Wednesday, August 10, 2005

24 Hour Party People?

We have a funny attitude to alcohol in the UK. On the one hand, we have the most draconian licensing laws in Europe. On the other, we abuse the substance more than any country in the Western world. With the possible exception of Australia, who would enter a drinking team to the Olympics if they could.

So it's been interesting to read the backlash against the proposed licensing reform laws today. Apparently, warn senior judges and the police, extending pub opening hours will lead to an increase in violence, sexual assault and public disorder. In addition, wild tigers will roam school playgrounds, Gibraltar will fall to the Spanish and plagues of locusts will descend upon the Home Counties. Or something.

Personally, I'm not convinced we need 24 hour pubs either. That seems a bit excessive. But it is without question that we need to liberalise the current laws. How patronising to be ordered to stop drinking at 11pm. "The government has decided that you've had enough. Now go home. You have to be at the munitions factory at 7am." A ridiculous hangover (excuse the pun) from World War One that is totally at odds with lifestyles in the 21st century.

Truth be told, if pubs were open all day in this country, it would be carnage. It's bad enough in late bars now thanks to a sizeable chunk of arseholes, but why should the majority have to suffer because of them? Is it really so ridiculous to propose that, on a Friday or Saturday night we should, if we so choose, be allowed to stay in the pub until one or two in the morning? Oh, the horror of it all!

I seem to remember a similar resistance in the late 1980s when the law changed and allowed bars to stay open from 11am to 11pm without having to shut between three and seven. All hell would break loose, some claimed. People wouldn't go back to work. Children wouldn't be picked up from school. The very fabric of society would be torn apart. Didn't happen, did it? And it won't this time, either.

It's all a fuss about nothing anyway. Hardly any pubs will apply to open 24 hours a day: it wouldn't be economically feasible for them to do so. But if landlords want to stay open for a few hours more (even if it's only at the weekend) they should be allowed to do so and I, for one, will be cheering when this finally happens.

Mine's a pint. Oops, no, I can't. It's 11:01pm. It's against the law.


Laura said...

To be honest, I reckon it would be carnage for a while, as the so called tossers drink as if all their christmases have come at once. But after a while I reckon it would have a positive effect. I think it would reduce binge drinking as there's no longer the need to "get as much down your neck by 11pm". Hopefully attitudes towards drinking will relax a little. People will go out later, and possibly eat before they do so rather than drink on an empty stomach and throw a kebab down their neck when it's already too late.

Sam said...

Drinking seemed a lot more laid back when I visited over there. I didn't realize there were "time laws". Over here (US) our drinking age is 21, and I have to say that I haven't seen any kind of positive thing come from it. Kids still get alcohol one way or another and when they do get their hands on it, they binge drink until there isn't a drop left. It's hard to control everyone. Obviously one has to be responsible for one's self. I'm with Mrs. Jones too. Hopefully people will start eating beforehand and just go out later.

PH said...

"Why should the majority have to suffer because of them." I assume by majority you mean sensible drinkers who want to drink longer. I reckon that this majority is in fact a very small minority of the population. The real majority is society in general who are fed up with the problems these people generate. Extending licensing hours has the potential to make the situation worse, so for the good of us all the sensible drinkers should drink up by 11 p.m. - its a small sacrifice to make.

Shanna said...

I'm obviously not up to date on the drinking laws "over the pond". Your pubs stop serving at 11??

I don't even leave the house to go to the bar until 10. I think I would die if I lived there!!!

Anonymous said...

A small sacrifice to stop drinking at 11 because otherwise some half-brained pisshead called "Stevey" will get even more drunk and violent than he is already is on a Saturday night? No. Why the fuck should I?!

Perhaps we should be wondering why these dead-heads drink the way they do, rather than penalising those who - quite respectably - wish to drink beyond 11.00.

Citizen Sane said...

I honestly believe that extending pub drinking hours will reduce the problems, not exacerbate them. People would go out later, drink to their own pace and, more crucially, would not all be thrown out into town at exactly the same time as every other pub in the area. I accept things may get worse in the short term, but over time attitudes will change and so will drinking behaviour.

And if not, everyone else can say "told you so", the law can be reversed by the Tories and I'll go and live in Belgium.

Alex Swanson said...

It's worth pointing out that the same argument applies to gun ownership. We have the most intolerant firearms laws in history - and almost the most intolerant in the world - and yet gun crime is higher now than it has ever been. Could it just be that laws affect only the responsible? But of course, the prevailing political culture of today is that ordinary citizens are untrustworthy serfs who should be kept in their place, ideally by force.

Citizen Sane said...

Alex, I'm not sure I really understand what you're saying. I don't think we have "intolerant" gun laws, I think we have "sensible" gun laws. Guns are designed for one purpose only: to kill. They have no other use. Therefore it is unquestionably a good thing that people cannot routinely acquire them.

ph said...

As I always thought, the driving force behind liberalism is selfishness - as Anonymous and his mate 'Stevey' have so clearly demonstrated.