Following on from the news that the hunting ban legislation is rapidly unravelling, comes more righteous wriggling to avoid admitting that a blanket smoking ban (rather than one which was inclusive to all pub-goers not just some) was a bit of a daft idea.
Exemptions were made for the G20 delegates (see pic) with merely misdirection and obfuscation proffered to scotch the badly-kept secret, rather than a cast-iron denial. I think we know what that means in Labourspeak by now, don't we?
We now see the same conniving with regard the Cutting Edge pub in Barnsley, who identified the loophole of opening a research centre to get round the ban, thereby allowing their customers to enjoy what they have always enjoyed, without harming the bar staff with that vicious (made-up) second hand smoke threat. Remember that? Saving bar staff. The entire reason for the ban? That's ancient history now, it seems.
The council talked big about enforcing the terms of the Health Act, but they didn't need to. The brewery stepped in first.
A landlady's bid to save her business by creating a "smoking research room" has been abandoned after she faced losing the pub.
She told BBC News: "Punch told me I was not allowed to use the room for anything other than the sale of alcohol and that I must stop immediately otherwise face losing my job."
Hmmm. Not allowed to use the room for anything other than the sale of alcohol. How does that work then? Considering the landlady had managed to increase her custom by more than 300% with her initiative, one could argue that she was using the room for precisely that purpose. To sell more alcohol. If she had isolated her tap room for the sole use of cribbage or dominoes players, would Punch have threatened to turf her out for that too?
Something stinks here, and it isn't smoke. There may be a clue in the experience of a second pub, who had followed her lead. They were told to cease by 4pm today or risk sanctions. Again, not from the local council who are tasked with enforcing the law, but by their brewery.
Barnsley council's Simon Frow said, in front of the BBC's cameras, that they were going to see the Cutting Edge's landlady yesterday morning, yet there hasn't been news of an impending fine or prosecution. Could it be that it wasn't that easy? Perhaps it was better to instead call the Pubco and hint at problems with future licencing if they didn't play ball.
Since licencing now comes under the auspices of the local authority, they can dictate whatever they choose to pub owners and Pubcos, as I have mentioned before.
To be completely fair to Islington, they do state that these conditions are to be 'volunteered', but the Islington pub owner who highlighted this was made very aware that his licence would be in jeopardy if he were to object.
It would explain why the pathetic Punch would be so willing to close down an operation which was contributing to their business when they are desperately seeking to reduce debt.
The cash crisis at Punch Taverns has prompted Britain’s biggest pub company to consider selling some of its most prized houses as it seeks to raise funds to whittle down its £4.5 billion debt pile.
It also makes a mockery of their response to this week's report by parliament's Business and Enterprise Committee which savaged their way of doing business.
Britain’s largest pub companies Enterprise Inns and Punch Taverns have hit back at claims they operate business models leading to the “downright bullying” of tenants.
No bullying going on at all, is there Punch?
A spokeswoman for Punch Taverns said: "Punch has condemned the decision of our licensee to undertake this."
She added that Ms Fenton could be asked to leave the pub if she continued to breach her agreement.
The upshot of this is that the loophole still hasn't been tested against the terms of the Health Act. Just as the G20 arrangements weren't denied, so the research centre idea is still 'live'. It was just too inconvenient for the local authority to go through the tedious process of the justice system.
Both examples, though, completely destroy the flimsy basis of the law, which, to remind you, was the protection of bar workers and nothing else. Workers at the G20 conference were put 'at risk' but it was OK. No workers were put 'at risk' at the Cutting Edge, but it was not OK.
The law has nothing to do with health, but everything to do with bigotry and righteous control (just as the mooted bans on smoking in one's own home do). When business owners and customers are in agreement, and no harm is being inflicted on others. When profits are being increased for the holding company, but it is still squashed by the righteous jackboot, one must wonder which kind of societal freedom, if any, our elected representatives subscribe to.