Or so it should be, according to Simon Heffer.
I know drinking gets a bad press in other contexts these days. Anyone who ventures into our town centres on a weekend evening will see that it is justified. The establishments that service the binge-drinkers are not, in my definition, pubs: they are impersonal drinking factories where no conversation is possible, and where you will certainly not see men in cloth caps playing cribbage or dominoes. I wish the government would persecute these people instead of the harmless, moderate social drinkers. Let them sate their desires by imposing routine four-figure fines on those who behave badly after drinking. Let them remove the licence from, and fine, any establishment that serves them when drunk. The problem would soon stop.One can imagine the joyless Puritans of New Labour taking delight in ripping the heart out of rural England. But, come on Dave, you’re supposed to be a Conservative. If you do it, you will never be forgiven in the Shires.
Just as tyrants like Hitler created the impression that all nationalism was racist and evil, so binge drinkers and alcohol abusers offer apparently convincing evidence that all drinking is harmful and must be curtailed. Yet there is a positive, and socially important, drinking culture in our countryside that is focused upon the rural pub. I do hope that no government will be stupid enough to damage that, and rip the heart out of our villages.