Thursday, July 31, 2008

Boris: what a difference a year makes...

Looking through my extensive archives for articles about booze, I found a post citing this article by Boris Johnson.
It is the British Department of Health, in Whitehall, that wants a new label on every bottle of wine and every other alcoholic beverage, with a load of baloney about the risks to unborn children (not very great, frankly), the need to drink “responsibly”, the websites of various “drink awareness” organisations, and a load of bunkum about the piffling number of “units” the Government thinks a man and a woman can drink “responsibly” every week.

The whole project has been personally invented and pushed by Caroline Flint, a junior health minister, and you may reasonably be asking yourself why.

Why now? For well over 45 centuries the human race has been squeezing grapes and fermenting the juice into anything between seven and 15 per cent alcohol, and so producing the ecstatic drink that has been as sacred to every pagan religion as it is to Christianity.

As a great French historian has pointed out, the vineyards of France are perhaps the single greatest cultural legacy of the Roman empire, and it is now more than two millennia since people in Britain first became aware of the intoxicating powers of wine.

In all that time, no government in history has yet thought the people so moronic that they needed to be told, on the bottle, that wine could go to your head; and Flint’s proposed act of desecration is all the more shameful and baffling when you consider - in your state of agreeable post-prandial rapture - that a bottle of wine is really a thing of quiet beauty.
...

Does she really imagine that her ghastly “message” will make a fluid ounce of difference to the total quantity of alcohol consumed by the British people? Will it remove a single splash of vomit from our pavements? Will it deter a single bladdered ladette from hoisting another one away?

Of course not.
...

I say fight, fight, fight. Fight against these insulting, ugly and otiose labels.

Oblige Flint to bring her plans to Parliament, so we can fight for common sense against the tide of infantilising elf and safety madness, and when we have won we can help her to drown her sorrows in the time-honoured British way - and our potations will be equally responsible, or irresponsible, whatever it says on the label.

Of course, one might be tempted to rewrite certain aspects of that article to reflect the changed times in which we live...
Does Boris really imagine that his authoritarian “ban” will make a fluid ounce of difference to the total quantity of alcohol consumed by the British people? Will it remove a single splash of vomit from our pavements? Will it deter a single bladdered ladette from hoisting another one away?
...

I say fight, fight, fight. Fight against this insulting, authoritarian and patronising ban.

Way to stick to your principles, Boris!

12 comments:

pagar said...

Well done for raising this again.

However I predict you'll get the same response from the same bloggers who misunderstand the concept of libertarianism and are prepared to support authoritarian legislation when it doesn't conflict with their personal prejudices.

I hope I'm proved wrong. Get it guys.

Andrew said...

Er, I'm pretty sure that the reasoning behind banning alcohol on public transport isn't to stop people drinking so much.

John B said...

What the fuck is it for, then?

Longrider said...

To stop them drinking on public transport, one presumes...

JuliaM said...

"To stop them drinking on public transport, one presumes..."

Correct.

And pretty much the only thing Boris could do, under the circumstances. I'm sure we'd all prefer that the BTP or LUL staff simply ejected the troublemakers and left the quiet drinkers alone, but we all know that's unlikely to happen as he doesn't set priorities for the BTP.

pagar said...

"And pretty much the only thing Boris could do"

But it wasn't the only thing he could do. He could have done nothing.

The fact that the people who are supposed to uphold the existing laws are disinclined to do their jobs properly does not make an argument for imposing additional authoritarian legislation.

Sadly, it is a familiar pattern that, when someone finds themselves in a position of power, they seem to enjoy exercising it. They are then acting against our individual freedoms and should be criticised for doing so.

JuliaM said...

"He could have done nothing. The fact that the people who are supposed to uphold the existing laws are disinclined to do their jobs properly does not make an argument for imposing additional authoritarian legislation."

Well, there's a sensible way forward.

Oh, wait, it isn't a way forward at all, is it? It's an apathetic 'shit happens, what can you do' attitude. That's not likely to win him many votes..

JuliaM said...

And there's also the teensy, tiny matter of it being a pledge during his lection campaign...

pagar said...

I am not concerned about votes or election pledges. The British electorate voted for for Tony Blair and some smug Bolywood actress.

Courting electoral popularity is not the point- when our elected leaders impose regulation that interferes with our freedom of action (when those actions do not impinge on someone elses freedom of action) they are passing bad law and showing themselves to be authoritarian arseholes.

DK's post exposes Boris as the hypocritical clown he is.

There's nothing further to debate.

JuliaM said...

"I am not concerned about votes or election pledges."

You're unlikely ever to be Mayor of London, then...

"The British electorate voted for for Tony Blair and some smug Bolywood actress."

? This doesn't make a lot of sense...

"..when our elected leaders impose regulation that interferes with our freedom of action (when those actions do not impinge on someone elses freedom of action) they are passing bad law and showing themselves to be authoritarian arseholes."

*sigh* No, they are doing the job we elect them to do.

And the actions of rowdy, out of control drinkers on the Tubes and busses does impinge on other people's 'freedom of action', hence why the ban was greeted with favour by most Londoners.

"There's nothing further to debate."

Sorry to disappoint you, but 'pagar has spoken!' isn't quite the debate crusher you might have supposed it to be...

Longrider said...

I am not concerned about votes or election pledges.

Not some relation of Gordon Brown?

The fact that the people who are supposed to uphold the existing laws are disinclined to do their jobs properly does not make an argument for imposing additional authoritarian legislation.


My experience with the BTP is not that they are disinclined to do their jobs, rather that there are not enough of them to be effective.

Oh, sorry, I didn't realise... This debate has been declared as over...

For what it's worth - I agree with DK regarding the ban.

pagar said...

Juliam

"You're unlikely ever to be Mayor of London, then..."

Not one of my ambitions.

"some smug Bolywood actress."

A reference to Big Brother which seems to interest much of the electorate more than politics.

"they are doing the job we elect them to do"

As a libertarian, I do not agree that the government has the right to impose unnecessary restrictions on freedom whether to do so is democratically popular or not. Because Boris had the alcohol ban in his manifesto and then won the election does not mean that to impose the ban is therefore a legitimate use of power.

As state authoritarianism increases, I am coming to the view that libertarianism and democracy are not compatible at all and perhaps we should have nothing to do with this vile and rotten political system that oppresses us for our own good. That's why I would not want to be Mayor of London- I don't want the power to interfere in how other people live their lives. Anyone who does should be viewed with the deepest suspicion.


Finally "There's nothing further to debate."

I was wrong.