The weirdly-timed backlash against the forthcoming increased flexibility in pub opening times continues.

“Tory leader Michael Howard said the legislation should be shelved until binge drinking has been brought under control.”

As far as I am aware, binge drinking has never been under control in British history. It’s a largely unpleasant part of the culture here and to think that it’s controllable through the pub opening hours is delusion. The various quotes in the Guardian piece seem to be saying “relaxing licensing laws won’t make any difference to binge drinking”. Agreed: so why bother restricting freedom of choice unnecessarily?

Maybe there are ways to deal at a cultural level with binge drinking: I’m not sure what they might be*. I’m sure that our legislature deciding for me whether I may remain in an alehouse after 11.20 on any given evening isn’t it. I don’t see how it’s any of their business, and it’s an ongoing irritation that they think it is.

The Government agreeing to a review of the effects of the changes after a bit seems sensible, especially if it shuts the irksome puritans up. But why aren’t these analyses talking about Scotland, where more sensible licensing hours appear to make a sum total of no difference whatsoever to levels of drunkenness or alcohol-fuelled crime?

* Perhaps seeing pictures of other drunks would do the job. I’ve been out in Rugby and there seemed to be plenty of drunks to look at without having their pictures projected onto the buildings.