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.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.
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.
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.