The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The End of Bar Time

If we have a recurring theme here at the EC, it is that bar time is stupid. It creates a situation in which thousands of drunk people all hit the roads simultaneously, and it provides a goal to shoot for when drinking.

Tonight, England will start allowing some establishments to stay open 24 hours. England has a notoriously badly behaved drinking culture, and I will be very interested to see how this policy works out. The government is instituting a crackdown on alcohol related crime with the new licenses going into effect:

Licensing Minister James Purnell said the new laws would be coupled with the "toughest ever crackdown on alcohol fuelled violence".

A rise in the number of arrests could be a measure of the success of powers in the Licensing Act, he said.

Mr Purnell told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We are not saying that crime itself will go up."

"What we are saying is that we are giving the police more powers and we do expect there to be more prosecutions."

He then added:

"It is absolutely clear that the current system has not worked," said the minister.

"Let's not penalise the majority of responsible drinkers because of the crimes of a minority.

"There should be a very clear principle here - that if people are not causing harm to others, government should get out of their personal lives."

Amen. How did this guy get in charge of licensing? And can we get him over here?

There are, as always, naysayers:

Shadow culture secretary Theresa May said the logic of the government's plans was "absurd".

She told BBC News: "The government has got it the wrong way round.

"They should have been doing something about binge drinking before looking at extending the licensing hours."

First of all, government's ability to do anything about binge drinking is fairly limited. Secondly I'm willing to bet that the alcohol-related crime rate goes down in England in short order. And finally, what the heck is a "shadow culture secretary?"

Kudos to England. This is a step in the right direction.


  • "And finally, what the heck is a "shadow culture secretary?""

    In British Parliament the majority party fills the cabinet. Opposite the cabinet, the minority party has a shadow cabinet. That way, when the minority becomes the majority, there is a smoother transition.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 10:49 AM  

  • You said you puked on two pairs of shoes on your 28th birthday...

    Just curious: was the second pair from someone in your party, or just an innocent bystander?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:09 AM  

  • "You said you puked on two pairs of shoes on your 28th birthday...

    Just curious: was the second pair from someone in your party, or just an innocent bystander?"

    And also, how many hours before the government instituted bartime was it? At least one, right?

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 11:16 AM  

  • This is great news for me because I'm going to be in England on the last weekend of the NFL season. I may need to go to a bar to see some games, and I want to make sure they're open late enough that I can watch the Sunday night game (which I think starts at 1:30 a.m. there) if it has playoff implications.

    But, to the point of the post, obviously, it's silly to put restrictions on these things. If you ask your city councilman why the bars in your neighborhood close at the time they do, I'm sure he'll tell you something along the lines of, "it wouldn't be fair to the residents of the neighborhood to have loud people coming out of bars at all hours." That's just dumb on so many levels. If people are overly loud when coming out of bars, give those people noise citations. Don't penalize the people who just like to spend a quiet evening out and are well behaved afterwards.

    By Blogger MDS, at 11:31 AM  

  • The other pair of shoes belongs to my wife, and it was at least 1 hour before bar time.

    MDS, I was about to list all of the ways in which that explanation is stupid, and you're right, it is dumb on too many levels to count.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 12:09 PM  

  • Does that mean you'll also be in England for New Year's Eve? Now that should be a good time. Late bars, American football, English beer, on December 31st? That's beautiful.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 12:58 PM  

  • Yep, I'll be there for New Year's. Should be a lot of fun, although I've heard it's really hard to find American college football on TV there, so I'll probably see very few bowl games. But, you know, as I watch the bowls I spend half the time thinking about how stupid the college football bowl system is, so that's OK.

    By Blogger MDS, at 8:16 PM  

  • It seems the battle has been joined Noonan brothers. We will finally see if bartime is good or bad.

    By Anonymous Phil, at 4:46 PM  

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