Sunday, October 30, 2005

Public transport 'drink ban plan'

This story illustrates two points about Britain and British politics. What is it, to begin with, about the British and drink? Why should we be the only people in the world who can't be trusted to be sensible with the stuff? The answer is, of course, that we are no different than anyone else. It's not that we are less trustworthy, but that our Government is less trusting. Any parent of teenagers knows that there is no better way to stimulate bad behaviour than to expect it and clamp down on it before it begins.

The second point is about our approach to law enforcement. Some people frequently get drunk and behave badly. Most people don't. Bad people behave badly whether it's illegal or not. They will smuggle alcohol onto trains and planes and drink it, Michael Jackson-style, from Coke bottles. When they get nasty the bus drivers, trolley dollies and wagon dragons will pretend not to notice because, let's face it, they weren't hired to be police.

Good people, however, are easily controlled. So, says the Government, let's control them and be seen to be doing something. It may create thousands of unpleasant interactions between fundamentally nice travellers and fundamentally nice people serving them on buses, trains and planes, but no-one can say we didn't act.

Don't trust anyone to be personally responsible. Anticipate bad behaviour. When it happens, restrict the liberty of good people as well as bad, spreading resentment and rebellious attitudes. Avert your gaze from the really bad in case they get nasty. Repeat this pattern a thousand times and you have modern Britain, with its sociologist coppers and bullshitting politicians persecuting the respectable and chumming up with the underclass.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Public transport 'drink ban plan'

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