Letters From A Tory thinks the Conservatives should institute a “Save Our Pubs” campaign:
In 2008, 1,973 pubs shut up shop which was 40% higher than 2007. A report by a cross-party group of MPs last month found that more than 60% of villages no longer have a pub. The Labour government are so clearly in tune with the pulse of the business community that they think now is an excellent time to pummel the drinking industry with more regulations and laws under the heading of ‘binge drinking’. MPs are currently debating a mandatory code of practice that will ban speed drinking promotions and women-only nights as well as introducing smaller glass sizes and new compulsory qualifications for bar staff – all of which will cost pubs more than £300 million this year to implement. The government claim that “these new proposals are not intended to penalise those businesses that do act responsibly – particularly in the current economic climate”, a truly incredible statement when these measures will obviously not work and will cost thousands more jobs in the process of not working.
[Ken Clarke] needs to do what Alan Duncan failed to do which is come up with proactive solutions to get the industry and voters onside. Gerry Sutcliffe, the licensing minister, is already pushing for changes to the licensing system that will make it easier and cheaper for pubs to extend their range of services but without having to pay hefty sums to rewrite their licensing agreements. This is precisely the kind of policy that will receive considerable support as there are no losers and plenty of potential winners. Pubs already have to apply for a license just to put on live music (a process which was branded “complicated and expensive” by ministers at the time) and no doubt there are plenty more box-ticking exercises that await them should they wish to offer facilties such as B&Bs for tourists. Personally I would lift this burden immediately to help stop the rot. In addition I would stop punishing every pub in the country for binge drinking.
It would indeed be good if the Tories (or any other political party) instituted a campaign to “Save Our Pubs”. But it’s unlikely to happen, since all the parties have their share of joyless puritans who disapprove of alcohol.
There is a problem with a small number of people who regularly get rat-arsed and then cause nuisance, disruption, and occasional violence, particularly in city centers. It’s reasonable to punish these people — maybe they could be forced to take a drug such as disulfirum which makes them ill if they drink alcohol. But it is wrong to punish all drinkers for the wrongs of a few.
There’s nothing wrong with booze being cheap. Indeed cheapness — in terms of the amount of time an average person has to work to buy something — is a sign of wealth and progress, and is a good thing. As for the government’s ridiculous alcohol limit of 3-4 units a day, I break that every time I visit a pub as does everyone who drinks two pints of average strength beer.