This superb letter appeared in the Telegraph this morning...
Here on the Continent, the news from home is sometimes a bit patchy. Do I understand that the Government which introduced 24 hour drinking against all advice except that of the drinks industry, is now blaming the drinks industry for selling drinks during these 24 hours?
Steve Astell, The Netherlands
I started wondering how the government might reply, and thought that Harriet Harman would be just the person to draft such a letter to the Telegraph. But she needs some helpo from you, dear readers.
I suspect there are two possible replies:
1. The Prime Minister is the best person to lead us through this difficult time, which is nothing to do with the Government as it has been brought on by international pressures (i.e. other nation's ability to handle their drink).
2. Fuck off you male chauvenist facist pig.
That's just what a man would say. End of argument.
Make sure you check out Paul Mason's excellent 'Idle Scrawl' Newsnight blog on the BBC, where he speculates further on the future for Harriet the harridan Harman...
In reply to Mr Astell, can I explain that the Drinks Industry are acting very irresponsibly.
As you are aware we, the listening government, wanted what the people asked for, a European type culture which allowed for alcoholic drinks to be purchased whenever you wished. An end to the binge drinking especially when the last bell was rung.
But, the anti social drinks industry allowed more and more clubs and pubs to sell alcohol at cheaper prices. the so called Happy hours appear to last most nights. Resulting in drunken scenes the likes of which were last seen in an Hogarth Print!.
Now we are not only a listening government, we are a government that takes action. So we are telling the drinks industry to get their act in order and realise that the only place in this country which, from this date onwards, will be allowed to sell subsidised alcoholic drinks will be within the Palace of Westminster!
We, the government which listens, which acts, which is responding to the needs of our people. Suffering under the pressures of the global financial turndown. We know what they want and we will provide.
May i take this opportunity to announce our latest initiative. Not only will we be having a draw, tickets £5, at each election for an IPOD we intend to ensure that people pay the proper price, including VAT, for downloading music.
We are the government that leads.
Gorgon Brown. Beloved leader.
As you know, this government has a proud record of confronting prejudice and inappropriate behaviour throughout society. Although much progress has been made, more remains to be done and, under the inspired leadership of Gordon Brown, we will not shirk from taking firm action where necessary.
The latest figures show how far we have come. I am pleased to see that 24-hour drinking by the Gay and Lesbian community is almost up to the level traditionally achieved only by white heterosexual males. Teenage girls are also breaking down traditional barriers. However, ethnically disadvantaged communities, and especially older women, still have further progress to make if we are to achieve our equality goals. I will therefore be putting forward proposals in a White Paper to help redress this unacceptable imbalance by introducing on-the-spot fines for licensed premises which do not serve equal numbers and strengths of drinks to people from all religions, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
I do hope you will soon be able to return from the Netherlands to join in our great endeavour of building a progressive society where everyone is treated fairly.
Dear Sir, (hic, slurp)
My husband and I....(hic)
.....crashing noises stage left.....
The legislation was brought in by the government to permit greater freedom to you, the public. You are now free to drink day or night as part of the Continental cafe society we have introduced.
HOWEVER, you will not be permitted to smoke in the pub, eat fattening foods such as crisps or pork pies (legislation to be introduced in the next Parliamentary session) or call the barmaid "love".
NuLabour is all about the freedom to enjoy yourself in the ways prescribed by us.
"Here on the Continent, the news from home is sometimes a bit patchy. Do I understand that the Government which introduced 24 hour drinking against all advice except that of the drinks industry, is now blaming the drinks industry for selling drinks during these 24 hours? "
Typical Tory bansturbator: every bit as authoritarian as Labour, into collective punishment every bit as much as Labour. I detest Labour with a passion, but the Tories will be just as bad.
Why can't the Tories adopt a simple political philosophy: leave me alone unless and until I actively intrude on someone else. The near mythical drunken hoodie is intruding: put him in the cells overnight. The person buying a bottle of wine for their dinner that night isn't intruding on anyone. Why should they be inconvenienced?
We Shell beer and,and,and drinks,.. and beer and ...erm..beer tenty four hours a week becushe, well..[hic] we have to drown our sorrows, becaushe ..[hic] Gordon Brown..[burp] Gordy Gordy Gordy Gordy lordy lordy.Oh lordy..
We have a grate grate leaper who hash your welfare check at the four, four front of his brainz.
Boo Hoo..Glasgow East..Boo Hoo. The fox hunting ban was fun, but this! This isn't good.. Oh lordy [sip..slurp]Lordy gordy.
God I'm pissed.. This is madness..
I hope that addrezzes your conshcerns..
I must go now, I'm doing a spot on Sky..hic
I would help Ms Harperson but I'm in a queue at the airport with all the other men in the country trying to get a flight out...
charlotte corday wrote:
"NuLabour is all about the freedom to enjoy yourself in the ways prescribed by us."
To that I'd add..."Conservativism is all about the freedom to enjoy yourself in ways proscribed by us"
Simply, yet beautifully written.
The government has a proud record of promoting its proud record so I am delighted to answer your query.
The government is proud of its record in encouraging people to spend money, not least on drinking, and pay VAT. And the government is proud of its record, and its right to be proud of this record, of wasting those taxes on your behalf.
But we feel your concern and share your worries. Indeed we are proud of feeling your concern and sharing your worries.
You should remember that drinking is a world problem and we should all be concerned - and indeed we share all your concerns - that there is not enough drinking in the third world.
Indeed there is not enough of anything in the third world and we should all share all our concerns about that and we would all be concerned if the third world were not concerned about any lack of concerns on our part.
But lets be honest Steve, we all know - and its therefore right to be concerned - that things would be much worse under the Tories and their right wing Thatcherite leader Cameron.
But in truth Steve the cause of our drinking problems is clear. Its caused by men. Men making alcohol, men drinking alcohol and men vomiting alcohol. Indeed all the worlds problems are caused by men and its right that we should be concerned at this and I hope everyone shares my concern.
In fact your writing your letter and causing me this problem is further proof of the problems caused by men and so its right that we act. Act now and act decisively. I am proud to say, and its surely right to say, that when elected leader I will abolish men, especially white heterosexual able bodied working men and in particular fathers.
Finally, I am sure you will agree, and its right for you to agree, that I, as a woman of the opposite male tendency and indeed a woman of long standing, am the right person to lead us through these difficult male-less and fatherless times.
'it's all the fault of the men'
I do not usually respond to male non-constituents so count yourself fortunate. The simple answer is that after 3 election wins in 1997, 2001 and 2005 the Parliamentary Labour Party is quite capable of steering our people as we see fit.
Here in Blighty we are having a debate about responsible drinking - a conversation that doesn't seem to have reached the saloon bars and fleshpots of Amsterdam.
If you have nothing to hide and are not being sought by the authorities you can return to the UK at any time? Coming back are we? Thought not. It's no surprise that a Tory rag would give space to an ill-informed nonsense from a one-man argument for harmonising international sex laws, but that doesn't mean I have to respond to such diatribes. No stay away from me.
Harriet Harman MP (the only elected Leader of the the British Labour Party)
After 3 election wins we are quite capability of steering our people as we see fit.
Thank you for your letter highlighting your concerns. While I respect your opinion on this matter I must inform you that drinking and eating policy an EU competence thanks to directive EU1234/5. Drinking and eating can only be solved with EU cooperation.
Recieved my second Total Politics today. Much better than the first one I thought, some good pieces.
MP's are only programmed to say one thing
"It's the rest of the world which is causing our problems"
She hasn't got a brain of her own has she?
With a name that is an anagram of Stella and an address in the Netherlands you will know that your letter is deeply revisionist.
Police and indeed people living on the continent and cosmopolitan folk in general were up for the change. And liberal hours work in many places.
It is selling alcohol very cheap - including as supermarket loss leader, where you can pick up a kitchen knife set while you're at it - and the lack of control over under-age and over-full drinkers that is getting the criticism.
And rightly so.
PS I thought you were some sort of liberal Iain?
In order to combat this excessive rise in drinking I have proposed that we ban Happy Hours, however my boss Gordon has said even better why dont we ban Happy altogether.
So we will be recalling parliament at the earliest opportunity and will ban happiness.
There's a Club 18-30 ad running on your blog. Heavens, I would never have guessed that that was your audience's demographic.
From the Right Honourable H. R. Harman MP QC:
Following rising public anxiety over this issue and in my capacity as responsible Minister I commissioned an independent review to investigate the problem. In broad summary, its’ conclusion was that alcohol abuse takes two distinct forms:
A) Chronic, excessive consumption of alcohol by those afflicted with a reckless and irresponsible nature. This is genetic in origin and affects only certain individuals bearing a defective chromosome. It therefore cannot be cured entirely but can be ameliorated by a dramatic increase in the cost of alcoholic beverages.
B) Alcohol abuse affecting members of society with impeccable character and credentials but whose daily experience of discrimination and inequality nevertheless drives them to drink.
This second group can be helped and indeed, I intend to make this Government priority.
I therefore propose:
A 400% increase in the alcohol duty rates for those in group A. The money raised will pay for a corresponding cut for group B.
Additionally, in order to rectify the inequality that is the basic cause of Group B alcohol abuse, its’ members should be shown preferential treatment under all circumstances, especially regarding appointments to positions of executive authority. Indeed it follows logically that the most habitually inebriated Group B members should be fast-tracked to the most senior appointments. This will promote fairness and equality in the workplace.
Note. It has come to my attention that some oldthinking reprobates have dubbed this proposal Harman’s Boozy-Floozy Bill. Usage of this term is a matter for serious disciplinary action for all public sector workers and in time will become a criminal offence.
HRH MP QC and Minister With Innumerable Titles Because You See Unlike You We Can Multi-task.
The explanation of why we were absolutely right to do what we did will take some time. Are you free on Saturday night, you naughty boy? About 8pm? I'll bring some wine, my local Tesco is doing a great Pinot Grigio for £1.99 - buy two, get one free. I'll put the flight down to expenses. I won't need a hotel, will I?
As the Prime Minister has emphasised, Britain is lucky to be led by a Government of all the talents. Within that it is only right and proper that we should listen to those with the greatest knowledge of the drinks industry - those who make the most money from it.
There is also a fundamental equality issue here. How can we expect young people to grow up if we do not positively encourage them to get drunk at the earliest practicable age in preparation for the many many years of alcohol misuse that lie ahead of them. I can also remember only too well the bad old days of the 1960s when young men were free to get tanked up but us girls had to make do with half a pint of shandy or a Babycham. Wll, no more. Under Nu Labour female teenage drinking has soared and the self confident young women of today now outdo young men in this field as in so many others.
Finally, we really do need to look to the future and, in particular, to the needs of those of more advanced ages who are less well off than us but whom we want to play a full role in the community.
The great expansion of the drinks industry under our Governement has opened up a wealth of new and exciting opportunities. As befits their skills and talents, after the next election, I confidently expect that many Cabinet Colleagues and female MPs who lose their seats will be able to gain secure and useful employment at board level or as senior advisers on a number of major firms in the Industy. Indeed, many are now doing detailed and comprehensive research each day in the House Bars as part of their pre-retirement training.
Of course, not everyone will have the inclination or skill needed to operate at this level, but even for male backbenchers I am sure there will always be a place, even if only washing glasses in Messers Weatherspoon's local empoirium.
Yes, in the Big Tent of Labour politics, there is room for all of us.
God I hope nobody pops up saying that they fancy shagging her....
Chris Paul (and Iain) should of checked his sources: the author was of course "Steve Axtell" (according to today's Torygraph, middle of ****ing nowhere edition)so his name, sadly for NuLab, is not an anagram of Stella(hmmm....Stella).
I love the accusation of "revisionism" though!!! It's just so retro!
Forward comrades into gooddrinking! No more crimedrink! Crimedrink creates ungood thoughts GB-wise.
mirtha tidville said...
"God I hope nobody pops up saying that they fancy shagging her...."
In the right circs maybe. Perhaps if she were chained to the ceiling and was first administered a sound whipping. I think that could work.
Dear Mr Astell,
I am so sorry that you are a mere man and, therefore, unable to grasp the subtlety of the situation.
You are, of course, quite correct in thinking that we disregarded advice other than that of the drinks industry. It is, after all, the leading expert in drinking, the evidence of which is contained in its profit statements. Obviously you are not aware that our policies are now based on evidence that we consider sound and not theory or common sense.
Keen to adopt the customs and behaviour of our neighbours ahead of full Ratification, we were delighted when the drinks industry assured us that 24 hour drinking would mimic the culture of darling France and wonderful Italy. We ejected the smokers from the pubs, clubs and restaurants (sooo not a good look) which encouraged the industry to attract shiny, hardworking families with good teeth and good values (ours). We envisaged jolly laughter over a glass of Pinot Grigio to accompany the bowl of warm salad leaves - a vision of innocent happiness in the Utopia that is the UK 2008 which my Government has helped to create.
As part of this vision, we expected the drinks industry to regulate the drinks sold, in effect, to ration units per individual. We are, therefore, not blaming the drinks industry for selling drinks 24 hours a day, but for selling alcholic drinks to people who have reached the safe limit of one glass of wine. We have no objection, whatsoever, to unlimited sales of fruit teas, sugarfree soft drinks and decaffeinated coffee. We are disappointed that we will have to introduce legislation to enforce rationing. Publicans found serving alcohol to customers who are tipsy will be fined £2,500 and anyone who staggers when standing up, £50.
The fines will mitigate the little spot of financial bother that my Government finds itself in and allow me to buy the delightful al fresco tableware that I noticed in the window of John Lewis.
I trust that I have explained in a way that is simple enough for you to understand.
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