For those that don't know, The Late Night Levy will charge pubs/clubs for staying open after midnight. The idea is for local councils to use those funds to pay for extra policing and cleanup after late night drinkers apparently destroy the place. It makes Britain sound like an interesting place to be after midnight. Clearly something happens after the click strikes twelve that makes late night drinkers aggressive and crime orientated nutters around the country. Is that true? I know that I have been around Britain after midnight and never seen any kind of problem. So perhaps it's just a few areas then, why penalise everyone? Why anyone at all?
At the end of the day, Britain and many northern European countries have strict alcohol control. The result is a society that feels alcohol is a rite of passage in to adulthood. It's seen as mysterious and something to aspire to when you are young. When you are older, that stays with you because of government restrictions.
The more you restrict alcohol, the more desirable it becomes. The same goes with a lot of vices and the evidence is clear around the world.
In southern European countries, alcohol is different. Children are not taught that alcohol is only for adults, under adult supervision they are allowed a certain amount. There is no aspiration on their part to reach the legal drinking age so they can get blind drunk as often as they like. Drink is usually available 24/7 and almost everywhere so you don't need to confine your drinking to restricted times. The culture is not to go out and get drunk either, on the contrary, being drunk is frowned upon. You can go out and do anything, have a drink and move on. Maybe pop in to a bar for a few and move on to do something else. Drinking tends to go hand in hand with eating too, something that's not so much the case as you head north.
Why is it that the more you restrict alcohol, the worse any perceived alcohol related problem is? Alcohol restriction is not just where and when you can buy alcohol but also how much it costs. If you take Sweden as an example of a country with draconian measures to prevent people drinking, yet they apparently have twice the number of alcohol related deaths as Ireland. Anyone see a pattern emerging?
I have heard from visitors to Sweden that they are likely the biggest binge drinkers in the EU. It's so expensive that they keep all of their drinking until Friday and Saturday nights where they go out and get slaughtered for two nights.
I'm often hearing about tackling the "binge drinking crisis" and I'm sure in some cases, that is a concern but it defies logic that further restrictions on alcohol can possibly be a cure. It has been tried repeatedly in many countries around the world and it only makes things worse. If there are fewer restrictions on alcohol availability and no attempt to tax it off the market, then people wouldn't see the need to go on a binge session.
I'm probably getting a little off track here so back to The Late Night Levy. The end result of this is likely to be that pubs will start closing at midnight to avoid the cost. If all the pubs in a rough area that is already known for a minority of troublemakers decide to kick everyone out at midnight, what do you think the end result will be? It will be an escalation of any alcohol fuelled crime rather than a decrease.
The Late Night Levy will not work. It can't work, all it can do is lead to the opposite effect.
The solution is to tackle the root cause of antisocial behaviour. Alcohol doesn't make people aggressive, quite the contrary I find. What it does do is remove inhibitions so a naturally aggressive person is more likely to act out, rather than restrain themselves. These people do need to drink less but by their nature, if you restrict when they can drink, they will condense it in to a smaller time-frame and that will only make matters worse. Anyone remember reading about the infamous Six o'clock swill? That's an extreme example of what can happen when you restrict alcohol availability.
For the most part, people are sensible and able to enjoy their drinking without the need for intervention from the authorities. I know I certainly am and I have met few people who are any different.
I would hope that some common sense will be seen and the late night levy, like the beer duty escalator, will eventually be scrapped.
Address the root cause of anti social behaviour and not don't penalise the majority of sensible drinkers because a few make a nuisance of themselves. If anything, alcohol should be more freely available and less restricted and a campaign to make drunken behaviour seen the same way as drink driving is seen these days. Only a few years ago, drink driving was the normal thing to do. These days, anyone having a pint and getting in a car is likely to meet a lynch mob it seems, such is the disgust. A very successful campaign only a few years ago has led to this. Well, with the exception of the farmers in Kerry of course.
Perhaps I'm talking through my arse. Perhaps I don't know what I'm talking about, that's very possible as I didn't do any research. It's just a rant, I'm venting my frustration that the many are discriminated against because the few are a bunch of drunken assholes and can't behave themselves in public, be they drinking or not!
If anyone finds their blood boiling or wants more info or would even like to get involved, The Common Sense Alliance are running a campaign to get rid of it. I can't see The Late Night Levy as being a good thing but feel free to disagree with me.