Must… not… like… pretend… buffoon

In the last couple of weeks, Boris Johnson has done three good things that I can remember:

* Allegedly had a row with David Cameron about Crossrail, taking London’s side
* Endorsed cycling home after a couple of beers
* Supported restarting tours of London’s disused Tube stations

Meanwhile, I can’t think of anything bad he’s suggested over the same time. And yes, I know the whole point about the probably-manufactured Crossrail row is to do a ‘moderate’ act, and I know the latter two points are irrelevant identity statements with no serious policy implications, and this kind of thing still isn’t going to make me vote for him.

And yet… and yet the latter two are identity statements that I approve of. The public admission that having a few drinks isn’t a problem, and doesn’t impair your functionality to the extent that you can’t ride a bleedin’ bike [*], is both entirely true and against the mood of these curmudgeonly times. And tours of disused Tube stations will make existing geeks happy and help recruit new ones – and were done without any problems until 2000, so clearly could be restarted without causing any major harm. Indeed, both are the kinds of things that humourless pseudo-experts rail against, whilst not causing any major harm. They’re the opposite of the showcasing, ‘let’s ban stuff that doesn’t do any major harm but that we don’t like to send a message’ side that makes the current government so loathsome [**].

And yes, I know that Boris’s tube-booze ban is the ultimate example of a spurious ban, second only to the Tory plans to turn back the licensing laws to the absurd WWI-dictated situation that prevailed previously [***].

So, can we have someone on the left who’s prepared to stick up for Fun Stuff over Spurious Bans? Hell, someone on any official side would do. Then again, since the target audience at this election apparently consists of middle-aged nurses who’re afraid of everything, probably not.

[*] Car comparisons are spurious. We allow kids to ride bikes, fercrissakes.

[**] I might, through extremely gritted teeth, vote for them this time round as discussed. But my God, they are.

[***] The licensing laws are an excellent example of lobbying from big business creating an unalloyed improvement that neither party dared to or wanted to bring about in their own right. Since the public mood at the moment still seems rather puritan, I’m thanking all deities for the fact that the booze industry has deep pockets and political influence.

6 thoughts on “Must… not… like… pretend… buffoon”

  1. On the other hand, the booze industry is also using its lobbying power to perpetuate a quasi-monopolist position on tied houses that doesn't particularly benefit consumers. That could usefully use some trimming, to my mind.

    On the cyclist/booze thing I'm incline to agree with you (and I do enjoy riding down to the riverside pubs for a quick pint, but no more than I'd happily drive after), but it's not a plus point for Boris, who's merely continuing to think that cyclists are a special case to whom rules that they're quite happy to impose on others don't apply.

    The problem with Conservatives of his type is not that they don't believe in individual freedom and liberty, but that *they don't generalise it to people who aren't Conservatives of his type*. Hence the contrast between Boris and his Bullingdon chums getting ratarsed on champagne and smashing things up and, say, youth gangs getting ratarsed on cheap vodka and smashing things up or, on a more global scale, the difference in attitude to the bankers fucking the economy up through giving themselves grossly perverted incentives and refusing to acknowledge the consequences of their actions and, say, if the unions had done it by byzantine working practices, outrageous pay demands, mass strike action and refusing to acknowledge the consequences of their actions. It's not like you're going to see Boris saying 'if we don't give Bob Crow what he wants, he'll go and work in Frankfurt'.

  2. 1) yes, although I'd argue that was really the real estate industry – the operators who drove the 24-hour rules were chains rather than owners of tied houses, and the owners of tied houses don't have any real involvement with the brewing or sale of alcohol. I assume you've seen JQ Publican's excellent LC piece on this?

    2) yes, that's a really good way of looking at it. To the extent that the interests of freedom overlap with the interests of People Like Boris, he's in favour of freedom, which probably puts him ahead of NuLab on points, but that isn't good enough and People Unlike Boris shouldn't fall for it…

  3. The original axing last year was v. bad, for sure – but over the last few weeks he's been responding positively towards the consultation and implying that he'll raise funding.

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