Saturday, 13 May 2017

Tough on pubs, tough on the causes of pubs

Amongst the proposals leaked this week in Labour’s election manifesto was one to carry out an enquiry into the reasons behind the “large-scale demise” of pubs. This comes across as quite jawdropping, given that the Labour government elected in 2005 both imposed the blanket smoking ban and introduced the alcohol duty escalator. Both of these, especially the former, have been major causes of the decline in pub numbers.

They also twice proposed cutting the drink-drive limit in England and Wales, which would have led to the closure of thousands more pubs, and might well have gone through with it if they had been re-elected in 2010. Whether this proposal stems from a genuine lack of self-awareness, or breathtaking chutzpah, is hard to tell. It’s rather like Dr Beeching calling for an enquiry into the reduction in railway mileage.

The whole thing is comprehensively demolished by Christopher Snowdon, which concludes by saying:

There seems to be a reasonable chance that the Labour government that banned smoking in pubs is the last Labour government Britain will ever have. Tony Blair resigned just days before the legislation came into force in 2007. If so, the final 'up yours' to the working class that the smoking ban represented would be a fitting bookend for a party that was once on the side of ordinary people.
It brings to mind the occasion back in 2009 when Alan Campbell, the Labour minister responsible for regulating the licensed trade, couldn’t recall the last time he’d actually been in one. No doubt if Jeremy Corbyn dared to venture into a pub somewhere outside of North London the customers would impart some home truths to him.

49 comments:

  1. I have to disagree about smoking being a big factor in pub closures. It was the best thing ever, bringing in a ban on smoking. It's a filthy disgusting habit. No pub ever closed solely because of the smoking ban & to try & use that as an excuse is pathetic.

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    1. Oh ffs! What is your explanation for accelerated pub closures then?

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    2. It's all just a mahoossive coincidence. That or TORY CUTZZZ!

      Or possibly unicorns.

      (save your sanity - don't try to reason with drones/bigots/imbeciles)

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    3. Thanks for the value judgement, very useful. I don't suppose that many pubs closed just because of the smoking ban but it probably pushed many marginal ones off the precipice.

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    4. As Chris Snowdon says in the linked article, "Only the most deluded or dishonest anti-smoking campaigner pretends that the smoking ban hasn't hammered the hospitality industry."

      If you genuinely believe that the smoking ban has had no effect on pubs, or only a marginal one, then you are frankly delusional.

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  2. What are Jeremy Corbyn's views on pubs? (Morning Ad)

    Anyway, Labour aren't all killjoys and wowsers. My MP until recently was Tony Lloyd - he resigned his seat to stand for Police & Crime Commissioner, but has just lost his job to Andy Burnham. I've met him several times, mostly in Chorlton pubs - in fact, I think the only time we weren't on licensed premises was when he came to our door canvassing.

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    1. Corbyn seems to like pubs and apparently he's not teetotal although he doesn't drink much. Still not voting for him though.

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  3. there were undoubtedly pubs surviving just on trade from smokers, that went out of business following the smoking ban...but Id still always say its not the single cause, there are more reasons for it than that.

    but manifestos are wish lists by politicians to try and hoover up as many votes as they think they can sway their way, its not that theyve suddenly discovered a policy on pubs, or realised they did something wrong, its that theyve noticed CAMRA busily trying to encourage members to get candidates signing up to their pubs campaigns manifesto, theyll have noticed its been debated in the Commons alot, theyll have noticed it fits nicely to rhetoric about big business for the few not the many mantra.

    so it fits with their overall campaign themes, its something the other parties dont have much to say on, it doesnt have to cost in so no embarrasing holes in budgets, and it might swing a few votes their ways, thats really all its about.

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  4. Alan Campbell's comment from way back in history was probably tongue in cheek. I've known him since he was a teacher and often used to have a beer with him in several of my locals especially after he was elected. He still gets in from time to time. As far as pub-going MP's go he must be one of the better variety. Not much cop as an MP though.

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    1. If it was tongue-in-cheek it was a pretty sick joke.

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  5. Many western countries operate smoking bans in public places, and I strongly suspect that if Labour hadn’t introduced the ban, here in the UK, then the Conservatives would have done so. Surely it’s time to bury this old chestnut once and for all. Pubs are far more pleasant places now that customers don’t have to breathe other people’s stale tobacco smoke. Even my wife, who is a lifelong smoker, thinks the same. This is nothing to do with health issues; just a desire to be able to breathe clean and unpolluted air.

    I accept this is your blog Mudge, but why try and hide your right-wing political views behind a post which purports to be about pubs, when it is nothing more than a piece of blatant, click-bait electioneering. The Tory party have now morphed into UKIP, and seem determined to carry on pursuing a policy which will damage the country’s economic prospects for generations to come.

    The truth is very few politicians actually care tuppence about pubs, and most would say anything if they thought there were a few votes in it. Neither of the two main parties will be getting my vote in this unnecessary election, which has been called to puff up a Prime Minister who is already far too full of her own self-importance, and can only talk in slogans (strong & stable), rather than anything of actual substance.

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    1. If the smoking ban endures a thousand years, it will be no less wrong, and I have absolutely no intention of "burying this old chestnut". Indeed, given that the tenth anniversary is approaching, expect to see plenty more harping on about it. And it's a matter of historical record that it has caused grievous damage to the pub trade. As it says in the sidebar, if you don't like it, you don't have to read it.

      Pubs certainly aren't more pleasant places if they're closed, or have few customers left. And antismokers conveniently forget that there were plenty of pubs with non-smoking provision before July 2007. If you really were *that* bothered about it, it wasn't too difficult to find one.

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    2. No smoking pubs existed in 2003.
      http://www.thestar.co.uk/whats-on/out-and-about/phoenix-pub-condemns-cigarettes-to-the-ashes-1-317927
      and many more had opened by 2007. Had there been no Government interference, we would have ended up with a mixture of smoking and no smoking pubs - the relative proportions reflecting customer preference. Many of the smoking pubs would be far better ventilated to attract the more pragmatic non-smokers. That stable equilibrium, with which the vast majority would be content, was ASH's worst nightmare. That's why it had to get a total ban.
      Jonathan Bagley

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    3. One unpleasant effect of the ban is to make the outside areas of pubs and the pavements in front of pubs much less pleasant places. Sitting in the beer garden of a summer evening, sipping beer and watching the sun go down, is now a pleasure denied to smoke-averse people. Wading knee deep through fag ends on the pavement on a Sunday morning is not a pleasant experience. Nor is having to squeeze through a crowd of burly smokers to hget to the front door of the pub.

      In my ideal world smoking would be confined to indoor locations where one can choose to enter or stay out

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    4. Soon solve that one. Allow the Police to practice their tazer skills on them.

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    5. "Allow the Police to practice their tazer skills on them." - What practice tazer skills on hateful anti-smoking filth you mean? A bit harsh , easier to repeal the smoking ban and so that anti-smokers can get their own pubs and be nowhere near people that don't have share their extremist views.

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  6. JJeremy Corbyn will be the best thing for Britains Pubs.

    We all know pubs are dying a slow death due to irrelevance. The bitter, pies and crisps old timers like doesn't do it for the kids. Pubs need a new purpose.

    Jezza will nationalize them, stopping evil capitalists. Then he will make them the go to venue for todays tee total vegan marxist. We will be able to enjoy every herbal tea imaginable and dine on the finest falafels.

    There'll be no dodgy banter. It'll be a feminist heaven of right on political discussion.

    Pubs will thrive with Jezza.

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    1. Don't forget the inevitable 'gender fluid' bogs. That would be amusing...

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    2. That's more an aspiration than a firm policy aim at the moment. Some of the shadow cabinet baulked at the idea of using the same bogs as Diane "Can't half sh1t, that girl" Abbot and Emily "I'd give that 10 minutes if I were you, pal" Thornberry.

      Jeremy has asked them both to add more fibre to their diets so that they may work towards a gender neutral toilet situation but in truth he doesn't hold much hope of an immediate solution, knowing Diane from the time they holiday'd in East Germany together and had to himself face using a lavatory after her.

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  7. Paul Bailey: 'Pubs are more pleasant after the ban'? Not for me and many of my smoking and smoking-tolerant friends, they're not. Want 'clean' and not 'stale' air? Then support the options of going to a pub with better ventilation, or a pub with a separate smoking room, or a pub that elects to be nonsmoking in a free market. Or try standing outside, after all smokers don't have a problem doing that, right?! You (and other predictable smoker-bashers) are entitled to your opinions and your tastes. But (and regardless of how many people feel the same way) those opinions and tastes should not be forced on everyone everywhere by law.

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    1. If you’d bothered to read my comment properly anonymous, you would have seen that I am married to a life-long smoker, and have been these past 32 years. Labelling me as a “smoker basher”, is therefore both inaccurate and untrue.

      I was merely passing comment that pubs are a lot more pleasant without having to fight one’s way though a haze of stale tobacco smoke. My wife feels the same way too.

      With hindsight the issue of smoking in public places could and should have been dealt with in a more adult way, and with modern extraction systems, this would have been possible. Good luck in trying to amend the legislation on that one now – hence my comment to Mudge about dropping his obsession with the ban. As people are all too fond of saying to me, over another topical subject, “Get over it!”

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  8. 17042 pubs closed since the smoking ban was implemented in July 2007,that is nearly 10 years ago,surely not every pub that has closed since then is down to the smoking ban,a well known Nottingham pub closed down a few weeks ago that that was making a profit,but due to high rent rises the people who had run it for 8 years decided to call it a day,nothing to do with the smoking ban,i was a regular visitor to the pub and usually very busy.

    Regarding this post i also think it a right wing view on the election coming up,the torys seem to have almost dropped the name from their bus,will it be president May and is she a new thatcher in the coming.
    As a life long Labour supporter i fear for the normal working classes again as it is going too far to the right again.

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    1. 17042 pubs closed? Eh? Where does that number come from? According to Diane Abbots official figures the smoking ban created eleventy billion new pubs.

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  9. Pubs have largely closed because of the smoking ban.

    That isn't the only reason. Pubco policies are another.

    However, for the customer -- 65% of whom were smokers when the ban came into effect nearly 10 years ago (Marketing Week survey, IIRC) -- pubs are no longer the same.

    My local now has all day breakfasts and 10 a.m.-to-3 p.m. cream teas. That's a pub?

    Anti-smokers, wake up and smell the coffee.

    Yours disgusted
    Churchmouse (still a smoker, not of Tunbridge Wells)

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  10. Why do people keep banging the smoking drum? Regardless of support or not for the ban, that war is lost. People would be better occupied in a war that can still be won - against the anti-alcohol lobby.

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    1. The two are not mutually exclusive, you know. And the anti-alcohol lobby can never be effectively fought unless it is understood that it and the anti-tobacco lobby are two sides of the same coin.

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    2. Nail on the head, Mudge. And it's not all over. There is still huge resentment felt by thousands, if not tens of thousands of smokers who have been effectively excommunicated because the gullible politicians believed the lies of the zealots. And as Mudge says, the moves by the temperance lobby are based on the Tobacco Control template, with lies and exaggerations aplenty. If you don't want to suffer the same fate as smokers, you'd better support the idea of smoking pubs / pub rooms.

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  11. When Jeremy expands the smoking ban to outdoors we will see pubs given a new lease of life.

    No longer will people be put off using them by the cloud of smoke by the entrance and tatty beer garden full of fag ends.

    A new generation of health conscious young socialists will want to use them to sip latte's and discuss the finer points of Das Kapital and which IRA terrorist to build a statue of.

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    1. I think that the one who became Minister of Education at Stormont might be a good first choice.

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  12. It came to the point when a visit to a town pub meant the bass beat at a decibel level that hurt the head and a village pub expected you to have a meal if you sat at a table. The days, or rather evenings, of just going out for a pint or pints had gone.

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  13. "This comes across as quite jawdropping, given that the Labour government elected in 2005 both imposed the blanket smoking ban and introduced the alcohol duty escalator. Both of these, especially the former, have been major causes of the decline in pub numbers."

    Yes but it's Labour, innit?

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  14. I suppose the interesting question might be, not "did the smoking ban close pubs", but would those pubs still be open otherwise. Especially with the decline in real wages that we've had over the last few years.

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    1. How many other consumer-facing business sectors have experienced a 33% drop in custom, or anything like it?

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    2. CD rentals stores for one!

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    3. Jeremy Corbyn's fully costed economic program will make us all richer. It'll work, just as it worked in Venezuela. Socialism always works and when it doesn't it's not proper socialism. Jezza's socialism is proper socialism and will work to make us all equal and all have enough money for alcohol free refreshment and unlimited falafels.

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    4. CD rental stores (I assume you mean DVD rentals) are another example of a business that has been affected by trends above and beyond the performance of the general economy.

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    5. I don't know... but then it's a funny sector isn't it, the pub? Completely discretionary, but not dominated by high income customers. In competition with the supermarkets and their mahoosive buying power. I wonder if the high street bookies might be an apt comparison.

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  15. I don't think anyone is seriously saying that the smoking ban is the ONLY cause of pubs closing. For instance I'm well aware that a lot of young people aren't going to pubs any more, because of social media, and more different choices than older people, and having grown up in a nanny state - they're not even drinking for God's sake, they're scared of everything. And there are other reasons, but there's no question that there was a very steep decline after the ban - people like Chris Snowdon for instance have shown it very clearly in a graph - and the ban alienated an important segment of the pub-going population, people who were real 'pub people', who could have kept a lot of pubs going that instead, have closed or are struggling. And it was all so unnecessary.

    As for 'get over it', 'get used to it', 'move on', etc . . . if you really believe something is wrong, it's still wrong! People were probably saying 'get over it' ten years into Prohibition, but three years later it was over. Smoking bans will be gone too at some point - though I'm starting to think I won't live to see it.

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    1. Spot on there. Of course nobody is saying that the smoking ban has been the sole cause of pub closures, but it's delusional to claim that it hasn't been a significant cause. And, if something is wrong, the passage of time doesn't make it any less wrong.

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    2. I'll never support the full smoking ban, I always thought a pub that doesn't sell food should be able to have a smoke room if they wish.
      I certainly think working men's clubs should be able to.

      However the smoking ban combined with cheap supermarket beer and all day opening saw a lot of small pubs off, they just couldn't compete and afford to stay open.

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    3. The smoking ban is more likely to be extended to cover outdoor areas than be repealed or amended in favour of smokers.

      The smoking lobby have failed miserably these last 10 years to achieve anything and show no signs of coherent organisation or popular support.

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    4. That's because there is no 'smoking lobby'.

      Just a lot of disparate people who are being shat on from a great height, who have been silenced by the media (have you any idea how often comments in defence of smokers are 'moderated' out of existence in the MSM?), and who are facing an organisation which pours hundreds of millions of dollars a year into propaganda calculated to indoctrinate everyone, including smokers themselves, into a smoker-hating mindset.

      But the ban will be rescinded. Not perhaps in my lifetime, as I'm coming up to my allotted three score years and ten, but it will happen. Despite the billions spent on lies and propaganda, resistance is growing, year on year, and with the internet reducing dependence on the MSM, and people's increasing awareness of alternative news sources, Tobacco Control are starting to lose their grip on the information highway. Their desperation to keep the gravy train rolling is beginning to show, as their claims become ever more outlandish.

      And people are starting to notice. More and more frequently these days, when yet another standard-issue anti-smoking piece appears in the MSM, the comments are becoming ever more sceptical and critical. Their shrill posturing is turning into a Banshee wail as they desperately demand ever more illiberal measures to persecute the objects of their loathing. But the worm is turning, and their days are numbered. In years to come, people will look back on the social and economic devastation these fanatics managed to wreak on the world, and wonder how it was ever allowed to happen.

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    5. There's no smoking lobby? Hmm. I'm not entirely sure you're absolutely 100% correct there, dear.

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    6. The only political party advocating smoking ban repeal is UKIP which look to have died on there @rse post Brexit.

      Smoking ban repeal is one policy the Tories could not be bothered stealing.

      Therefore if you are a betting man would you bet on the smoking ban being extended to outdoors or repealed?

      I know where my quid would be.

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    7. Cooking, I am rather inclined to agree with your assessment. Polls show a slim majority in favour of allowing separate smoking areas inside pubs (When asked non binary questions). We (smokers) need those numbers to go up to get this ban amended or repealed but it is an upward struggle because the anti-smoking industry has very deep pockets. However, I don't think it impossible - merely very difficult! Smoking ban(s) fatigue will set in at some point.

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    8. Cooking,
      postscript:
      And while we are waiting for the smoking ban to be amended and repealed we shall carry on using our initiative!

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    9. "I know where my quid would be."

      Or indeed on further restrictions on the consumption of alcohol.

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  16. I know where my quid would be.

    Oh, I think you're probably right - I'm sure it will get worse before it gets better.

    However, there is growing resistance to further restrictions already. If you recollect, only recently the proposal to introduce outdoor bans in parts of London was met with incredulity and derision. And not just by smokers - by everyone. People are getting increasingly fed up with the incursions of the state into their private lives. It has ceased to be so much about smoking now. It's increasingly about people's right to make their own decisions.

    While it was just about smoking, people were happy to go along with it, because most of them weren't smokers, and were unaffected. But now the things that they personally enjoy are in the cross-hairs of 'Public Health' (as we smokers were predicting long ago), it's dawning on people that despite the protestations of Tobacco Control that tobacco was a 'unique product', and that "no, of course this isn't the top of a slippery slope", bans and restrictions are coming to a place very close to them. And they don't like it.

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  17. I have to say i find the whole 'nanny state' and 'new puritanism' sentiment that is permeating politics today is not an case of left vs right but rather one of class. It is that condescending attitude of knowing best for others that seems most prevalent in the traditional middle classes that has dictated much of these issues.

    Politicians of many a stripe will gladly promote these swingeing policies as they a) portray a supposed moral high ground, b) appeal to the less politically entrenched, 'floating' voter and c) inevitably involve some form of revenue gathering.

    So although Labour introduced some disastrous policies for pubs such as the smoking ban, there has been precious little opposition against these by any politicians of any party since.

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