Well, two years on, nearly four thousand pubs and hundreds of clubs closed, many more holding on by their fingertips with the heart and soul ripped out of them, the promised hordes of eager non-smokers having totally failed to appear. What a great success story! As usual, Pete Robinson pulls no punches in his analysis of the situation.
He debunks the misleading claims that many pubs are thriving despite the ban, the claim that a majority of the public actually support it, and the myth of the “reserve army”:
Those people who never used pubs before the ban don't give a rats ass what changes you've made. Pubs still hold no attraction for them whatsoever and never will. So if you're banking on the 'New Breed' you'll be waiting a helluva long time.He concludes:
We must stop blaming the customers for deserting our pubs and start listening to their concerns - then ACT upon them. Ignore the drinking classes at your peril.On the same subject, I was struck by this poignant montage of closed pubs in the North-West I was recently sent by blog reader “Visigoth”.
Today the State has replaced the traditional pub landlord, and we've left the door open for swathes of ever more intrusive regulation. Compulsory CCTV cameras, authority approved seating plans, state-regulated drink volumes, orderly queuing systems, plastic glasses, special licences to play the spoons or visit the lavatory.
People want their “old” pubs back, warts an’ all. If they’d wanted health clubs they'd have joined a gymnasium. They want proper landlords, not social workers. They want good old-fashioned boozers where State scrutiny stops at the door.
The defeatists within the trade insist pubs must ‘evolve’, we can’t turn the clock back.
Pray they are wrong.