Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Not A Good Start

the poster stating that drinking alcohol on public transport is banned as of 1st JunePlans to ban the drinking of alcohol on London's transport system have been unveiled by new mayor Boris Johnson. Reports the BBC.

Sorry, I just don’t buy it. It is not "Drinking" on public transport that is the problem. It is unruly "Drunks" on public transport that is a problem, and by and large they got drunk somewhere else, like a Pub [we now have 24hour licensing thanks to NuLab] or 24hour supermarkets and off-licences [thanks to Nulab]. They are merely trying to get home.

Many is the time I have tip-toed my way along the Liverpool Street station platform between the Nouveau Red pancakes left behind by overpaid yuppies who cannot hold their drink.

This is a typical piece of NuLab spin, that has completely missed the root of the problem, and smacks of - let’s just make it appear that we are "doing something", the real problem is just too difficult for us to solve.

And by of all people Boris. I despair!


  1. It was actually in Boris' manifesto you know! And cleaning up has to start somewhere - it isn't in the remit of the London Mayor to stop 24 hour licensing, but making it more difficult for drunken yobs (of all classes) to travel is a start.

  2. Correct me if I am wrong, but I seem to remember that this proposal was a manifesto commitment. Did you want a Redbridge-style commitment - "a cleaner, greener borough" - one that sounds good but is not put into practice? The drunkenness of which you complain is a matter of police enforcement - as will be the banning of drink on public transport. Sorry to disagree with you, but I support the policy, and would support the police rounding up the drunks before they board the transport.

  3. How about a radical new approach and the introduction of rationing books for booze; non-transferable of course.

  4. Judith and Morris,

    This particular initiative does not "make it more difficult for drunken yobs to travel" if they are already "drunk".

    The policy merely bans “drinking” whilst on public transport. Rounding up the “drunks” before they board the transport is a different matter and is something that ought to be done anyway.

    Then we have the problem of what is “drunk”? The trouble is that the effects of alcohol makes some people violent or yobbish, but for others it merely makes them quite amenable and tame. But it is only those that cause trouble that get the headlines.

    Alcohol tends to enhance the disposition of the consumer. Why should those who enjoy alcohol, but don’t cause trouble be penalised just because others do?

  5. I see no difference between the first paragraph on your post of 22.04 and the final sentence of mine of 21.27. The purpose of the policy appears to me to be to reduce significantly the sense of intimidation caused by those swilling booze on public transport - just as it does on the streets, on stations, and at bus stops.

  6. I do believe I read 'NuLab Spin' in your comments referring to this very recent regulation. Has it escaped your notice that the London Mayor is now a fully fledged Tory/Conservative?

    It is a fact that 'Drunk and Disorderly' is already a well-established offence in law as Mr. Hickey says, which of course is an infringement actionable by any police force. This new local regulation merely gives the police another string to their bow. Let's just hope there's enough of 'em to enforce it.

  7. There are pros and cons here. The sight of people sitting on the tube knocking back cans of beer or bottles of wine is hardly civilised and in a day and age when alcohol-related violence is one of the prime categories of violence in our green and pleasant land it hardly inspires confidence on the majority of other travellers. There's nothing wrong with restraint.

    On the other hand though I do agree with the sentiments of the post. These catch-all laws that penalise the majority (and yet will be ignored by some of the people - the minority - they're aimed at) are the least imaginative ways of dealing with problems. A society that targets its entire population in order to control the behaviour of a few is one that has lost sight of the basic premises of liberty.

    Fine the drunk and disorderly (not the merely drunk who are a bigger danger to themselves than to you and me) first time, fine them bigger the second and imprison them the third time (once you've built the jails, of course).

    Leave the rest of us alone.

  8. But I see you've started a new one. It's now on my RSS feed.

  9. "Why should those who enjoy alcohol but don't cause trouble be penalised?"

    Why should those who drink moderately and are in control of themselves be stopped from driving?

    Why should those who smoke in a reserved room in a pub or restaurant be stopped?

    Why should those who can drive safely at 90mph on motorways be penalised?

    Why should those who smoke narcotics in their own homes be banned?

    Big philosophical questions.

    Small practical question: decades ago, when I commuted from Redbridge to the West End for work, NO-ONE ate or drunk (even water) on the Underground. Somehow, we survived. In fact, in the 50's, it was considered frightfully bad manners to eat in the street and certainly was not allowed whilst you were in school uniform! So why on earth is it necessary to drink alcohol on a journey - seems to me that anyone who can't wait till their destination already has a problem, and it is one I don't care to be forced to share.

  10. That's very kind of you - thank you. Is this Weggis I'm talking to?

  11. Judith,
    Back in the 50s we didn't have fast food and takeaways. We ate at mealtimes.

    In all the years I have used London Transport I can honestly say that the times I have seen someone drinking alcohol are just a handful. Usually a vagrant type with a "tinnie" who was not causing any harm. Neither was the retired Major type taking a nip from his hip flask.

    I have though seen lots of rowdy Louts or Yobs, of both sexes, sometimes tanked up from a previous engagement, but not always. And no alcohol in sight.

  12. Gants Hill Birdwatcher3:15 pm, May 08, 2008

    I've been using public transport to go to work for about 15 years now. Have I noticed an increase in people holding beer cans? No. People are already drunk when they get on the tube. Hardly ever do I see people holding beer or bottles of alcohol in their hands. Therefore, I don't know how the Mayor is going to enforce this one. A lot of the people who are drunk are office workers. They stop for a quick one after work and some end up staying till about 9 - 11.30 pm. By then they have had plenty to drink. Work places are always having leaving drinks, new joiner drinks, it's sunny today let's go out and drink after work, birthday drinks, celebrate new wins drinks, I had a baby drinks, I'm going on maternity drinks, etc. Some of us don't like to drink until we're unconscious, but work culture makes us feel as if we are the boring ones. There's always an office working leering at you through dilated pupils saying 'go on, one more won't hurt!'

    I beleive it is in the work culture. Office events always involve alcohol. Let's see Boris fix this one! He's barking up the wrong tree.

  13. Now that B21 cannot comment on my intake of Guinness at the pub since I have been successfully deterred, can I beg whoever is in power, to stop people eating stinking food on public transport?
    Not only stinking but not pleasant to witness either!

  14. Gary - surely the "catch all laws" that appear to displease you are the basis of all our statute law? The vast majority of people would never be guilty of things that are proscribed by the criminal law. The objective of such laws, which catch only a minority, is the protection of the innocent majority. Without a framework of law - even "catch all" - anarchy would prevail.

  15. Mr Hickey,

    You kind of enforce my point. The vast majority of people will indeed not be guilty of things that are proscribed by the criminal law. Laws against murder, rape, robbery etc do not affect me in the slightest.

    But criminalising something unsightly (like drinking in public) might affect me if I were prone to do it - and this despite that I am rather loveable when drunk and so definitely not the kind of person these sweeping rules were meant to affect.

    Another simple example of my point is this idea that we slap a large additional tax on alcohol sales to deter lager louts. But for every lout hurt by this tax there are 20 people like me who also get clobbered.

    Target the criminals only. And leave the rest of us alone.

  16. Gary

    I'd suggest extra tax is put on booze because it's an easy target for a spendthrift chancellor and because the medical profession are obssessing about binge drinking.

    You might be lovable when you've had a drop, but for women travelling on their own at night, coming into contact with those who are supping from their tinnies and then throwing up (and that's not apocryphal), it's not so lovable.

    I go back to my original point, or one of them, why is there so pressing a need to consume alcohol on a tube train? Maybe society would be a little more attractive if it were a little more restrained? if public spaces were not treated like private ones?

    You and I don't drop litter in the street, but there are laws against such behaviour, difficult though they may be to enforce.

  17. Without a specific legal provision there is no criminal.

  18. Judith said:

    “why is there so pressing a need to consume alcohol on a tube train?”

    That’s the whole point of the original post. There isn’t, and from my perspective hardly anybody does. So what’s the point of banning something that hardly ever happens, and when it does is usually quite benign. It is a typical piece of political cosmetics. If we cannot enforce the laws that we have on loutish behaviour on public transport [drunken or not] then that is a problem that this piece of Mickey Mouse legislation is not going to solve.

    Today I was in the office of AFASIC in Bowling Green Lane, Clerkenwell. I was dragged out [kicking and screaming] at 4:30pm and then into the Betsey Trotwood. A Shepperd Neame pub where I had two pints of Spitfire. Walking from there to Farringdon tube station every pub and bar had a crowd spilling not just onto the pavement but into the road. The vast majority of these people will not cause a problem on the way home. Some may, later tonight, but I doubt they will have a tinnie in their hand.

  19. It is just spin to catch the headlines. It can't be implemented on the trains due to the distance ones having food and drink carts. When I come home later in the evening after some post work drinks, the tube rarely has people drinking cans of lager or cider. People may by tipsy or drunk, but they arrived at this condition prior to getting on! And the rare one who is loud is harmless. If I saw a person drinking a can of lager [either on public transport or in the street], unless they are extremely aggressive (rare) I'm not gonna be scared. What would the previous generation who fought in the war think of how lilly livered we have become!! I know Boris rarely uses public transport, but he must realise this is not a big problem. It is similar to the government increasing tax on alcohol, it does little to tackle the route cause of underage drinking. It merely penalises the average Brit who enjoys a drink in private or at the pub.