you couldn’t give an fcuk about plastic bags?!

          • Linguistician

            Typing “abortion” when you meant “gay marriage” is not a typo.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Thanks for half sharing. Unfortunately I was brought up in a bog standard ghetto slum primary. So what is the correct term then?!

          • Mr B J Mann

            Test: gay sex gay sex gay sex gay sex gay sex gay sex gay sex gay sex gay sex gay sex!

          • Mr B J Mann

            Test #2: anal sex anal sex anal sex anal sex anal sex anal sex anal sex anal sex anal sex!

          • Mr B J Mann

            Test #3:

            Mr B J Mann > YeahOkFerShure • 20 days ago Pending

            Right, so you’ve covered women who were forced to have sex.

            Now, what if your mother had chosen to have sex and run the risk of it being unprotected?

            Does she have a right, or a duty, to save the world from you?!

          • Mr B J Mann

            Test #4:

            Mr B J Mann > MaxSceptic • 23 days ago Pending


            Did they have careless sex?

            And then, careless, commit to death the unborn child they conceived?

          • Mr B J Mann

            Test #5:

            Mr B J Mann > Alex • a month ago Pending


            So if a rapist is presented with a near naked incapable young stunner:

            He’ll choose the opportunity of a sober old hag in trousers covered in dungarees topped off with a burqua in preference.

            No doubt to exhibit his power and control over old hags?!

          • Mr B J Mann

            Test #6:

            Mr B J Mann > Liberty • 2 months ago Pending

            I don’t know about the States, but in the UK g-ys can’t commit adultery in law.

            (Well, technically, they can, but it would have to be with a person of the opposite sex, and not a g-y l0ver!).

          • Mr B J Mann

            Test #7:

            Mr B J Mann > Norman Dostal • 2 months ago Pending

            From Wikipedia:

            In biology, mating is the pairing of opposite-sex or hermaphroditic organisms, usually for the purposes of sexual reproduction. Some definitions limit the term to pairing between animals,[1] while other definitions extend the term to mating in plants and fungi. Fertilization is the fusion of both sex cell or gamete.[2] Copulation is the union of the sex organs of two sexually reproducing animals for insemination and subsequent internal fertilization. Mating may also lead to external fertilization, as seen in amphibians, fishes and plants. For the majority of species, mating is between two individuals of opposite sexes. However, for some hermaphroditic species, copulation is not required because the parent organism is capable of self-fertilization (autogamy); for example, banana slugs.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Test #8:

            Mr B J Mann > Liberty • 2 months ago Pending

            Errrmmmmmmmmm, who doesn’t know what they are talking about?!?!

            Where did I say it was a criminal offence?

            And how can g-y people be adulterous?!

            They can’t in law!!!

            And if they can’t, how can there be consequences of an act they can’t commit?!?!?

            (Well, technically, they can, but it would have to be with a straight partner, or at least a g-y one of the opposite sex!)

            And as g-ys can’t commit it, it can’t be grounds for divorce, as that would deny g-ys “equality” in “marriage”.

            So they will have to scrap adultery, so further weakening marriage, and so further undermining society.

            Which was the activists agenda all along.

            I have to wonder if you are old enough to marry?

            Even with parental consent!

          • Mr B J Mann

            Test #9:

            Mr B J Mann > Feminister • 3 months ago Pending

            By the way, when you say:

            Q2) Who was it that started a petition to remove a woman from her job in a university because she upset white conservative blokes?

            Are you actually referring to a woman whose job was diversity officer, but in her official capacity she censored and banned people of one sex and one race.

            And even said they should be k!lled?!?!?!?

          • Mr B J Mann


            They seem to have fixed their nanny software.

            But not Pending Limbo!!!

          • Mr B J Mann

            “Risk assessing prisoners”?!

            Well, we all know how well that went!

            As for “automatically and habitually insist that he is right in every situation, no matter what the circumstances and no matter what new information may have come to light”?!

            Projecting again!

            Unlike “liberals” who think that they know the answer to everything because only they have the answer to anything, because the answer is dictated by feelings, and only they have the right feelings:

            I am fully aware how little I know in the grand scheme of things, and that I have answers to even less.

            Which is why you will find that I comment on very few subjects, and those are ones I know a little about, or at least know most people, sadly, know even less about.

            Which might be why some people get the idea I am stalking them personally across the Spectator website!

            As for your “killer” conclusion, while you might be expert in creative writing, I’m more used to factual bullet points and emphasising the salient sections!

            however, i can quite understand why you might see exc amation marks as pha ic symbo ism and capita isation as patriarcha oppression that threatens your safe space and fee the need to protest such micro-aggressions as “inappropriate”:

          • Shorne

            You certainly know little in the grand scheme of things particularly you have no idea whatsoever about my, or indeed anybody else’s work, as a Probation Officer (for 30 years) assessing prisoners for Unpaid Work, Community Supervision, Re-categorisation, Parole and ROTL Of the latter only two of those I recommended for Temporary Licence failed to return on time and neither re-offended. In many cases I recommended that prisoners remained in custody or be sent to prison that’s the kind of liberal I was/am. I certainly don’t know the answer to everything but I do know a reactionary when I see one;
            “A reactionary is a person who holds political views that favor a return to the status quo ante, the previous political state of society, which possessed characteristics (discipline, respect for authority, etc.) that he or she thinks are negatively absent from the contemporary status quo of a society.”

            Looking at your history you comment on wide range of issues always from a reactionary stance
            Your last paragraph is interesting, but not in a good way.

          • Mr B J Mann

            So are you saying that you don’t “favor a return to the….. state of society, which possessed characteristics (discipline, respect for authority, etc.)”?

            Or that you don’t think these “are negatively absent from the contemporary status quo of a society”?!

            Or do you just think that their absence isn’t a negative?!?!?

            Speak up!!!!!

            And, yes, the last paragraph of mine didn’t really put you in a good light, did it?!

          • Shorne

            I can remember the late 50s and early 60s which I suspect reactionaries look back to as a sort of Golden Age. They were stifling, hierarchical, class ridden, racist, misogynist above all boring. Discipline and respect for authority were a front for such things as Police corruption. Politicians could get away with anything more or less unchallenged.
            People who yearn for a return to such times probably imagine that the would benefit from it rather than being victims of it.
            Reactionaries can been on the extreme right like the Nazis or the extreme left like the Khmer Rouge.
            It’s notable that when I directly challenge something you write you totally ignore it. Right Man syndrome again.
            Oh and anybody who thinks exclamation marks can be phallic symbols has problems, not least with his anatomy.

          • Mr B J Mann


            Except that I was pointing out your obvious obsession with their symbolism to you.

            Except that you missed what I was trying to say due to your reactionary right man syndrome!

          • Shorne

            I said absolutely nothing like that. The only symbolism of excessive punctuation marks etc. is to identify, to use a colloquial expression, a weirdo. When you should use capitals you don’t, Right Man Syndrome is an proper noun (which you have never heard of previously but as usual have hijacked) the way you have typed it might suggest somebody looking for Mr. Right…

          • Mr B J Mann

            As I keep pointing out:

            You really should learn to read what others post properly (especially when they try to help you out by emphasising the salient bits for you in various ways).

            And you really, really ought to read what YOU* post before hitting post!!!*

            * Important bits emphasised for you!!!!!!

          • Shorne

            All you actually emphasise is your weird thinking.

          • Mr B J Mann

            I’ll have to bow to your vastly greater expertise in that, after all, I wouldn’t want to upset our resident RMS sufferer!

          • Mr B J Mann

            BTW do you have SMS, or SPS, or both, Napoleon?

          • Shorne

            Sponsorship management system? Strategic Planning Society? I don’t think so

          • Mr B J Mann

            Says the expert in syndromes! Or perhaps you do have RMS after all!!!

          • Shorne

            I suppose I should be flattered you have taken on Right Man Syndrome as your own…time to remember Mark Twain I think.

          • Mr B J Mann

            G to see here folks. Just a Right On Man confirming he suffers from Right Man Syndrome…..

            And SMS….

            And SMS………

            That’s often the way with people with syndromes……

          • Mr B J Mann

            And what do you call your kind of “debate” where you start reading a post that begins with “You’re wrong because……”.

            And stop at wrong and start attacking the poster?

            Or do you actually read the whole of the post and realise there’s nothing you can counter before counter attacking?!

    • Shorne

      Presumably you have evidence to back up what you are saying? although a rash of exclamation and question marks seldom goes with evidence. If you have then match it against this;
      “Plastic bags do not biodegrade, they photodegrade – breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits, contaminating soil, waterways, oceans and entering the food chain when ingested by animals. In the marine environment plastic bag litter is lethal, causing severe pain and distress, and killing at least 100,000 birds, whales, seals and turtles every year. After an animal is killed by plastic bags, its body decomposes and the plastic is released back into the environment where it can kill again. · At the moment the world uses over 1.2 trillion plastic bags a year, which comes to around 300 bags for each adult on the planet per year, and over one million bags being used per minute. More than 17 billion are handed out in Britain every year.
      · Plastic bags become unsightly litter. On average we use each plastic bag for about 12 minutes before disposal. 47% of wind-borne litter escaping from landfills is plastic and much of this is plastic bags, which can last in the environment for decades. We see plastic bags littering our neighbourhoods all the time.
      · Plastic bags are an oil-based product, made from a non-renewable and declining resource. The Scottish Executive recently calculated that the oil used to manufacture 8 plastic carrier bags would power an average car for 1 kilometre – if we all gave up plastic bags we could save enough oil to drive 2,125,000,000 kilometres.
      · It has been estimated that reducing the number of plastic bags in the UK by just 25% would eliminate 58,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year – the equivalent of taking 18,000 cars off the road.”

      • Mr B J Mann

        Well there are two kinds of “science” used by the environM3ntalist bag haters:

        Pure BS guestimates and devious distractive tactics.

        And outright l!es,

        As plastic bags aren’t actually made from oil it would seem your “quote” comes into the latter category, so excuse me if I decline to fact check it in detail.

        But allow me to pass on a few handy hints for if you ever decide to do so:

        Just because something looks like scientific facts doesn’t mean you’ll ever be able to track down any science or facts if you try.

        The cleverer writers will have based their work on real research but will have cleverly biodegraded packaging or wrapping or even packing pellets into plastic bags, in fact the main study on this managed to, purely accidentally, transpose plastic pellets, of which the sea is full, into plastic bags, of which the sea is practically empty!

        They usually “forget” to make a true comparison with the alternatives, eg; what is the REAL lifetime use of a plastic bag?! It’s not 6 minute from the checkout to the boot and 6 from the boot to the larder; it’s several shops then bin liner or poop bag, and if you don’t have them you buy bin liner and poop bags.

        Meanwhile, what’s the real life of a bag for life: it’s born and delivered using vastly more energy, it’s often mislaid, forgotten, or not to hand, requiring an ordinary 5p multi-use bag, it needs to be washed in hot, soapy water at least weekly……. doesn’t last that much longer, and ends up in landfill too!

        But here’s the biggest tip: try reading what you “quote”. A proper scientific report wouldn’t be full of interal contradictions and hype.

        For example why did your writer have to say we use under a bag a day in FOUR different ways in the same THIRD of A paragraph?!

        Another clue is wishy wshy language. Like “47% of wind-borne litter escaping from landfills is plastic and much of this is plastic bags”. So sweet FA!

        The classic was the quote on the “news” (from this “report”?) about how “up to” 30% of plastic in the sea is plastic bags AND OTHER WRAPPINGS! So sweet FA again!

        • Shorne

          So you haven’t any evidence then.

          • Mr B J Mann

            I’ve got plenty.

            I’ve given you plenty.

            You just haven’t bothered to read most of it.

            And what you have read you’ve accompanied with a rendition of “La-La-La-I’m-Not-Listening!” while putting your fingers in your ears after pulling the wool down over your own eyes and keeping it in place with your blinkers and special specs with the red and green tinted lenses you believe give you and people who share your views the only in-depth, fully rounded view of reality.

          • Shorne

            Glad to see less capital letters and exclamation marks being used less, trouble is they are being replaced by over-elaborate imagery. You saying things are true isn’t evidence.

          • Mr B J Mann

            And that’s probably the report that mistyped bags for pellets.

            And if it were true, then why does the latest report only say that UP TO a whopping 30% of marine debris is plastic bags and “wrappings”.

            Which means almost none could be plastic bags and even they might not be carrier bags.

            If you can’t read please stop trying to write!

          • Shorne

            What report?

          • Mr B J Mann

            If you had bothered to read any of my posts you wouldn’t have to ask!

      • GB

        ‘killing at least 100,000 birds, whales, seals and turtles every year’ – well, that actually quite a number. I didn’t know there were so many whales in oceans. Now, when the English stop taking plastic bags from markets, won’t the oceans be overcrowded?

        • Linguistician

          “I didn’t know there were so many whales in oceans”
          You’re either being flippant or obtuse. It’s quite clear he meant 100,000 birds, whales, seals and turtles (collectively), not 100,000 of each.
          Your defence of BJ Mann is suddenly making sense.

          • Shorne

            Thanks, I was just about to point that out.

  • Bonkim

    What will i do for bin-liners? A plastic bag has multiple uses until it gets torn – and then useful fuel for municipal waste to energy plants.

  • Cyril Sneer

    What a load of shit.

  • MikeH

    ‘Anyone stocking up with food at the weekend will have to set
    out with a supply of his own bags in the car. I already try to do this,
    but usually forget. Oh, how I will miss the plastic bag.’

    Or just pay 5p each for some at the checkout?

    • A total rip-off. Better to buy your own plastic from entrepreneurs offering a discount to the government-mandated price. I bought special black dog-poo bags for a brief time, until I decided that I wasn’t picking up (better for nature, better for me, and hurts no one when I artfully cover it up). Now I just use supermarket bags for those times when I simply have to (no pine needles in sight, or it’s someone’s front lawn). But then I live in Florida, and we’re still mainly sane here : )

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      ‘Anyone stocking up with food at the weekend will have to set …

      Come on, Mike. That only applies rubes burdened by paid employment.
      “The working class can kiss my donkey …”

  • Hamish Redux

    “they can take more than 400 years to decompose — a process that promotes climate change by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”

    Yes, in 400 years the climate may well change, but it’s not because of plastic bags, or even CO2.

  • Dave m

    charging a fee for plastic bags is a tax on the poor. its the poor who use these bags for all sorts of things and the government oppresses the poor even further. rich dont care about 5p. and what about biodegradable plastic bags, why should they be taxed?

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      “It’s the same the whole world over,
      It’s the poor that get the blame …
      Sing it for yourselves, lads.

  • Terence Hale

    To be 5p, or not to be 5p, that is the question.

  • Penny

    When shopping this week, my observations thus far are that a) few people own bags big enough to transport certain home furnishings or b) clean enough to carry newly bought clothes (depending on the colour) so will have little choice but to fork out to buy a bag.

    I also saw an interesting situation whereby four shoppers who had only gone in to pick up a few items, headed towards the exit at the same time. None had paid for a bag so all four had the items in their hands The security guard looked a little nonplussed! Of course, the alarm would likely blast out if the goods weren’t paid for but I did wonder if the 5p bag charge might make it just a little easier for shoplifters?

  • Hobie Noble

    Don’t be so bloody daft,,,I’ve got no problem paying 5p.

  • fundamentallyflawed

    ” Or maybe I should do the sensible thing and start getting my groceries delivered to my home instead.”
    Because an army of vans on the roads is ecologically sound

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Actually, if home delivery deduces road congestion and you don’t have to fill the car so often … Bring in on.

    • Mary Woll

      Perhaps a ban on food as such might be more effective. No plastic bags nor polluting cars would be needed.

  • FrankS2

    Anyone wanting free plastic bags, take a look in the average hedgerow – they won’t run out for a while.

    • Mr B J Mann

      Strange, but for the past dozen or so years I’ve commuted past mile after mile of hedgerow and never seen a plastic bag in one.

      Funny how there are so many on the roads you use!

  • Alexsandr

    pity it doesnt even start to address with the rest of the plastic we get from supermarkets. plastic milk bottles, sauce bottles, silly trays for tomatoes, plastic wrapping for weetabix etc. and how much ends up in tiny particles in our food via the food chain?

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Couple of days ago, was in Tsuruya, my local supermarket loading up the shopping, when these two plain clothes dudes showed up, the older one flashing an ID indicating “Sergeant”. I made out that I thought he wanted me to check the spelling (as an ancient Brit in rural Japan you can get away with this sort of *iss take). Anyway in the event they wanted to check my plastic shopping basket on the back of the SUV. But as said basket was a totally different colour (off-pink rather than green) and marked “Seiyu” they were instantly apologising. As it happens I actually purchased the pink basket some 10 years ago for 300 yen when I lived in Kamakura.
    Here in Japan, down-market supers will make a nominal charge for plastic bags (like five yen), but there’s always a ready supply of empty cardboard boxes. So providing you have a car, no worries.
    To me this illustrates the difference between Britain and Japan. If Japan is Disneyland, Britain’s a minimum security prison.
    Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

  • Ambientereal

    When I was young (more than half century ago) I lived with my parents in a little town. There where no plastic bags, we had only fabric bag and brought to the store also pots and jars to bring home some sugar, rice, noodles etc. It was very clean because almost all our residues where constituted by vegetables and fruit peelings. They where eaten by our pork and chicken and converted back into meat and eggs. Almost everything was recycled. What was wrong? For instance the burning of coal and firewood caused air contamination, sewage came untreated to the rivers, etc. With today´s technology we could improve that lifestyle and keep the planet clean and comfortable.

  • emily dibb

    Mr. Chancellor, I sympathise with your dilemma over the plastic bag. Here in windy Cape Town where every fence, every ditch, every bush had become a mausoleum for discarded plastic-bags, the change-over to a cost-related plastic bag has been most beneficial. One soon gets used to it. The trick is to keep a stock in the cubby-hole, and one or two in the handbag. With a little care, they can be used and re-used many times. If folded into a narrow strip, and that strip folded up again after the style of a Samoosa, in triangles, they pack down very small and flat, and many can be stored in a suitable receptacle for when they are needed. Old torn ones make good ties for the garden. Nil desperandum!

  • MikePage

    What’s in yer bag, Angelos?