Sunday, November 20, 2005

Workers, embrace your chains

Four days until the new licensing laws kick in. Rod Liddle identifies the root of the hysteria in the media:
The assumption seems to be this: it’s only fair that we civilised folk should be allowed to sit in an agreeable bar sipping a chilled sancerre or five whenever we like, but what on earth should we do with those ghastly oiks who clamber from huge vats of Carlsberg to cause mayhem in our town centres, beat each other up and later shag in the doorway of Dolcis? Can’t we stop them drinking all the time and let us quietly get on with it?
And right on cue, Tristram Hunt pops up in the Observer to tell us that the working classes must be protected from booze, gambling and even the opportunity to work on Sundays:
despite its killjoy reputation, Puritanism is about more than just banning earthly pleasures. Certainly, the Labour party pioneers hoped to discipline the feckless working classes and make politics their pastime. But they were also concerned with the exploitation of those employed by drinking, gambling and entertainment businesses. Restrictions on Sunday trading and opening hours were about protecting the workers as much as abolishing fun.
To think that the proles might be given the opportunity to make these decisions for themselves...

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