Thursday, 23 January 2014

Outbreak of reality

There was a rare eruption of home truth in the Daily Telegraph earlier this week in a piece by Peter Oborne entitled The smoking ban killed the British pub. This vandalism is Labour's defining legacy He wrote:

Some people believe Labour’s defining legacy is Iraq. Others think it is the hunting ban. But the issue which has affected most people and which has damaged the fabric and appearance of British community more than anything else is the loss of the local pub.

The British pub is internationally famous. It is entirely bound with the nation's history. Yet 26 are closing per week – more than 1,000 a year – changing the look of the nation. Town and countryside are littered with pub corpses, boarded up and often awaiting permission for conversion to flats or houses.

And it is not as if something else has come along to bring communities together. Instead, people sit in front of their televisions. This terrible process started with the ban on smoking. Labour was warned that it would result in pub closures, but went ahead regardless. The people it was supposed to protect – the bar staff – have suffered catastrophic job losses as a result (though this is rarely noticed, as so many bar staff are non-unionised, cash-in-hand foreigners). Labour knew this would happen, as the state of British Columbia in Canada had introduced a similar ban a couple of years earlier and the immediate result had been bar closures and (I have been told) one third of bar jobs lost.

For the Labour Party to have initiated a Parliamentary debate on the future of pubs when they have done so much to destroy them really is an act of contemptible hypocrisy. It is bizarre that a party that claims to stand up for the working class will leave as one of its most lasting achievements the destruction of the pubs and clubs that helped bind working-class communities together. In a hundred years’ time it is what they will be remembered for when so much else has been forgotten, just as the implementation and repeal of Prohibition are about the only legislative acts most people remember about the USA in the twenties and thirties.

Mind you, nowadays they seem to represent the interests of benefit claimants and public sector professionals rather than anyone who actually works with their hands for a living. About the only worthwhile thing that Stockport native Owen Jones has ever said is that, in a couple of generations, the English working class have “gone from being the salt of the earth to the scum of the earth”. From the noble Stakhanovite coal miner to White Van Man with fag in mouth and copy of the Sun on the dashboard.

This chimes with the comments made in this blogpost by Russell Taylor about how modern-day metropolitan liberals hate the poor:

When the deprived masses favour things that liberals can’t comprehend…well, forget it. Their fondness for smoking cigarettes, eating junk food, and frequenting pubs that aren’t disinfected gastro eateries, is inexplicable to the liberal elite. It’s not that they want the poor to adopt their interests, or to join them at the top table – God, no – they just don’t want them acting in ways that offend their delicate sensibilities, or getting so cocksure that they think they can get by without liberal help. Ultimately, it’s about power. They want to exert their moral and social authority over the poor, while keeping them in their place. Liberals don’t mind addressing them from a soapbox or pledging their support in a Guardian article, but the last thing they want to do is actually mingle with them or befriend them.


  1. Before you all start, note that nobody is saying all pubs must allow smoking. Also, it was legal for pubs to be no smoking before the smoking ban. Wetherspoons tried it but gave up. I believe the Laurel company successfully operated a no smoking policy before the ban.

  2. The labour policy on pub co regulation seems to be straight from the post socialist hand book of knowing they will get nowhere advocating socialism so instead try to make out crony capitalism is better than actual capitalism.

    Should we be surprised the leftie beard club are all in favour?

  3. Russell Taylor is clearly woefully ignorant as to the meaning of the term "liberal". If anyone hates the poor, it is illiberal social conservatives and other assorted snobs and bigots who seek to tell people what to do.

    As for "elite", well that is neither here nor there. Does he mean the right wing financial elite? or the liberal, typically left wing, intellectual elite? What?

  4. He is using "liberal" in the US sense, as he explains in the final paragraph.

  5. Actually, Laurel Pub Co maybe not a good example

  6. The US sense of the term means "non-evangelical Christian", and makes absolutely no sense whatsoever out of the context of the US.

    Calling liberals authoritarian is like calling up down. The two words are antonyms.

    I am a liberal in both senses of the word, because I am neither an authoritarian, nor a hardline right wing evangelical Christian. So are you Mudgie.

  7. Lord Egbert Nobacon23 January 2014 at 17:32

    Which is all the more reason to vote UKIP at the next election.
    You might not like Nigel Farage's views on immigration controls and a withdrawal from Europe ( both of which I do ) but at least you know he's a beer and fag sort of bloke.

  8. For the Labour Party to have initiated a Parliamentary debate on the future of pubs when they have done so much to destroy them really is an act of contemptible hypocrisy.

    Still better than, for example, not initiating a Parliamentary debate on the future of pubs. Like they say, hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue.

  9. Surely in the US sense "liberalism" is generally used to mean a belief in correcting the perceived ills of society through an expansion of the scope of government in both the economic and personal spheres, and is thus very different from "classical liberalism".

    Try googling "American definition of liberalism".

  10. "in the US sense "liberalism" is generally used to mean a belief in correcting the perceived ills of society."

    I did google it, this is what it said:

    "Liberalism in the United States is a broad political philosophy centered on the unalienable rights of the individual"

    So presumably Russell Taylor doesn't believe that humans have inalienable rights as autonomous individuals.

    "Liberal" is normally used as an epithet in the US, used by hard line right wing christians who seek to impose their strict moral codes upon the nation. It is synonymous with having degenerate, permissive views.

  11. py: 'Liberal' is what Labour sympathisers would be called in the US. It's a clever contortion of language they have used over there for quite some time.

  12. Liberal is actually a perfectly accurate and well defined term in both countries. Its just that in the US it is the right wing evangelical christians shouting "bleeding heart liberal" at the centrists.

    Are they similar in political outlook to Labour sympathisers? Well its hard to tell what labour sympathisers now think, seeing as their party swung hard to the right in the mid 90s, but has now - allegedly - swung back to the more liberal centre ground again (we'll see when the manifesto comes out).

  13. There are still some blindfolded ,
    ear-muffed "working class" heroes who blame the Tory Recession for mass pub closures.
    Reminder to pinko diehards
    Nowhere in the 2005 Labour Manifesto was there a mention of a total smoking ban in pubs,NOWHERE.
    Ministers lied,MPs lied,the Media avoided the issue.Worse still MPs
    voted ,not on principle but due to pressure from tiny cliques.
    The total ban was ,and remains one of the most infamous ANTI WORKING CLASS LAWS in modern Europen history.As long as a total ban exists, Parliamentary Democracy cannot be trusted by the
    working class.
    Who is paying for the £Billions lost by the Exchequer?
    Guess who?
    The poor ,the unemployed,the elderly,the sick,the very ones the back stabbing Labour Party
    sobs crocodile tears for.
    As for those who groan"the ban is here for ever"
    You are the same turncoats who said (6 year olds working in the pits) "never change"

    Retired worker

  14. 13 comments in and no one thinks equating the smoking ban to the severity of the war in Iraq, where over 100,000 people from all sides and innocents lost their lives, is a little warped?

    I like beer, I sell beer, but Peter Oborne sounds like the last person I'd want to save a pub for.

  15. As Oborne says, it is the aspect of Labour's legacy that will have the most profound and lasting impact on British society.

  16. War in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, introduction of minimum wage, freedom of information act, Good Friday agreement and the cash for honours scandal? If you honestly believe that Labour's defining legacy is going to be the smoking ban then you're as delusional as Oborne is.

  17. I'm a big fan of pubs of all kinds, but even I have to agree with Der on this one. The smoking ban caused a few hundred pubs to close a few years earlier than they would otherwise have done.

    As of right now, I bet every pub that went to the wall in the year after the smoking ban would be shut now anyway.

    Compared to the many other actions of the Labour government both good and bad, this barely makes the top 10.

  18. As Peter O'Bore will no doubt say, the Conservative and Labour parties have far more in common with each other than with any real member of the public.

    The Tories don't like the lower orders drinking because they'd much rather them be productive worker bees earning tax money to fund the lifestyles of politicians, and profits to fund the lifestyles of capitalists.

    The Labour Party don't like the lower orders drinking because they have a bizarre idea of the ideal worker, engaged as she or he is with nonsensical "self-improvement" and busy-work in a vague hope of producing utopia.

    Either way, laws will be passed that make pubs close and alcohol consumption be reduced.

  19. On the list of why the last labour government was shite and labour governments in general are shite, the smoking ban & the closed pubs it caused is on there but you know, it's no where near the top. We could write a list. I doubt smoking in pubs is in the top ten.

    Funny that all the kippers will put gormless Ed in number 10.

  20. Gormless Ed, useless Dave, what's the difference?

  21. For me, around a couple of grand in tax, anon, yourself?

  22. apart from the usual suspects, most of the comments seemed to actually disagree with the piece.

    Cookie, don't hide your wallet yet. Ed isn't going to get in.

  23. py,
    About as many pubs closed in the first four of the smoking ban as did in the twenty years before the smoking ban. That is not even talking about the pubs that are now just little more than smoke-free restaurants for middle aged, middle income people to stuff their faces with food in.
    The smoking ban has been has clearly been a disaster for pubs and pub culture culture. i think the reason why people don't want to admit it is because admitting it begs the question of what to the solution to it is - and there is only way to undo the damage. The problem is that there are people that rather see any amount of pubs close rather than give people like me the human dignity of shelter, people would rather that people like me continue to be treated no better than a filthy fucking dog.


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