Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Pubs Are Safe In Their Hands ... Hey, Don't Laugh!

A few MPs yesterday conducted a hot air emitting session in Westminster Hall on the subject of Labour's ongoing pub closure programme.

With a couple of notable exceptions it was customary fare, though I'm surprised the majority of speakers were able to remain focussed on the discussion with that heroically proportioned pachyderm rampaging around the room.

There were a few snippets that I personally found interesting, though.

Face/palm moment of the whole debate, for example, must surely be this contribution from Bournemouth East Tory, and former Blues Brother, Jake Tobias Ellwood.

Certainly the issue of preloading needs to be addressed; my hon. Friend Anne Main made that point. It is a disgrace that when Labour came to power the price of beer in a pub was twice that of beer in the supermarket but now the price of beer in a pub is seven times that of beer in the supermarket. Is it any wonder that people are loading up on alcohol before going to the pub, or buying alcohol in the supermarket and avoiding the pub? That issue needs to be addressed.
Something must be going dramatically awry with pub pricing, then, considering that ONS statistics have shown supermarket alcohol prices to have risen over and above inflation in the past 30 years.

Between 1980 and 2008, the price of alcohol increased by 283.3%. After considering inflation (at 21.3%), alcohol prices increased by 19.3% over the period
However, armed with figures showing that the differential isn't really the fault of supermarkets, Ellwood revealed that the Tories have a cunning plan.

We will place a cap on the price of loss leaders in supermarkets and I hope that that will work.
Good grief.

Labour's Gerry Sutcliffe then revealed that he could be related to Lieutenant George in Blackadder Goes Forth.

To return to the point that this is a general election issue, I am highly in favour of that. It is right that issues close to our communities should be discussed in public, especially at general election time.
We're also highly in favour of Labour's assault on pubs being an election issue, Gerry. You're going 'over the top' and those whom you decided were less than human are manning the machine guns. Tally Ho!

And, as if to remind us that MPs aren't all stuffed shirts, Gerry rounded the ineffectual pow-wow off with a generous slice of side-splitting humour.

The smoking ban has been mentioned. Do hon. Members forget that the overwhelming majority of Members of this House voted for the smoking ban? I understand that there have been issues with its implementation, but we have considered best practice to ensure that the ban has been applied so as to meet policy objectives, as well as to find ways of supporting those who want to smoke.
Here's that 'support' in full.

Outside smoking shelters in the UK are forbidden by law to be more than 50 percent enclosed. As the campaigning group Freedom2Choose has pointed out: a farmer who keeps pigs is obliged by law to provide them with 95 percent shelter. So the 12 million or more tax-paying British citizens who smoke are officially, legally, worse than pigs.
Still, at least MPs are taking the issue of pub closures very seriously.

So seriously, in fact, that the the newly-appointed Minister for pubs stayed well away in case he became too agitated in his zeal to solve the problem, presumably. Or, as the guy in the natty black suit and trilby pointed out.

He says that he has a few ideas in his locker; today would have been the ideal day to open that locker and let us see what is actually going on. It is a little bit like someone realising that their glasses are in their pocket at the very end of their driving test; it is a bit late to put things into focus and it is certainly a bit late to impress anyone.
When you're on a mission from God, it's always about glasses and driving, isn't it?


Lawson said...

Dick, you really have made my day with that! Brilliant post.

Anonymous said...

Did they ask the Chair and Chairpersons from ASH and Alchohol Concern for permission to speak first ?

Junican said...


What we have to realise is that all this hot air issued forth by various politicians is precisely that – hot air.

The REAL problem for pubs is that the owners (of the premises or the business or both) are PROHIBITTED from offering the services that they might wish to offer. Eg, smoking areas. That is the real problem. In this respect, the fact that we smokers, as individuals, are annoyed about not being allowed to smoke in pubs is not the important thing.

In the same way, the cost of ‘a pint’ in the pub is not really comparable to the cost of ‘a pint’ when bought in a supermarket. The reason is that pubs have huge overheads, and, if you wish to enjoy the facilities of your local pub, you have to accept that the cost of ‘a pint’ must be higher than it is from the supermarket. That is a fact.

I find it incomprehensible that politicians can spout the nonsense that they do. It can only be that they have not really thought beforehand about what they are going to say – or that they are simply stupid.

I do not really think that they are stupid. The probability is that they just think of some sort of ‘extended sound bite’ which fits the bill at the time. Unfortunately, this same thought process seems to be the way in which they approach all matters that come before them in the House of Commons. Is it, therefore, any wonder that this quango NICE is emboldened to try to bend the school curriculum to their way of thinking – that teaching about smoking is more important than teaching about maths, for example. (I say this in the sense that there are only so many hours in the day for teaching, and whether these hours should be spent teaching maths or teaching ephemeral smoking theories as though they were facts – or ‘climate change’ or ‘sex’).

My daughter has recently finished her university course and is now teaching science (among other things). She tells me that the only real problem that she has in teaching the children science appropriate for their age (plant roots, volumes of liquids, heat and its conservation, etc) is that, in some classes, a FEW children are totally undisciplined, and that those few spoil it for the rest. The important thing (she tells me) is that, in some classes, there are simply TOO MANY badly behaved kids. In other words, that there is a ‘tipping point’ at which chaos ensues. And so we see something that politicians cannot cope with in their minds – the difference between POSSIBLE and PROBABLE.

It is POSSIBLE that passive smoking may make someone ill, but is it PROBABLE?

The same thought occurs as regards these ‘full body scanners’ in airports. Just because some remote airport in Nigeria failed to spot that this passenger had A SIRINGE in his hand luggage (along with explosive material in his underpants), we all have to ‘expose our nakedness’. The idea bothers me a little, but not a lot if it is necessary for our general safety. But, if I was a muslim woman, it would bother me enormously – as it should Christian women. I could reasonably see myself, if I was a devoted Christian or Muslim women saying, “Erm………No. No one is going to see me naked, remote or not.” The potential for agro is enormous. But why should these devices be introduced? The answer is: that it is remotely POSSIBLE that a person might……..” This is precisely what the terrorists want. They must be laughing their socks off.

Letters From A Tory said...

Don't get me started on the Conservatives' plans for supermarket beer. Talk about dealing with the symptoms and not the problems.


Anonymous said...

I think the bottom line here is that pubs cater mainly for the white working class, a minority group despised by New Labour and feared by the Tories. Furthermore, our Westminster masters certainly don't want large numbers of the great unwashed freely associating and discussing the issues of the day. It makes far more sense to make people stay at home so that the brightest can have their opinions moulded by the BBC, and the rest can be lobotomised by the other media channels.

Anonymous said...

Pubs were the moot for the white working class.
Thats why they are trying to destroy them.
It has to be so simply because the smoking ban has done such a good job of wrecking the late great british pub.
They dont want people going down pubs and smoking ,they want to sit in their boring little wine bars and gloat at the smokers standing out in the cold.
The smoking ban was a viscious spitefull act of class hatred.

Furor Teutonicus said...

Junican said...
you have to accept that the cost of ‘a pint’ must be higher than it is from the supermarket. That is a fact.

I don't know what the price difference there is, but I suspect similar to here, where;

Pub beer = €2,50 to €3 >< for 0,4 Liter. Supermerket = 2,5 to 3 LITERS for the same price, and for every half Liter bottle, you take back, you get 8 cents back from that. I do not drink spirits in pubs, but the price of a shot is about €3. You can get a full bloody Liter bottle in the supermarket for between €10 and €15.

Then you can take it home, select your own company, smoke as much of, and WHAT you bloody LIKE, not have to shout to make yourself heard above the idiot titilaters (Fruit machines... which are becoming more and more like bastarding duke boxes these days, but that is ANOTHER discussion), the toilet floor is not full of other peoples, or even your OWN piss, you are not forced to have the OTHER idiot titilater (Sport) blaring at you from the T.V.

And pub owners turn around and ask "where have all the customers gone?" (???)

No matter WHAT "overheads" the have, they can NEVER justify trhe actual price differences we see between the two.

Furor Teutonicus said...

Now to get post notification working.

Anonymous said...

Public health minister describes ban as "tremendous success" in health committee debate

The smoking ban has not caused pubs to close, according to public health minister Gillian Merron MP.

Despite figures showing around 40 pubs a week are currently closing Merron said the ban was not a factor in this.

She was speaking today at a meeting of the health committee in Westminster as it looked at ways the government is tackling health issues.

Merron said: “The pub trade does have challenges and I am aware of that but it isn’t the case that the ban had led to pub closures.”

Dubious Derek

Anonymous said...

Gillian Merron is a liar.

I know for a fact that one of her Lincoln constituants, the landlady of a community pub, spoke to Merron at one of her surgeries. At the end of the session, during which the landlady had spelled out in detail the effect of the ban on her trade (an immediate post-ban drop of 40%), both she and the Moron were in tears.

The landlady was subsequently forced out of business.


Dick Puddlecote said...

Anon @ 12:43 - Do you know how to contact the landlady you mentioned?

Please e-mail me if you do.