Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Pots, Kettles, Carbonisation and NuMPties ...

Cover image of the Report of the Health Select Committee Report -July 19th 2012

I am grateful to the former group editor of the Publican's Morning Advertiser, Paul Charity, for reminding me of the on-going hypocrisy of the nu-MP-ties in Westminster.

In his most informative daily Propel Newsletter, he reports that:

"Midlands MP condemns booze culture in the House of Commons: MP Aidan Burley has called for an end to the “boozing, alcoholic culture” of the House of Commons. He claimed excessive drinking was encouraged by late working hours that meant MPs had to sit around waiting to take part in votes. He told The Commons: “We have a problem: the late-night, boozing, alcoholic culture of this place. That is something that is made worse by having to wait around until ten o’clock to vote.
... and opines thus:

"It’s an irony that Health Select Committee MPs are set to condemn progress by the alcohol industry in reducing excessive drinking when there’s clearly such a problem with excessive drinking among MPs themselves. Perhaps this has blinded them to the realty – drinking is reducing year-by-year in the UK but cultural norms, including a tendency to rapid drinking in this country, take a long time to re-shape, not least among middle class types working long hours in Westminster."
Surely this can't still be the case after the Speaker, John Bercow, who chairs the House of Commons Commission, the body that runs the facilities of the Commons, promulgated this at the end of April in the wake of the Eric Joyce debacle (remember the hard-drinking, Tory-head-butting nu-MP-ty for Falkirk?) : 
Alcohol policy

The Commission takes its responsibility for the welfare of those who work on the Commons Estate very seriously. Following careful consideration of the issues around alcohol consumption it agreed the following actions to promote responsible alcohol use:
· a wider range of non-alcoholic drinks and lower strength beers will be provided in catering outlets

· staff serving alcohol would receive further training and support in refusing to serve customers when necessary

· at receptions and events where alcohol was served, glasses would be topped up less frequently

· further promotion of the support available to Members and House staff by the occupational health service and the Speaker's Chaplain

· consultation to take place with the Administration Committee, the House of Lords and the Sports and Social club on the opening hours of bars on the Parliamentary Estate
... and that, folks, is what passes as a "policy" ... "further training for staff" - what, like publicans have to undertake on the basic principles of licensing law (oh, forgot Parliament only makes laws for the rest of us not themselves) ... "topped up less" - bet they'd put their hands over their collective glasses if they really had to pay for it ... which brings me on to pricing, the Commission noted that significant price increases had occurred in recent years and that bar prices were now comparable to high street pubs, not that there was much evidence of this in January when prices certainly seemed to be "deeply discounted" but perhaps things have changed since then ...

This hand-wringing, cringe-worthy display of two-faced-ness by the nuMPties puts me in mind of Grandma's admonition to us when we questioned some of her more illogical promulgations : "Do as I say, not do as I do".

This, of course, from the members-only club that brought you financial melt-downs, nose-in-the-trough expenses scandals, any number of "omni-shambles", Olympic-gate, the beer-duty escalator ... who continue to refuse to get tough with the off-trade by means of existing licensing law but will no doubt introduce minimum pricing as part of their continued tax-raids on the hospitality industry ... whilst axing august bodies such as the Alcohol Education Research Council that inform and educate on responsible drinking -get real purleeeeese!

(Today's piece has been brought to you by The Hyphen Corporation - bringing you "Joined - Up - Thinking",  for the 21st Century, a sub-division of Ellipsis plc ... "Need We Say More?")

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