Sunday, 19 April 2020

Shop your neighbour

The coronavirus lockdown has given encouragement to two of the less edifying aspects of the British character – the curtain-twitching love of informing on your neighbours, and the liking of the police for taking an over-zealous approach and making up the rules as they go along. Both of these tendencies were combined when no less than the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, Ian Hopkins, made a public statement that the Shakespeare pub in Farnworth, near Bolton, had been serving drinks during the lockdown, and would have its licence revoked.

However, egg on face was in order when, as the Manchester Evening News reports:

But council licensing officials have now confirmed they had found 'no evidence' it had broken the rules during a visit two days later.

In his radio interview, the chief constable said The Shakespeare in Farnworth would have its licence revoked for allegedly letting drinkers in through the back door.

However, when the Manchester Evening News contacted the owners of the pub, they denied any wrongdoing.

A spokesman for Hawthorn Leisure, which runs the pub, said at the time: “There is absolutely no truth to suggestions that The Shakespeare in Farnworth has been serving drinks during the lockdown.

“Hawthorn Leisure has been strictly adhering to Government guidance, and the pub has not been open since it shut its doors on Friday night.

"Furthermore, our manager and her husband are both self-isolating due to pre-existing health concerns.

I’m not denying that any pubs have been breaching the lockdown conditions, but most of these cases seem to have been false alarms. Some have been genuine mistakes arising from observing the licensees doing cleaning or repairs, or engaged in permitted trading activities such as providing takeaways. But others have undoubtedly been driven by malicious intent, with people working out a grievance against the pub in question. As reported here, the lockdown has provided a golden opportunity for people with a grudge to inflict police harassment on others , no questions asked.

And surely someone in such a senior position as a Chief Constable should make absolutely certain they are on firm ground before making public accusations of this kind against businesses. Somehow, though, I doubt whether a public apology will be forthcoming. This is only one of a long list of examples of police overreach during the lockdown, with their colleagues in Lancashire recently excelling themselves.

If we were ever to end up with something like the East German Stasi in this country, they would clearly have no problem recruiting officers – or informants.

Interestingly, the Shakespeare is a full entry on CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors, although from the description it sounds as though the original features have been rather garishly painted over, and it has a pretty down-market pub offer. I’ve driven past it a few times in the past, but never been tempted to venture inside.


  1. Professor Pie-Tin19 April 2020 at 15:59

    I'm normally a big supporter of the filth.They do a difficult job in challenging circumstances with often less than adequate resources.Plod on the ground are invariably sound people and amazingly patient when you think of the number of dickheads they have to deal with.
    Higher up the food chain is a different matter.Especially those sociologoy graduates with a couple of years pounding pavements before pulling a few strokes to climb up the greasy truncheon.
    The High Priestess of this mob is the Met's commander whose name encapsulates the very thing she's probably never seen causing a disturbance or making a nuisances of itself,your honour.
    Joining her officers for a right-on display of virtue signalling on Waterloo Bridge without observing social distancing caused even the equally lame Laondon Mayor to acccuse her of making a dick of herself.
    But that's really been my only complaint about this lockdown malarkey.It's a bit of a bugger but drowning in my own mucus is not an alternative I care to contemplate.
    The other main symptom of Covid-19 I've noticed is that every leading critic of Boris and his government's handling of this crisis in public and political life and the media - EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM - are fiercely opposed to Brexit.
    And none of them mentioned a word about it in early February.
    Any clown can sound authentic with the benefit of hindsight.

  2. Boozy Procrastinator19 April 2020 at 16:01

    It is getting quite difficult to not be taking black pills during this whole saga. What will be worse that then negative side will be the enforced happiness.

    A cult of literal happy clappers worshiping their new religion and hissing at those that don't join in.

    I await the excuses for food serving pubs to be opened well before the wet ones and the plod on actual physical foot patrols to enforce the new strata within society.

  3. When they actually realise the society that they yearn for they will be very disappointed. Examples include, Soviet Union, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, etc...)

  4. I think that a lot of the problem is that the government, exemplified by Gove, are making up the rules as they go along.
    It would be much better, if we had to have legislation, that the legislation were far more specific about what was allowed.
    Too may people are treating the legislation as a game where they justify obviously anti social and dangerous behaviour because the legislation permits it.

    1. Er, there was no "grey area" or interpretation in the case I was discussing. The Chief Constable accused the pub of something they had not been doing, and was proved to have been wrong.

    2. Police often accuse people of things that they have not done because there is reasonably evidence that they may have done so; even remanding them in custody until the judicial system establishes the truth.

      But the Accrington case is farcical: had the officer never heard of dash-cams?

    3. Some of the problem comes from the fairly wide disparity between the government guidelines and the actual emergency legislation. Senior police officers have been making the rules up for many years but that usually only affects their subordinates, until now, when their rule bending becomes public. That said, no lockdown complaints about my local force, Northumbria, who have been doing a cracking job with good humour.

    4. It's very difficult to write specific legislation when nobody really knows what effect each of the lockdown measures will have. This is a problem that has never been faced in living history and we are learning as we go along.

  5. When I see phone footage of police "abusing their powers" I wonder what occurred immediately before the recording. If somebody were to thump me off camera, and then turn the camera on just as I angrily hit them back, what would anyone think of the recorded evidence?

  6. Any historian will tell you what sustained the Stasi & Gestapo were the endless source of willing and enthusiastic law abiding citizens with scores to settle with neighbours they didn't like. Less hidden mics, more opening envelopes. As for the filth, they have always done a poor job of filtering out those that like authority and a uniform that little bit too much. They usually restrict their bullying to the low status communities that society is happy to ignore, but now they have a wider remit.

    Great time to be on beer twitter too for Covid Shaming. The number of beer geeks that see themselves as liberal progressives but reveal themselves as authoritarian reactionaries is top notch bantz. Get on it.

  7. The bantz is what i am missing most of all


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