Sunday, 14 March 2010

Vote Labour and lose your pub

The Sunday Times reports today that the Government are planning to reduce the UK drink-drive limit from 80mg to 50mg, following the recommendations of a review by Sir Peter North. Now, this particular kite has been flown many times before, especially by that newspaper, and of course the forthcoming election will at least for a while kick it into touch. But there is no doubt that pressure continues to grow to cut the limit.

Over time, such a reduction would have a slow, insidious effect on the pub trade at least equal to that caused by the smoking ban, and the effect would spread much further than the stereotypical “country pubs”. It would ultimately cut pubs as generally understood back to a small urban rump, and any licensed premises that survived in suburban and rural areas would effectively just be restaurants.

Whether it would make any difference to road casualties is highly questionable, when the vast majority of drink-related accidents involve drivers well over the current limit, and the reduction in traffic police means that you can drive for years without ever being breath-tested – unless, that is, you have just driven off the car park of a pub. So it’s likely to do much more to close pubs than reduce road casualties.

There’s also some odd arithmetic in the article – if it is possible, as it says, for a man to drink 1½-2 pints of beer and stay within the 80mg limit, surely it will in most circumstances be possible for him to drink one pint and stay within the 50mg limit – something borne out by this TRRL booklet from the 1980s. Not that that makes it any better, of course.


  1. Interesting booklet, thanks for putting it up.

  2. Many years ago, a beautiful young girl that I knew was killed when a drunk driver ploughed into the side of her car. The point is that the driver was drunk ~ he was well over the limit. He had not been carefully sipping two pints all night.

    Fatal accidents involving alcohol almost always involve the driver being well over the current limit, so they're hardly going to bothered by a lower one. This measure will only affect the careful driver and is just an example of appearing to do something about a problem, but in reality doing absolutely nothing at all.

  3. Lower the limit to 0 and have a
    massive stop and check 6-9 am.
    Lets hear the shrieking chimps
    plead for liberty and justice,
    tolerance and freedom.
    Are these the same gurgling goats
    who are deaf to the pleas of old
    soldiers and old ladies, who having
    given a lifetime of custom to their
    locals ,are now treated like vermin
    just because they happen to fancy a smoke.

    Freedom for all,,OR
    Freedom for none


    Non driving, 2 pint a weeker.

  4. New Liebour seem to be continuing with their personal vendetta against the countryside and all things rural.

    If this move goes through it will have a devastating effect on rural pubs, many of which are already teetering on the brink, but will probably make very little difference to the overal number of road casualties.

    One well-known micro-brewer told me recently that the local gendarmes are making a point of targetting country pubs. Two have recently closed their doors for good; their customers scared away by such tactics. This is with the current 80mg limit, imagine what things would be like if it is reduced to 50mg.

    The 80mg drink-drive limit has been in force now for over 40 years. During this period it has become an accepted part of being a motorist, and no-one could disagree that it has significantly reduced drink-related road traffic accidents casualties. However, there comes a time when the law of diminishing returns is reached, and cutting the limit to 50mg is a prime example of this.

    With many rural pubs difficult, or even impossible to reach by public transport, and people fightened to drive to them, fearing that a single pint might be enough to put them over the limit, more and more rural locals will be calling last orders for good. Well done Labour!

  5. I've heard this in respect of other areas, the police deliberately targeting specific rural pubs. Even if you knew you had nothing to fear, you would think twice about visiting a pub if you had been pulled up and breath tested on your way home.

  6. The smoking ban has done much more to close pubs than reduce smoking.

    Cutting the drink-drive limit will do much more to close pubs than reduce drink-driving.

    See the connection?

  7. These arguments are far too logical. The health lobbies don't do logic; they do targets.

  8. "Cutting the drink-drive limit will do much more to close pubs than reduce drink-driving."

    Have to agree with you on that one. A very disappointing, if not totally unexpected reaction by the government.

  9. I think the root cause of this is the EU. While many countries ignore or fail to enforce European laws we copper bottom them.

    I am usually sceptical on conspiracy theories, but Labour have admitted that they deliberately allowed in immigrants to rub the noses in the dirt of the right on multi culturalism, I just get the impression that Labour does not like pub culture and sees it as a threat. Too much free speech.

  10. "but Labour have admitted that they deliberately allowed in immigrants to rub the noses in the dirt of the right on multi culturalism".

    Off topic, but er, no they haven't.
    Daily Mail stories do not make for a Labour admission.

    "I just get the impression that Labour does not like pub culture and sees it as a threat".

    Your conspiracy theory roots are coming into play again. You give them too much credit. They have no political agenda over pubs. Like all governments they are iefficient and out of touch and so make many mistakes.

  11. There has, I think, been a generalised feeling underpinning the approach to licensing policy that pubs are a kind of unreconstructed "old Britain" phenonmenon that needs to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. But on this issue it is more of a case of road safety policy being considered in isolation without regard to the wider consequences – I don't think anyone in government really sees it as a good opportunity to close down loads of pubs.

  12. @Tyson

    The point I was posing was whether the destruction of the British pub culture was incidental or deliberate.

    The point on immigration was to bring an analogy insomuch that Labour from 2000 to the end of February 2010 deliberately gave residency to immigrants who do not have the qualifications or skills normally to enter the country. FYI 90% of Afro-Caribbeans and Asians vote Labour.

    Yes the story was reported in the Daily Mail, but it was from a Freedom Of Information Request from Sir Richard Green a former senior civil servant, hardly the type given over to hyperbole.

    "So there was indeed a Labour conspiracy to change the nature of our society by mass immigration."

    "Why the censorship that has now been laid bare? Reading between the lines of these documents it is clear that political advisers in Number 10, its joint authors, were preparing a blueprint for mass immigration with both economic and social objectives."

    It seems certain that Labour set out with a policy objective by deception. I am just posing are they doing the same with pubs?

  13. Sigh. I was waiting to see if you simply were ignorant of the facts or were going to let your politics blind you. I'm still not sure which is the case, but the report you mention by Andrew (not Richard) Green has been pulled apart by many people from both the right and the left. Basically, the document he quotes was not authored by who he claims and it makes it clear that is not an official government policy document.

    Nasa did not fake the moon landings, the Masons did kill Di. And there is no Labour conspiracy on immigration. Or, to get back on topic, pubs!

  14. It never fails to amaze me how so many of my fellows members of the driving public are firmly of the belief that law and order is essential, except when it comes to motorists and motoring. I don’t understand why anarchy should prevail when you get behind the wheel of a car, but many think that way. The law is the law, full stop. Many countries run a zero or near-zero tolerance policy when it comes to drink driving and I think we should do something similar. If you’ve had a drink it really is not a good idea to sit behind the wheel of a car. The problem is that at the moment it’s seen as sort of acceptable because we don’t take a zero tolerance approach. In my opinion our culture should reflect the belief that is not socially acceptable to drink and drive. It is the only way to reduce the problem. Changing the law won’t actually stop it, but it could act as a catalyst to change the collective mindset of our society.

    Oh, and by the way vote Labour, and tell your friends.

  15. It never fails to amaze me how so many people who claim to support pubs actually espouse policies that will lead to thousands of them being shut down. One could be excused for thinking there was actually a large and well-organised Prohibitionist fifth column within CAMRA.

    Do you travel through rural Norfolk, Paul, and rejoice that so many village pubs have closed down, because they depended for survival on the custom of drivers who may have had a pint or two?

    If you’ve had a drink it really is not a good idea to sit behind the wheel of a car.

    That may be your view, but in fact the Borkenstein study which underpinned the original drink-driving legislation showed no increase in accident risk at low blood-alcohol levels – which is why the law provides for a limit, not a blanket prohibition.


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