In a surprise move the Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt is to announce that the Government will take the smoking ban one stage further and ban the sale of alcohol in public places at certain times of the day. She is said to have already drawn up plans which will see pubs and hotels go tee-total in a bid to curb Britain's ever growing alcohol dependency problem. The top secret document has been leaked to this Blog and will create uproar when the details become known. The Government says it is being totally consistent in its approach and cites 'protecting people from themselves' as one of its aims. Patricia Hewitt is said to be 'buoyed' up by the huge majority in last night's votes to ban smoking outright in public places (except House of Commons bars, natch) and believes that it would be possible to obtain a majority to ban the sale of alcohol in pubs. Asked for a comment this morning, a govermnet spin doctor said: "Patricia Hewitt believes that the health of the nation is her number one concern and that people have to be saved from themselves. They will thank her in the long run." Meanwhile, Rob Hayward, chief executive of the Beer & Pub Association reacted with outrage. "F****g hell," was his initial reaction.
Now, dear reader, you have presumably gathered by now that this is a little invention on my part, but it does have a certain 'nanny state' logic behind it, doesn't it? Alcohol kills, just as smoking does. If we were to ban everything that was bad for the population we'd not have much left, would we? I'm sick of being told by the Government what I can and cannot do. This is the most illiberal government in modern times. I hate smoking. I hate the stench it leaves on my clothes and kissing a smoker can be like licking an ashtray (but let's not go there), but I would defend people's right to smoke, just as I would defend their right to free speech, something the Government will be seeking to curtail today in the Terror Bill. A sad day for liberal democracy. Incidentally, this is a prime example of why David Cameron calls himself a liberal Conservative.