Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Janet Street-Porter: contradictory crone

(nb. I am not the Devil's Kitchen)

It's a terrifying prospect, but we must consider the possibility that there is more than one Janet Street-Porter at large. How else can we explain the contradictory articles that appear under her byline every week in The Indepedent?

Street-Porter has swallowed the temperance movement's myths hook, line and sinker and is a result is a keen advocate of

Back in 2007, that something was education. ('Can't we drinkers just be left in peace?'):
The only way to stop people drinking to excess is via education and support at primary school.

Back then, Janet was keen to stress that the kids were alright. If there was a problem, it was to be found behind the net curtains of Middle England ('Don't blame the young: we're a nation of boozers'):
By the way, the biggest number of problem drinkers, according to recent surveys, aren't teenagers – who happen to be more visible and easier to pick on because they hang around with nothing to do but swig from tins – but the salaried classes, the middle aged, who sink a bottle of wine a head every night out there in suburbia.

That was all fine until Janet remembered that she was one of those salaried, middle-aged wine-drinkers, and she was damned if the government was going to tell her how to live her life ('I like a drink. Does that make me an alcoholic?'):
No day passes without a new piece of research about the amount we drink and a lot of it focuses on the cost to the NHS. We were recently told that the drinkers the Government is most concerned about aren't the young, but middle aged and middle class. You don't need to be Einstein to work out the largest social group in the country are middle class and middle aged, but we'll let that pass. The same group probably own the most pets, spends the most at garden centres, and eats the most breakfast cereal.

This government has decided to interfere in our lives to a completely unacceptable degree.

Was this libertarian, Big Government-hating Janet Street-Porter the same person who gave us, only four weeks earlier, her brilliant new solution to the alcohol 'epidemic'? ('Bring back ration books – for booze'):
Here's a radical thought. Why not re-introduce ration books for booze?

And yes, she was serious. It was also her solution to childhood obesity ('A return to the ration book is the answer to obesity'):
Bring back rationing. Don't talk to me about human rights.

Still, at least she doesn't agree with making alcohol more expensive. As she said in 2007 ('Can't we drinkers just be left in peace?'):
Taxing drink won't make any difference - punitive pricing hasn't deterred cigarette smokers.

But then she's a woman of many moods, our Jan. The column she wrote in February 2008 ('Don't blame the young: we're a nation of boozers') showed off her ability to contradict herself even within the same article:
You know there's a problem when Tesco – the retailer who sells booze cheaper than mineral water – finally puts its hands up and admits the blindingly obvious: that perhaps the price of alcohol could have something to do with binge drinking.

But three paragraphs later, the link between price and binge-drinking was no longer so 'blindingly obvious':
There is absolutely no evidence that making drink more expensive will have any effect on the number of people getting slaughtered night after night.

Except for alcopops, apparently. By the end of the year she was calling for alcopops to be made more expensive to, y'know, reduce the number of people getting 'slaughtered every night'.  
The government still doesn't tax alcopops as heavily as other countries, for example Germany and Australia, where they are regarded as unsuitable for the young.

And she was supporting arch-crank Sir Liam Donaldson in his mission to bring in minimum pricing:
In Scotland, plans have already been announced to introduce minimum prices for alcohol, so why not in England?

I happen to agree with Sir Liam. Drink doesn't cost enough, and as prices have tumbled, so our attitude to booze has changed.

When the Conservative party committed itself to taxing alcopops in January 2010, you might think Janet would approve, but that would be to underestimate the complexities of the woman:
In this phoney booze war politicians have plenty of policies, but they're toothless. The Tories want to levy a charge on late-night off-licences and bars and say they'll tax "problem" drinks such as alcopops, strong beers and ciders. Labour promises to ban promotions offering cheap booze and say pubs should offer free tap water. Talk about not facing up to the gruesome reality.

So what's the plan, Jan? Education? Nope. ('Only a price rise will stop Britain's booze culture').
Education has failed. Self-control is hopeless. The Lib Dems are right: minimum pricing and an advertising ban are logical. But very unlikely.

Janet's dilemma is that she hates corporations even more than she hates binge-drinking. So when Tesco supported minimum pricing last week, what was she to do? Hey, every gal's got the right to change her mind, hasn't she? Minimum pricing, doncha hate it?!?! ('Tesco – every little bit of brand promotion helps'):
Minimum pricing won't change behaviour – that requires education at primary-school level.

Could this be the same Janet Street-Porter who said education "has failed" and minimum pricing was "logical" only 5 months earlier? 

And she found another reason to oppose minimum pricing:
It will put [Tesco CEO] Sir Terry's smaller competitors out of business

Quite possibly, but the think-of-the-economy line had been used by the industry for some time, and Street-Porter has always treated it with distain. A year earlier, for example, she had written...
..the brewers and distillers are formidable lobbyists who always claim massive job losses if their product isn't available at rock-bottom prices.

In fact, now that Tesco has got involved, Janet's having second thoughts about the whole 'alcohol epidemic':
Let's consider a few facts. Is drinking on the increase? Not really, according to Nigel Hawkes of Straight Statistics. The number of men who say they drink more than eight units one day a week has actually gone down. Between 1998 and 2008, the number of men who drink more than 50 units over a week dropped by 2 per cent. In fact, the statistics are somewhat misleading because the way that units are computed was changed. Binge drinking among 16 to 24-year-old women peaked in 1998 at 42 per cent and had fallen to 35 per cent in 2006.

Indeed so. As my hoof-footed host and I have been saying for some time, there is no alcohol epidemic. The real problem is the behaviour of a minority, ie. people who are twats when they're sober who become even more twattish when drunk. None of the temperance movement's Mickey Mouse policies are going to sort this problem out. What we really need is a war on twats.

Still, better a sinner who repents and all that. If it takes Tesco supporting the temperance nuts for Street-Porter to change her mind about minimum pricing, so be it. 

(By the way, the Janet Street-Porter who writes endlessly about the evils of binge-drinking is not to be confused with the Janet Street-Porter who told the Observer
"Fleet Street was different in my day. I was at the Mail in the early 1970s. On Fridays we'd start drinking about 1pm at El Vinos, then the French House, lunch in Wheelers, to the Colony Room, then down to Jerry's, and then fall home completely trolleyed about nine. So I'd write my column in the morning."

Written with a thumping hang-over they may have been, but it's hard to imagine those columns being any more piss-poor than the ones she writes today.)


Henry Crun said...

The only explanation is that Janet Stweet-Pawta was pissed when she wrote each and every one of those articles.

Anonymous said...

Who on God's earth takes the blind bit of notice of gross non-entities
like StreetPorter. She's on a big trip scaring men away,hardly
surprising with her gums.
Silly little Madam.

Gentleman of Verona

Malcolm Stevas said...

Oh come on! She's in newspapers - space has to be filled with "stories". Who gives a toss, except the credulous? Especially, who gives a toss about the opinions of the ghastly Street-Porter woman?

Dick Puddlecote said...

Aaaah! So She's Glenda Slagg.

It all makes sense now.

Middle Seaxe said...

She used to drink in El Vino'sin the early 70's did she?

What year did they allow women in there I wonder, as my old man remembers all the bra burners turning up and having sit ins.

Anonymous said...

Too many teeth for my liking.

Peter Carter-Fuck said...

At least she's got her looks.

Roger Thornhill said...

Peter Carter-Fuck said...
At least she's got her looks.

We know, but who's were they?

neil craig said...

It is possible there is indeed more than one Janet Street Legal or at least more than one on her byeline. She would not be the first media "personality" to have their column written by whatever journalist is at a loose end that week.

DagenhamDave said...

yeah but
no but
yeah but
no but yeah

she's probably been fingered one too many times behind the bike shed