Opinion: A Toast To Protest

Boris Johnson’s first act as Mayor of London was to ban the consumption of alcohol, and the carrying of open receptacles of it, on public transport. I have already outlined the case against in full over at my own blog, but to recap briefly…

Boris’ ban is essentially petty authoritarianism. Considering the wealth of existing legislation that criminalizes anything that infringes the rights of others on public transport, all this measure will do is criminalize those who keep themselves to themselves but wish, for whatever reason (and I can think of plenty), to drink on public transport. Boris says the ban will cut down on so-called ‘minor crime’, when it seems to me it will do quite the reverse, criminalizing otherwise law-abiding citizens.

I urge you to join me in protesting against this illiberal ban by donning your evening-wear, breaking out the liqueurs, and exercising your right to drink on the tube one last time this Saturday. On this Sunday, 1st June, the carriage turns back into a pumpkin as the ban comes into force. Therefore, the drinking will go on until midnight. There are a number of different events going on, most organised on Facebook; it looks like turnout could be anywhere between 5,000-10,000 combined, from all the different events.

The main ones can be found here, here, here, here, and here. The official website is here. Sunny Hundal of Liberal Conspiracy is also organising something, so you could always join him. Alternatively, you could follow these paragons of harmless eccentricity, and have a dinner party on the tube.

Most of the events kick off at Liverpool Street Station, so there’s likely to be a significant police presence there. If you want to avoid it, I’d recommend getting on at a later stop on the Circle Line such as Tower Hill or Monument.

As the third party, Lib Dems so often find ourselves opposing policies that we know, whether we like it or not, are going to come into force. The public feels that same sense of helplessness and inevitability, I’m sure, and protests are an important way for the public to both vent and demonstrate their dislike of certain government policies.

Yet there is a frequent misconception that protests only comes in three forms – violent riots, self-discrediting publicity stunts and tired old marches and rallies; none of these are productive, and the first two are arguably counterproductive. That does not mean to say, however, that protests have to be one of these. Indeed, it’s imperative that we find new forms of protest, in my view.

Facebook and other social networking sites offer the ability to co-ordinate massive protests with ease and speed never before achieved; we should utilize this. However, we should also look at what people want from protests now – in an age of Live 8, Live Earth and so forth, it’s clear that the public are keen to protest but want to enjoy themselves whilst doing so. If protesting is going to get back in vogue, we need to develop forms of protest that are fun to be a part of, and – more importantly – look fun too.

I’m sure plenty of people reading this will know how fun good marches can be – the people you meet, the rousing speeches, etc.; unfortunately, they don’t necessarily appear fun to the outside world. Having a dinner party on the tube, however, definitely looks like good fun. Additionally, it’s acts of defiant, harmless fun that constitute the most powerful challenge to a government. Serious protests can be met with stern rebuttal; but how do you, as a government minister, wrestle the moral high ground from six people enjoying roast chicken and red wine around a fold-up table on the Jubilee line?

Satirists have always understood that mockery can be more powerful than serious criticism – Vince Cable’s now-legendary ‘Stalin to Mr Bean’ joke proved that definitively for me. We should take notice of this, and make protests as humorous and enjoyable as possible; therein lies the way to bring protesting back in fashion and to get the public out demonstrating in force once more.

* Leo Watkins blogs at Hunting for Witches.

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116 Comments

  • Norman Scott 30th May '08 - 11:21am

    Hmmm, I’m split on this. On the freedom, responsibility, enforcement, existing laws point yes you’re absolutely right. Is this a token guesture to send a signal, yes it probably is.

    In that regard though is it actually impinging anyone’s liberty in any way that’s very signficant. I can’t even bring myself to describe the ban as creating modest inconvenience, dinner parties on the tube are not a common occurence other than as a similar piece of guesture politics.

    I think that puts me in the camp of ‘not a law I’d bring in’, but equally ‘not one I’m going to get very excited about reversing if I was in power’. If we had sunset clauses on legislation this would be the best way of dealing with this kind of by-law.

  • These are the battles we should let them win. We stand up nothing happens, good things happen because of the drinking ban and we look like idiots.

    Of course it’s authoritarian but the public will only care about results on a matter such as this and our protests will only knock the party further from them.

  • Norman Scott 30th May '08 - 12:09pm

    I think I’m minded to agree with Mund Leo, the media coverage of this, I’m going to guess, will focus on the eccentric dinner party and possibly 10 seconds of a serious point if you’re lucky. Not so much a ‘bloody nose’ as portraying the opponents of Boris as eccentrics and dogmatic.

    Better to take on the social conservatives where they’re clearly in the wrong such as on the abortion debate where Nadine Dorres has been on film hanging out with and seeking counsel from militant fundamentalist gay-hating Christian fanatics.

    The thin end of the wedge argument I’m not yet convinced by, what would be the likely next step in this slide?

  • “What about the 10,000 members of the public who are turning out to the protest? Or do voters only count when they’re called Angry in Suburbia and write letters to the Standard?”

    They will be badly portrayed and are protesting against something which has not happened so the public cannot visualize it even if you were right.

    I KNOW crime will go down, because people will be drinking less in the presence of those who are not.

    This protest will not do the liberals any favours.

  • “I don’t understand this. Your point was not about portrayal (presumably you mean in the media), it was about what the public think. You said the ‘public will only care about results’. My response was that many members of the public are already against the proposals. Who cannot ‘visualize’ what?”

    Sorry I meant the will not be able to visualize your points about the keeping of the current law. As currently most people would consider the crime rate to be high (even if it’s not), so any measure will be welcomed, and attacking drink is perfect.

    “Again, don’t understand. Do you ‘KNOW’ that crime is directly caused by people drinking in the company of people who aren’t drinking? This is what causes crime, is it? Quite a revelation.”

    I suppose I know there are some member of society that I don’t want anywhere near me or those I love when they’re drinking.
    So if they can’t drink maybe they wont do as many heinous things.

  • Norman Scott 30th May '08 - 12:50pm

    JH: “Banning drinking in public / outside pubs.

    Banning all food and drink on public transport.”

    O.k., but who, serious, is debating or suggesting the first of those ideas, the second is so anti-populist as to be a deeply unlikely from any camp.

    With the smoking ban there was a very large groundswell of groups and opinion formers pressing for action and a great deal of anticipation around it that further restrictions or tax rises would follow. I don’t see any indication of a return to the prohibition movements of the 1920s at the moment.

    I appreciate we may need to agree to differ, but I don’t see this as anything more than a headline moment about something that doesn’t matter, with few long-term implications for anything much.

  • Completely agree Norman. I can’t seem to make sense today.

  • Norman Scott 30th May '08 - 1:17pm

    On principle Leo I agree with you, however in principle legal prescriptions to obey traffic lights are an imposition on safe drivers due to the iresponsibility of a few. I don’t though intend to start protesting to demand traffic lights become optional (although as a cyclist Mayor Johnson may actually like that idea, his leader certainly appears to).

    On stopping him doing something similar again, I think if your protest makes his decision look like safety versus symbolism and eccentricity it will have the opposite effect. It is every politician’s dream to be attacked by groups perceived as quirky, dogmatic, or dangerous by the majority.

    If further Mayor Johnson does have more extreme measures in mind, such as banning London-based Liverpudlians from engaging in their harmless right to express mawkish sentimentality, or making monogamy grounds for dismissal amongst his staff, there will be quite siginficant opposition. Opposition with more clout and media access than this bit of fun.

    But if that time comes I will join you taking a stand. Right now though I’ll be sitting, probably on a tube, probably sober, and largely indifferent to the prohibition.

  • Perennially Bored 30th May '08 - 3:57pm

    As a lot of people have said – aggressive/antisocial behaviour on the tube is already illegal, and the people that do that will probably be happy to defy the alcohol ban as well. This will only affect law-abiding people that worry about that kind of thing, and therefore will have little impact on antisocial behaviour on the tube.

    Also as other people have said, the people who are a threat on the tube are the ones who are already drunk, not the ones having a tinny on the way into town because they’re too skint/cheapskate to buy a drink in an overpriced club – it’s very unlikely, by the time they get off the tube, that they will be drunk enough for it to have significantly affected their behaviour. Bear in mind some tube journeys are very long – say Amersham to Baker street takes almost an hour – drinking on a train journey of a similar length would not be considered antisocial – why should it be different on the tube.

    Also, and I’ve just thought of this, this will affect a lot of people who didn’t even get to vote in the mayoral election!!! If you live in say, Amersham and get the tube to Watford (changing at Moor Park), you would be subject to this rule even though not only did you not get to vote for the mayor, you will not even be passing through a GLA controlled area at any point! Which seems rather unfair.

  • My most powerful memory of alcohol on the tube was when I was in my late teens.

    In a more than merry state returning from the off-license me and a couple of friends interrupted what looked like a bit of an argument going on a bit further up the carriage.

    It looked like we were going to get beaten up, so we proffered them a drink.

    Everything calmed down from then and we all exchanged pleasantries when we scarpered at the next stop, so I like to think that in some cases alcohol can dissipate threats too.

    Would the law ever have stopped the Clash from taking speed on the tube? You can’t fight the law, because the law wins – but you can make it look ridiculous.

  • You give the electorate to much credit.

  • So how does this fit in with Johnsons talk about reducing police red tape and fighting crime? Instead of getting the police to solve serious crime, he’s going to have them waste countless hours arresting drunks and vagrants on the tube.

    The policy is ridiculous and pretty unenforceable – I for one am going to have a tinny on the tube when I feel like it, and its pretty easy to spot a copper getting on the tube the way they dress.

    If anyone tries to phone the police, i’m not particularly worried as they aren’t likely to have any signal!

  • Asquith, it’s not helpful or advisable to make judgements about the character of people, even if they behaved viciously and vindictively from a position of authority.

    To do so is to commit exactly the same mistake as this prohibition of alcohol on the tube makes.

    Sure, Blunkett behaved like scum would, but that doesn’t make him scum.

    Shouldn’t we then also ban paedophiles or murderers from travelling on the tube? After all they could be cruising for victims – but how would we prove it?

  • Oh, well, I’m on apricot schnapps with pineapple juice and tonic, mmm for cocktails. I agree with where you’re coming from, but condemning him won’t convert him.

  • Jo, don’t misunderestimate yourself – we love you, really, no, really we do! Have a hi-ball on me!

  • squiffy, I can demnstrate how to be intelligent and stupid at the same time if you want…

  • Living in London and coming home from work at 11 last night, I can tell you it went exactly as, er, Boris would have wanted.

    Everywhere you went smelt of booze, there were lairy people who presumably had started as soon as “the sun hit the yardarm” who were quite scary because they were out of it, there were empty cans and bottles strewn all over the platforms and concourses, and half the Tube network in zone 1 had to be shut because of out-of-control drunks.

    See more of this delightful “fun” here http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7429638.stm

    Boris couldn’t have planned it better – proved his point about a minority of irresponsible idiots ruining travel for others perfectly. So well done.

  • I daresay the four drivers and the other members of staff assaulted by “revellers” weren’t that impressed by the party either.

  • Yep, now liberals look so appealing for the masses.

  • Squiff: Yes it was all a dastardly plot by the evil authoritarian fascist with the blond hair and the dodgy shorts, giving everyone booze just so they could make even bigger t*ts of themselves and prove him right. Mwahahahahaha! His plan for world domination is nearly complete!

    Litter: how about “why can’t idiots not have a party on the Tube, and go and do it somewhere more conducive to parties like a pub.”

    Drinking on public transport is not a liberty, and still less is it comparable with free speech. I don’t remember reading about it in Paine or Mill. It is not the first leap to tyranny, not even a tentative baby-step towards it, and if anyone is even thinking of Niemoller’s quote they should grow up.

  • And it would seem this delightful little demo has proved Boris right about people who think a public space is their’s to use as they wish.

    This just makes the LibDems look like irresponsible student politicians who go out their way to offend people. It must be a real joy to be allied with the Sparts and anarchists on this one.

    Liberalism is not just about the rights of the individual but respect for other individuals as well.

    Since LibDem Voice helped encourage this little shindig with this post will they apologise to the people assaulted, those who were travelling home for regular reasons and missed their connections, and the cleaners who had to tidy up the torn maps and bodily fluids splattered all over the carriages?

    Or is your individual right not to apologise more important?

    From the BBC:

    ====================

    Six London Underground stations were closed as trouble flared when thousands of people marked the banning of alcohol on London transport with a party.

    Four tube drivers, three other staff members, and two police officers were assaulted, and there were 17 arrests.

    Several trains were damaged and withdrawn from service, which led to suspended services.

    ====================

    Peter Moore, 35, a sailor from Brighton, said he had downed a can of beer in 10 seconds. “It’s sweaty on there, but I’m going round and round until I vomit,” he said.

    ====================

    As Saturday night wore on, eyewitnesses described how drunken partygoers began fighting and vomiting, ripping up maps and adverts, spilling alcohol and leaving debris.

    ====================

    Seventeen people were arrested for offences such as assault, being drunk and disorderly, assaulting police, public order related offences and drug offences, BTP said.

    One police vehicle was damaged and two officers assaulted and another injured.

    Police also reported four assaults on train drivers and three assaults on other members of London Underground staff.

    ====================

    As well as assaults, there were also “multiple instances” of Tube trains being damaged, which meant they were withdrawn from service, which in turn led to several Tube services being suspended.

  • All to have a drink while travelling. How trivial liberals look. Equating this to Free speech was a masterstroke Leo.

  • It’s amazing how tories switch arguments when it suits them.

    Boris’ introduction of a ban on alcohol in the tube was a great way of reducing anti-social behavior but the ban on smoking in pubs was evil despite any health concerns.

    Um, nothing to do with spinning favorable opinion through your own perspective depending on who introduced the regulation, is there?

  • Shock horror Tories back policies based on political gain.

  • It highlights how political gain is often at variance with public gain.

    Does one wonder why so many people think this country is going to the dogs (according to the old refrain) after a lifetime under this Conservative/Labour zero-sum duopoly?

  • Shock Horror indeed.

  • No Mund, not shocking, no horror involved. It’s a sad and depressing indictment of wing politics.

  • Leo Watkins: really? Does On Liberty go on to mention getting wrecked on the Tube, which had then just started up (fittingly, it was the Circle Line IIRC)?

    Libertarianism is not just “do what you want”, there is also the question of effects on others, and drinking on the Tube (especially flashmobs of boozers) creates fear and distress; also detritus on almost every part, as we saw last night.

    Last night was a success only for Boris’s position, and it proved that anti-social behaviour is an inevitable result of the drinking of alcohol in places it isn’t meant to be drunk.

    Besides, you’re not old enough to drink apparently, so why the rush of concern.

  • passing tory 1st Jun '08 - 8:30pm

    I never realised I could make good money from renting out my old farts, Alix 🙂 … another market opportunity that I missed.

    Sadly I was unable to make the tube yesterday; I would have been tempted to squeeze in a cheeky half but I am too many time zones away at the moment.

    However, the troubles that did occur highlight the underlying problem well.
    While I am sure that you are able to quaff an admirable amount of your favourite tipple and stay good natured and charming (or at least remain witty in your misdemenours), unfortunately many people can’t. Add into this that many people do find it extremely threatening to have others drinking on the tube (not least because they don’t quite know whether they are sitting opposite nice Miss Alix, or someone on whom the disinhibitory effect of alcohol produces something rather more obnoxious.)

    I suppose this is analogous to saying that while raising glass to lips might not directly impinge on the liberties of others, the behavioural changes associated with consuming alcohol not only make many feel threatened but are also linked to a very high proportion of ASB.

    So while it is a step that I wish Boris has not had to make, I can fully understand why he did.

  • Grammar Police 1st Jun '08 - 9:01pm

    Passing T: “the behavioural changes associated with consuming alcohol not only make many feel threatened but are also linked to a very high proportion of ASB.”

    But how much of that “behavioural change” is because people are *drinking on the tube* as opposed to being drunk when they get on it?

  • How much of the ‘behavioural change’ is due to the alcohol and how much of the ‘behaviour’ due to the person?

  • Alix I understand the protest was a “Good” thing to do. It was the right things to do. But it does our cause no good. The people that protest will attract were already liberals they just didn’t know it.

    The remaining electorate just feel vindicated. It’s politics not philosophy, it matters how we look.

  • The same people obey the smoking law, but drink will be different?

    It’s not untruths I want from the Lib Dems, just selective truths until the public is educated enough.

  • passing tory 2nd Jun '08 - 5:06am

    Orangepan: “How much of the ‘behavioural change’ is due to the alcohol and how much of the ‘behaviour’ due to the person?”

    Strictly speaking neither. It seems that a person’s behavioural response to alcohol is largely conditioned by the expectations of society. Which means, from a policy point of view, what you really want to be targetting is what the public consider to be generally acceptable behaviour. Not an easy one to nail, though.

  • Grammar Police 2nd Jun '08 - 8:00am

    Alix, I couldn’t have put it better than you did at 11.14pm (which, presumably, is why I didn’t).

  • David Morton 2nd Jun '08 - 8:42am

    When i was a Councillor I successfully introduced a public drinking ban in our town centre and helped succesfully oppose one on our local park. I think any restriction on liberty needs to pass a very high threshold but specifically

    1. Proportionality. How big is the current harm being caused and how much liberty is being sacrificed?

    2. have other measures been exhausted?

    3. Is the legislation actually enforceable?

    4. does the legislation disproportionately or unfairly target a minority?

    5. An impact assessment for the law of unintended consequences or displacement?

    I suppose my point is I don’t see the London ban as being illiberal in principal. After all society has fairly wide restrictions on the consumption of alcohol which we all support. However it may be illiberal in practice. As a non Londoner who uses the tube as a tourist I shan’t say what I think.

    As for the flash mob protests. facinating use of technology and counter culture to make a political point. However also grossly irresponsible. facilitating thoasands of people to congregate, on a saturday night on a highly confined space already in use and drink alcohol until midnight. With no plan, coordination, safety assessment or anyone in charge.

    How could anything have gone wrong ?

    I suspect Boris will be laughing as in PR terms he couldn’t have asked for a bigger and better justification for his (probably) useless policy.

    If anyone asks TfL for a gender and ethnic break down of the cleaners who had to wade through the vomit and detrius after this stunt they’ll find I suspect a more pressing case of infringed liberty than people who have to drink the in the pub rather than the Tube.

  • While we are at it, why don’t we ban gum-chewing and eating on the tube? Both annoy me intensely and make me murderously angry at times.

  • passing tory 2nd Jun '08 - 9:39am

    Sesenco,

    I think that the problem you face is that there is an increasing tendency to assume that if something isn’t explicitly forbidden then it is OK. Eating on public transport used to be frowned upon because a lot of people (not just you) consider it unpleasant.

    In the current culture, however, there seem to be few grey areas; either something is banned, or else people will just do it regardless of the impact on other people. The middle ground – that of politeness and consideration for others – is too sparsely populated.

  • Asquith you paranoia is astounding. Or maybe you deem me unworthy of Alix’s efforts.

  • Round one to Boris.

    I can’t say I’m that sympathetic to the libertarians on this. Subway systems involve vast numbers of people being herded through steel gates, down stairs and onto fast-moving electrified metal worms. With all that complex machinery flying about, it’s little different from a factory or building site. Would you argue against a drinking ban in these locations?

  • Passing Tory, re: behavioural change and behaviour. I don’t think you can have it both or neither ways, one or the other please.

    I tend to think a person is responsible for their behaviour under all conditions (if not the individual, then who else?), so any behavioural change is an entire irrelevance to the standards that others should expect of them.

    Being drunk might be a reason, but it ain’t no excuse.

  • passing tory 3rd Jun '08 - 8:07am

    Alix,

    I think that you are right that it is partly an age thing, but then you have to ask yourself whether it is because one grows a little wiser with age or whether one just ossifies (as per asquith’s nightmares).

    It is very well for you, and nice clean-cut young Leo, to rail about how you don’t see why you shouldn’t be allowed to do anything you feel like but the macroscopic affect of such a philosophy is painfully clear in e.g. the failures of the current UK education system.

    I guess my position reduces down to the idea that boundries are not a bad thing. Ideally these are policed by group approval but that mechanism seems to be breaking down and so increasingly the only viable mechanism is the law (and I don’t like that any more than you do).

    This is not to say that I don’t expect the boundries to be tested. It would be utterly hypocritical of me to moan about young people going out, geting drunk and doing silly things. But the cruch is that such behaviour is very often antisocial and one should not be surprised to be censored over it.

  • passing tory 3rd Jun '08 - 8:17am

    Alix,

    Oh yes, and if you think that I am old fart with too much landed equity I challenge you to come and live where I do for a couple of weeks. This is not about personal finance or economics, the size of one’s home or bank account; this is about what sort of society gives everyone the the best chance in life, and how you in reality balance the freedon of the individual against the requirements of a stable society.

  • Grammar Police 3rd Jun '08 - 9:00am

    Feet-under-the-table-Tory, isn’t the point in this instance that the “boundary” set by Boris gesture politics pure and simple?

    The problem is not people drinking on tubes but rather drunk, anti-social behaviour on tubes/trains. We have laws to deal with this kind of thing already – is banning the act of drinking alcohol really an effective and proportionate measure that will further reduce anti-social behaviour on tubes?

    As for the use of law to enforce politeness, where do I start?! To me that sounds like some totalitarian nightmare, and woul,d in practice, pave the way for social authoritarianism on a grand scale.

    Surely the whole point of politeness is that it (should) comes from within rather than being enforced from without. It would remove the element of needing to think about other people as you go about your life as you’d just have to follow the rigid rules to be “doing the right thing”.

    You seem to be living up to your “tory” moniker today.

  • passing tory 3rd Jun '08 - 9:32am

    GP, I agree that it _should_ come from within. The problem that you have to address is what you do when it doesn’t / isn’t.

    In fact I agree to an extent with the idea that the alcohol ban is a gesture; but sometimes such gestures can be important in indicating what behaviour should and should not be tollerated.

    While I might not feel that threatened by groups of people drinking (I am not quite as old or as ossified as Alix makes out), I have talked to a great number of people – and yes they tend to be older – who are; people who feel they cannot go out to a town centre on a Friday or Saturday night and who feel hemmed in and – in some cases – distraught that they feel unable to go out and enjoy an area that they have often lived in for many years.

    Yes, of course it would be best to address the problem at source, but a clear message that govenement understands people’s concerns is not valueless.

    And of course the Lib Dems are not averse to a spot of gesture politics or social authoritarianism. I seem to remember a call for a ban on patio heaters being advocated not long ago.

  • I have to say that I’m in favour of ‘a spot of gesture politics’ though I’d place the condition that any gesture must be positive and be backed up by some evidence of the positive benefit it will have.

    I think it is entirely debateable whether the banning of alcohol on the tube is a positive gesture and there is absolutely no evidence as to whether the effect of it will be either socially or economically positive, neutral or negative.

    To put it simply it was an automatic reactionary gesture for Boris to hang his hat on and distract attention from his otherwise lack of action in the meantime.

  • Grammar Police 3rd Jun '08 - 11:18am

    Live in T said: “in fact I agree to an extent with the idea that the alcohol ban is a gesture; but sometimes such gestures can be important in indicating what behaviour should and should not be tollerated.”

    Yes, but what’s the behaviour that we really don’t want and should not be tolerated? Isn’t it anti-social and drunken behaviour? What have we banned? Drinking on tubes. Are the two things necessarily linked?

    No.

    As for a gesture to show you understand people’s concerns . . .

    In 2006, local Conservatives put round a leaflet where I live stating “the decent majority avoid Wimbledon town centre after 7pm”. Since then they’ve implemented dispersal zones and a cumulative impact zone (the latter to restrict new bars).

    As a resident of Wimbledon, I know the “decent majority” stuff is rubbish – but I know there are people that think this. But is the way to respond to this to implement schemes that are actually unnecessary, but look like you’re doing something, or to be brave and challenge the perception.

  • passing tory 3rd Jun '08 - 11:51am

    GP: “Isn’t it anti-social and drunken behaviour? What have we banned? Drinking on tubes. Are the two things necessarily linked? No.”

    Even my rudimentary statistical knowledge suggests to me that there is a correlation between incidences of ASB and drinking in (as oppsed to before entering) the underground. Not 1.00, I grant you, but not zero either as you state.

  • Grammar Police 3rd Jun '08 - 12:11pm

    The word “necessary” in “Are the two things necessarily linked?” states that the correlation might not be 0.

  • passing tory 3rd Jun '08 - 12:21pm

    Well, if correlation > 0 then we are saying that there is a link and the ban will have a positive benefit on (i.e. reduce) ASB. It has a negative effect in terms of reducing individual freedoms so then all we have to haggle about is whether one term is more significant than the other, which is something we could go on all day about so I don’t propose to start.

  • It may well be the case that alcohol aggravates anti-social behaviour. But anti-social behaviour is the same whatever state it’s committed in, & should be dealt with in the same way. This is obvious, it is what I call a good law.

    Bad laws, in which I include this ban, not only are bad in themselves but hinder the implementation of good laws. Going after everyone who drinks any alcohol at all will require an emormous, expensive police presence and will divert resources away from dealing with the morlocks. (Who can surely get drunk without drinking on the tube, and will probably find ways of circumventing the ban anyway, just as criminals merrily carry guns around without reference to the law while law-abiding citizens are disarmed).

    I humbly predict that crime in general will rise under BoJo, due to his divisive, punitive 80s-style policies, which will produce the same soaring crime as Thatcher did (not that the Tories will ever tell you that).

    Perhaps overlong, but you know.

  • Grammar Police 3rd Jun '08 - 1:32pm

    I agree with Asquith here, the real correlation is between drinking alcohol and ASB not between drinking on the tube per se and ASB. And I’m sure you’d agree.

    Furthermore, I don’t deny that the debate is about “whether one term is more significant than another”.

    As I said in my 9am post:
    “is banning the act of drinking alcohol [on tubes] really an effective and proportionate measure that will further reduce anti-social behaviour on tubes?”

    The answer to this is, for me, is no. I suspect that the vast majority of ASB on tubes is caused by people who are already drunk when they board tubes and those who would act in an anti-social manner anyway.

    Your response to this seems to be: (1) even if an action is completely ineffectual and unnecessary*, it might be worth it to show we’re listening to people’s concerns, because (2) society needs boundaries and (3) politeness needs to be enforced by the law because we can’t trust people to act in a polite manner.

    Here’s the link to join the Conservatives, I think you’ll feel right at home: https://www.conservatives.com/join/ ;o)

    *in what ways are the existing laws deficient in preventing alcohol-fuelled ASB on tubes? Anyone who’s drinking on a train and acting anti-socially will already be covered by existing public order legislation.

  • Your friend sounds like a thoroughgoing settler to me 😉

    Yes, I’ve been assigning everyone I meet a type. Next thing it will be fictional charachters…

  • Why so much interest in this relatively minor issue, when the Government is about to impose 42 days inprisonment without trial- nothing at all about this on libdemvoice!!!

    I find that incredible- that is the real destruction of liberty being imposed by authority, and libdemvoice is going on about Henley and drinks on the underground.

    I am not labour, but labourhome has a very interesting write up on this and EVERY feedback has been against.

    Look at the issues that really matter!

  • passing tory 3rd Jun '08 - 1:40pm

    GP, thank for the link, but I’m already a memeber. The clue is in the pseudonym.

  • Grammar Police 3rd Jun '08 - 1:46pm

    Ah, I seemed to mis-remember that you just identified rather than were.

  • Grammar Police 3rd Jun '08 - 1:50pm
  • Joe, I’m not sure that one restriction of liberty is necessarily worse than another especially when the grounds for supporting either restriction amounts to much the same thing.

    The only difference is that the alcohol ban is noticed by large numbers of people in a relatively minor way, while 42 days without charge will be experienced by relatively few people in an extreme fashion.

  • I am reluctant to ban things unless there is a really strong objective justification.

    Smoking in public places is one that passes the test. It is a vile, anti-social practice, and injurious to the health and well-being of those subjected to it.

    Public drinking is a little different, because bystanders are not actually required to ingest the offending substance.

    On balance, I think the ban is unnecessary, for the reasons already discussed in this thread.

    A restriction I find wholly offensive and unnecessary is the almost total ban on dogs from enclosed public spaces. What is the justification for this? Dogs are good for us and we live longer if we have one. Tying up dogs outside shops is downright cruel. I long for the day when we can walk into a shopping-centre or a restaurant and be surrounded by dogs once more.

  • Yes, I wouldn’t file any complaints if dogs were more widely tolerated. I like having dogs in pubs, the dogs & their owners enjoy the attention. Who would lose out?

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