Dead Men Left

Sunday, November 27, 2005

"The People's Alcoholic"

Good to see George Best's long-expected death being used to provide a telling moral example to us all.

George Best is mourned by millions who remember his exhilarating genius on the pitch, yet this reckless Government is ensuring that more - perhaps many more - will follow him on the drink-sodden path to disease and death.

Down the road from me is a wet room. I walk past it every morning, and there's always a small crowd gathered, cans already opened, contents already downed. On my way back home in the evening, whatever the hour, there are always places still selling alcohol.

The point is simple: there was always 24-hour drinking available in the UK, if you wanted it: chances are, you probably wouldn't, and most people didn't. Simply making late-night (or indeed early-morning) drinking less clandestine is not going to affect that. That hasn't stopped the fulminations, obviously. Compare the Mail's dire predictions of catastrophe...

And the public? On this first weekend of the boozing free-for-all, they face more no-go areas and vomit-splattered pavements in town and city centres.

...with the police reports:

MERSEYSIDE "I don't think it's been any busier than any other Friday night. There were no serious violent incidents related to drink. It makes you wonder if perhaps the Government was right."

NORTHUMBRIA, which includes Newcastle. "It was a generally quiet night with no drink-related incidents of note. There were a total of 20 arrests across the force for drink- and disorder-related offences."

GREATER MANCHESTER "Colleagues have told me that Manchester city centre was quieter than usual for a Friday night."

WEST MIDLANDS "Colleagues in Birmingham Broad Street said it was no different from what you would expect on a Friday night."

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE "Colleagues said it was a normal Friday night with no major incidents."

SUSSEX, including Brighton. "There were no particular changes in the pattern or number of incidents."

KENT "It's been a very quiet evening. People tend to behave themselves when it is icy."