Tuesday, 23 February 2021

The Eternal Whipping Boy

I didn’t really see much point in blogging about yesterday’s announcement about the snail-like pace of reopening the country. It has all been said before. But I thought it would be worth drawing your attention to this brilliant blogpost by Scott Graham aka The Bar Biographer. Scott doesn’t blog often, but when he does he invariably hits the nail firmly on the head.

Amidst the mountains of speculation, one thing is pretty much agreed upon by all observers, pubs will be at the back of the queue for reopening. What is also widely acknowledged is that such a decision has no scientific basis. But that doesn’t matter to politicians, academics, journalists, social media commentators and all the other influencers, large and small. That the licensed trade and night-time economy occupy the lowest rung is more about worthiness than rates of transmission.
He also skewers the narrow-minded, Puritanical attitude of the Scottish government:
Pubs in Scotland will face an even less palatable menu, with Nicola Sturgeon set to look at the schedule set out by Boris Johnson and mirror most of it, particularly its sequencing, but add on five or six weeks for Scotland. That’s because the SNP has an unwritten motto, as do a chunk of the population, “never knowingly less righteous (i.e. authoritarian) than the next country”.
And his conclusion is spot –on. Yes, one day, we will get our pubs back in some form. But they will be hugely diminished from what they were before lockdowns.
Yes, eventually the pubs and social clubs will re-emerge in the UK, maybe even nightclubs and casinos. But the landscape will have changed dramatically, independent operators even more an endangered species, chains such as Wetherspoons ever more dominant. It didn’t have to be this way, but it is the inevitable outcome of the UK establishment once again casting the licensed trade as the whipping boy.


  1. Professor Pie-Tin24 February 2021 at 13:19

    Germany’s biggest-selling newspaper has praised Britain’s vaccine success and Boris Johnson’s plans to lift the lockdown, with a front-page headline saying: ‘Dear Brits, we envy you!’.

    The article in Bild said the UK’s ‘successful’ vaccine programme had allowed the PM to promise a brighter future while Germany is ‘stuck in lockdown’ and Angela Merkel’s government is languishing behind in handing out vaccine doses.


    This one never gets old …


    1. Meanwhile, in other news, that same Daily Mail says that the UK has the second strictest lockdown in Europe (after Ireland) and also has one of the worst death rates in the world. So I'm not quite sure what the Germans are so envious about.

    2. Curmudgeon the British covid death rate is to be taken with a pinch of salt. We seem to be counting all manner of unconnected deaths as covid, see this one for instance:


      Also we are told that there have been no deaths from flu this season. What? Have they wiped out flu? No, of course they haven't, covid IS the flu for this year.

      Don't trust the government, don't trust the news, don't trust the NHS.

    3. Andy, the cause of death, shown on the death certificate for my father, when he passed away on 6th January, was Covid-19, followed by Alzheimer's Dementia & Ischaemic Heart Disease.

      Dad was 89 when he passed away. He was very frail, and had shown a positive test result for Covid two days before he died. No-one really believes it was Covid that killed him, and the cause of his death was almost certainly the Alzheimer's and heart disease.

      It's expedient to describe Covid as the cause of death, even when there are obvious underlying causes.

    4. The Stafford Mudgie27 February 2021 at 11:52

      P P-T,
      If Germany's biggest-selling newspaper is anything like our Daily Mail it probably hasn't praised Britain’s 'success' at being fourth out of 152 countries in the deaths from coronavirus league with 1822 per million inhabitants.
      Only Belgium, Czechia and Slovenia have done worse.
      At 38th on the list with 'only' 834 deaths per million Angela's Germany appears to have been at least twice as successful as Boris's UK.
      Pubs closed for nearly a year might have made some sense if it had got us half way down that list with about 167 deaths per million, 9% of what we've suffered.

  2. Thanks for sharing Scott Graham’ excellent blog post, Mudge. The government’s treatment of the licensed sector, backed up by the control freaks at PHE – who have morphed into SAGE, is nothing short of scandalous. To regard going to the pub, or out for a meal as frivolous, shows just how out of touch they are with ordinary people.

    The fixation of Whitty, and the rest of his po-faced cohorts , in concentrating all efforts on controlling this virus, whilst ignoring the wider health implications of keeping people locked in their own homes, is creating enormous damage, particularly on the mental health front. There is also the huge economic cost of lockdown as well.

    It is small businesses, such as pub owners and licensees, who are bearing the brunt of these policies, which are continuing PHE’s anti-alcohol crusade, helped of course, by a press only too happy to wade in with headline grabbing stories about binge drinking and bad behaviour by pub goers.

    Years ago, the Tory party was always viewed as the “brewers’ friend.” Oh how times have changed!

    1. Professor Pie-Tin25 February 2021 at 13:06

      As always you're in the minority.
      Opinion polls show the public overwhelmingly back the progress and speed of the vaccine rollout and loosening of restrictions.
      Grumbling beer swillers do not a majroity make ...

    2. It's not a selfish concern for one's own interests, it's a desire not to completely destroy the economy and ruin businesses and lives.

      And YouGov could probably get a majority to say they were in favour of putting lockdown breakers into camps.

    3. Opinion polls? Of course, they're always so representative of reality.

    4. Professor Pie-Tin25 February 2021 at 13:51

      Probably more representative than some bloke on a pub internet forum ...

  3. Whilst hospitality businesses may not themselves significantly contribute towards the spread of an airborne virus the increased movement of people to such premises if they were open creates the opportunity for a greater spread of the virus. The aim is to reduce opportunities for human contact and this creates the scientific justification which supports the temporary closure of such businesses. The scheduled re opening of society is designed to steadily increase opportunities for human contact and assess how such increases affect the spread of the virus. The full re opening of schools will bring about a significant increase in contact and it is reasonable to assess the impact of this step before proceeding with the next steps. Taking into account the widespread public fear,which is probably not fully justified,progressing in this manner is a sensible step. I do not agree that the policy is motivated by a desire to introduce prohibition,if this was the case then retail alcohol sales would have been banned. I do believe that the policy should include the capacity to review dates by moving them forwards should the impact of the first step of re opening education be insignificant.

  4. Professor Pie-Tin25 February 2021 at 14:02

    Or to put another way, I want a pint just as much as the next person.
    But not as much as I don't want to catch Covid.
    So I'm quite happy to wait until the excellent vaccine programme runs its course and it's safe to skull pints again.
    I may be wrong but somehow I doubt it.A majority of people in the UK want the same.
    Lots of mental health problems ? You bet. But it's a global pandemic and being sat at home with furloughed money coming in produces a lot less angst than being in some third world country without a pot to piss in.

  5. Professor Pie-Tin25 February 2021 at 22:32

    Primed and ready.
    Flying in tomorrow for the first jab on Saturday.
    The trip to the aiport to avoid police road blocks is being planned with all the precision of the escape from Colditz only with Aer Lingus instead of a glider.
    Of course there'll be a line of Garda stormtroopers after check-in to make sure alles ist in ordnung but Taffy in C-Block has done sterling work with the false papers and fortunately the local plod are not the sharpest.
    If only there was a pint at the end of the journey.
    But I'll settle for a shot of AZ Best.

    1. Checks time of comment...


      Well-refreshed when we wrote that, were we?

  6. So let’s get this right “Professor.” You’re telling us to remain patient with regard to pub re-openings, and act as good compliant citizens, whilst ignoring the rising tide of bankruptcies and mental health issues.

    Then, in the next breath, you’re bragging about flagrantly breaking lockdown rules in two different countries (ROI & UK). Far be it for me to judge, but there’s a lot more than a vague hint of hypocrisy here.

    1. I interpreted that as a joke...

    2. You never know with the "Prof!"

    3. Professor Pie-Tin1 March 2021 at 12:16

      As well-refreshed as a newt your honour ...


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