Alcohol

The thing that I really hate (well, one of them) about this coalition government is that we seem to have something very much like Labour.

It’s like you just need to pick & choose the most unpalatable parts of both parties platforms and merge them together.

With the Tories, you may get sound economics, but you get authoritarian social policies.

With the Lib Dems, you may get (sometimes crazily) liberal social policies, but you also get the economics of Keynes.

With the coalition, we seem to have Keynesian Authoritarianism.

I mean… graduate tax student loans with higher interest rates for the most successful? And redemption penalties for those that pay off early?

And in terms of authoritarianism, it’s hard to imagine even the puritans of New Labour coming up with this latest wheeze.

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The ”24/7 sobriety” programme involves people paying to be tested for alcohol twice a day after being convicted of drink-related crime, and appearing in court to face the prospect of a jail sentence if they fail.

Oh aye? Can you say AlcoBO?

It has already been implemented in the US, with the state of South Dakota reporting a 14 per cent drop in the prison population as a result, according to Deputy Mayor of London Kit Malthouse.

He said he would like to pilot the scheme in the capital in 2011, subject to government approval.

He described London as having a "disproportionate problem" with alcohol where almost twice as much alcohol-related crime is committed compared with the rest of England.

Sooo.. you’re going to try this out in London are you? Based on a scheme hailing from the country with the most twisted attitude to alcohol of any Western nation? And from a state that no-one ever goes to, and is riddled with po-faced religionists.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, I’ve been thinking about this and the list is pretty long. Because while you can bet this ruse has been conjured up to tackle a hard core few persistent drunken troublemakers, it never turns out that way, does it?

"The advantage of this is it is not just punitive but corrective," he told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.

Corrective? Do go on…

"It may be that it is used as an alternative to prison or conjunctive to prison."

Mr Malthouse said that current methods such as counselling did not work to discourage persistent offenders and that some needed a "more rigorous approach".

He added: "If you ask the police there are some people who cause trouble every Saturday night."

Ah yes, as I said.. it’s aimed at a hardcore minority.

Mr Malthouse said the American version of the scheme had a 99 per cent compliance rate and that it was "of no cost to the tax payer", because the people taking part paid a dollar per alcohol test. He described it as a ”cheaper and more cost-effective” alternative to prison.

Yes yes.. and for those who have committed serious enough crimes to warrant prison, perhaps this sanction has a place.

Sure, it’ll start that way, with such good intentions as pave the way to hell. But, sooner or later…

End up in front of the beak for a spot of drunk & disorderly? £100 fine, £40 costs and an AlcoBO. You’re ordered to be dry for 12 months.

Wanna bet it couldn’t happen? Wanna bet innocent and legitimate photographers could never possibly be harassed by the police under abusive invocations of our Anti-terrorism laws? No.. that already happens, of course.

Back to booze laws then. Ask drinkers in Crawley who have experienced the zero-tolerance approach, by the police and their plastic pals, to even genial and mild drunkenness of a Friday night.

This is the next logical step for the zealots, and you can bet the swelling ranks of hypocrites and puritans infesting this country will rub their hands together with glee, egging on the police and courts to take ever more radical action, against ever more trivial infractions.

Now to the reasons why this scheme is just as likely to be both unjust and unworkable, as it is to be implemented with relish by the drones and collaborators of the state.

It has the potential to be unjust in at least a couple of ways.

The first is that this will be implemented under the guise of preventing or punishing behaviour for which criminal sanctions already exist– Public Order Act , Offences Against The Person Act etc etc, and if these offences were properly dealt with, the need for this sweeping new power would cease to exist. So what exactly is this proposed law for? Probably to make life easier for the police, who are, obviously, never known to overstep the bounds of their authority, or to use their powers injudiciously.

The second is that, similar to the ASBO, it would criminalise an act which is, in itself, perfectly legal. I.e. drinking alcohol. To completely ban a person from consuming alcohol is a serious infringement of the rights of the individual.

Consider the eventuality I describe above, of these orders being handed out rather more freely than Kit Malthouse would care to admit.

Now, hand one of these orders to an alcoholic, say. One who holds down a job and lives a relatively untroubled life in terms of brushes with the law. What have you just done? Oh yes, you’ve said to someone addicted to a legal substance, ‘I will put you in prison each time you have a fix’. And will the alcoholic get the help and support he would need for this undertaking of sobriety? Not likely.

Next, a reason why the scheme is impractical and unworkable. They want to test people for alcohol twice a day? How?

Consider the pilot of this scheme, in London, with its highly transient population, as well as a million or more commuters who come from all over the country on a daily basis, not to mention the tourists.

Would they effectively want people to report to a police station for a breathalyser test twice a day? in London? For a year? Or perhaps they could be more sly than that and enforce blood tests and other invasive medical tests weekly or monthly, so that they could detect alcohol consumption?

Oh wait – there’s the massively expensive technology solution! Someone, somewhere must be building a breathalyser, that includes a GPS tag and cellular technology, so the recipient of the order has to self report, in real time. But how would those monitoring know who was blowing into the thing? No.. thats obviously gonna need more thought. Perhaps build DNA testing of saliva into the unit? Sounds cheap.

Sadly, the outcome of London’s pilot will be that the scheme failed because it was too localised. A projection would show how very successful the scheme would have been, if there was a national database and cross-county co-operation.

So even though the scheme will prove to be calamitously expensive, unjust and unworkable, it will be rolled out nationally on the basis of these finding.

If you look back at the last quote from Malthouse, above, it bears repeating:

it was "of no cost to the tax payer", because the people taking part paid a dollar per alcohol test.

Of no cost… no way. Not here, with the multi-million pound IT system, the gold-plated legislation, the enforcement teams, the medics, the courts, the prison places, the lawyers, the cases being defended in the the European Courts of Human Rights.

Spare us.

AJ

Now, can we please STFU about binge drinking?

It is instructive that the unrelenting puritanical clamour for a clamp down on binge drinking comes as overall consumption is falling.

Perhaps they’re in such a rush so that they can get their plans in place, then laud them a success on the back of the existing trend.

It’s happened before, where speed-cameras were installed where there had been a lot of accidents the previous year, and their efficacy ‘demonstrated’ by showing a reduction in accidents that is merely a regression to mean.

Post puritan, ergo propter puritan.

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Alcohol consumption in 2009 saw the sharpest year-on-year decline since 1948, figures from the British Beer and Pub Association suggest.

The BBPA said the data showed a 6% decline in 2009

Well… 6% is nothing to be sniffed at, but it’s probably just a bli… oh.

the fourth annual decline in five years.

The association said UK drinkers were now consuming 13% less alcohol than in 2004, below the EU average.

So can anyone tell me what the ‘crack-down’ and the minimum pricing is all about?

Other than control, miserablism and peck-snifferous repression, that is.

Fuck ‘em all.

AJ

Blogstipation

Being silly season, there’s not really much happening at the moment that isn’t complete bollocks or made up media filler based on reports peddled by fake charities and righteous agendas.

I’m sure inspiration will return in due course – and/or something will piss me off so immensely that I’ll return frothing and foaming anew.

In the meantime, go and have a look outside. Perhaps you can do something for the common good, and be the monster that the smokophobics have created?

Oh and be sure to check out the latest bully state outrages at Big Brother Watch.

AJ

P.S. If you happen to be a farmer, in East Lothian, how about turning your muck spreader on these smelly fuckers at Gogarburn?

Wait, what?

Lots of us have chattered on about the idea of banning the burka. Me, here, Kevin Boatang here, Mr Civil Libertarian here.

Basically, it boils down to this: You cannot support such a ban and be a libertarian.

David Mitchell deals well with the idea in the Graun.

There was also quite a good stab at it on the Moral Maze on Radio 4. (available until 30 July)

Philip Hollobrain’s private members bill, proposed to ‘regulate’ (ban) the wearing of burkas & such like in public places.

He also told The Independent that…

he will refuse to hold meetings with Muslim women wearing full Islamic dress at his constituency surgery unless they lift their face veil.

So there we are. Philip Hollobrain is a douchebag. As is his right. Oh no… wait. It’s not his right.

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A Tory MP has been warned he could face legal action if he follows through on a threat to refuse to meet constituents wearing the veil.

Lawyers for Liberty have written to Philip Hollobone insisting that his stance is unlawful and that they "will be happy to represent any of your constituents that you refuse to meet because they are veiled".

The group warns him that the UK’s Equality Act and the European convention on human rights (ECHR) oblige him to avoid discrimination. Because his ban would only affect Muslim women, it would also amount to indirect sex discrimination, the letter says.

Ah yes. A reminder, if it were needed, that Liberty are very choosy about what sort of liberty they defend, and for whom.

And Hattie’s Equality Twister is in full flow now.

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And what did I predict when this ghastly legislation was being discussed?

The paradox of Hattie’s little scheme is that the result will be the diametric opposite of equality and the total opposite of tolerance and forbearance. As minority after minority take their grievances of perceived prejudice, disadvantage, offence or discrimination through the courts, a hierarchy of protected minorities will emerge. The result will be an acceleration of the balkanisation of society that is already well established under this Labour government. The very divide-and-rule approach to control that has deprived the British people of their ability to just rub along together, brushing off perceived sleights.

  • Gay rights will trump Christian rights.
  • Muslim rights will trump gay rights and women’s rights.
  • Women’s rights will trump men’s rights (except Muslim men).
  • Pedestrians rights will trump those of cyclists.
  • Cyclists’ rights will trump those of motorists.
  • Mothers with baby buggies will trump the rights of pedestrians, especially if they’re breast-feeding at the time.
  • Children’s rights will trump those of parents, except mothers, who are a protected group.

This way lies madness. Can anyone not see that?

And I had forgotten that Mr Hollobrain had already been in hot water with offence-seeking race loons, who reported him to the police for describing the burka as

"the religious equivalent of going around with a paper bag over your head with two holes for the eyes".

Unwittingly, he may finally be winning me over to his point of view. He’s certainly gaining my sympathy.

Paradoxically, supporting him may have become the libertarian thing to do, if it means defending his right to hold and express crackpot views, then that’s what I must do.

AJ

Cameron vs Facebook

I’ve commented recently on the sick and absurd dedications to Raoul Moat that have appeared on Facebook and elsewhere.

Cameron was asked about these tributes in PMQs yesterday. He pledged to have words with Facebook about it. They told him to take a running jump.

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Eminent Tellygiraffe commentator Ed West has posted on the matter:

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Now, as much as I’ve already expressed my despair at the mongiferous outpourings of sympathy and support for Moat, I do not support any effort to shutdown or otherwise censor, or ban, these sort of pages.

Apparently, Voltaire never actually said “I disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

This disappoints me, but the sentiment is no less fundamentally sound for it.

AJ

Doctors: Diagnose ailments, prescribe remedies. And shut the fuck up.

The medinazis are one lobby that was always going to transcend a change of government, so this shouldn’t be surprising:

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You see, chaps, you don’t seem to understand a fundamental point:

WE KNOW IT’S NOT HEALTHY. WE ARE FREE AGENTS. WE MAKE OUR OWN CHOICES.

Some people get the balance ‘right’, others don’t. Although quite why we should take any of these health muppets seriously I don’t know, given their track-record of manifest ideological (or pharmaceutical) bullshit regarding smoking, drinking, eating and recreational drugs.

The driving force for the fact that they feel entitled and compelled to hector us all can be collapsed in one easy move: Their argument always boils down to the cost incurred by the NHS in treating smokers, drinkers, fatties etc.

So we privatise the whole thing and halve national insurance contributions. People can self-insure their health or take out a policy.

At a stroke, the power of doctors’ arguments of ‘public good’, ‘public health’ and ‘cost to the NHS’ all go straight out of the window.

Which is probably why you’ll not find too many doctors supporting my plan. Quite a change from when the NHS was created and 9/10 doctors opposed it.

Remind me though. Is the government’s Chief Medical Officer still an enormously fat bastard?

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Apparently not. Lardy Liam’s been replaced by a Quangocrat shrew. Good times.

AJ

This must never be allowed to happen again

It’s the clarion call that follows every tragic incident and leads to the eternal ratcheting up of state control.

Safety notices, health and safety laws, regulatory requirements on manufacturers and suppliers, monitoring QUANGOs, consultative bodies, risk management professionals, kneejerk bans and swivelling of exopthalmic eyes.

Take this fine and pertinent example:

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Oh dear kiddies died. Oh noes! Poor ikkle angels :o(

SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!!!!1111!!!!

The family of a Bridgend girl who died after becoming trapped in a sliding electric gate are supporting a campaign to ban them in residential areas.

Karolina Golabek, five, died on Saturday, less than a week after another young girl was killed in similar circumstances in Manchester.

The relatives of Semelia Campbell have told BBC Wales that both deaths were “pointless”.

Tragic as it is, their deaths were indeed pointless. As are most deaths. It’s nature. Life. Deal with it. Preferably not by turning this tragic but hugely unlikely accident into a crusade to interfere with other people’s lives and choices.

I mean, really. Get over yourselves, grieve your loss in private and have some dignity for pity’s sake.

I despair.

AJ

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