Binge drinking hysteria goes flat

24 Hour Drinking: Remember these front pages from last year?

‘Violence down despite drink law’
Daily Mail, February 2006

After all the hype and campaigning, it turns out that the hysteria whipped up over licensing reform had no more substance than a bottle of the American version of Budweiser. The apocalyptic vision of our pubs opening for 24 hours a day, filled with drunken violent scum never had any real credibility and now it turns out violent crime’s fallen a whopping eleven per cent. Hoorah!

That should be of no surprise to anyone who likes a drink or has a smidgen of experience of Britain’s drinking culture. While it would be silly to pretend that problem drinkers don’t exist, the weekend bingers do tend to be of an age where they simply can’t afford to drink all day. Many of the kiddies drink at home first, arriving in town already drunk. And you’ll be hard pushed to find a pub that actually opens 24 hours (around a third planned to open longer when the new law came in). The change simply means publicans can manage their businesses as they see fit, opening when there is a demand and closing when isn’t.

One pub chain claims longer opening has been bad for business. They blame extra security demanded by the hysterics. And some clubs may suffer as people aren’t kicked out of the pub and into their arms at 11pm, but that’s tough. Nobody’s claiming any significant boost in profits.

As the hysteria dies down, so will the extra policing, but as the Mail points out: recorded crime was expected to rise.

So vicious was the Daily Mail’s anti-pub crusade, publicans boycotted the rag. Yet it’s no accident that the Daily Mail got it so wrong. The truth is that the newspaper, like the Conservative Party it thinks it supports by putting Britain down, is out of touch. It has no real concept of what makes people tick and peddles a political agenda of no relevance to anyone.

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