Sunday, April 03, 2005

Here Comes the Election

I've decided to concentrate my attention on British politics in the run up to the election. I've said it before but, just in case you missed it, I'll tell you what I'd like to happen. I want Blair out. I normally vote Liberal Democrat but I know they won't win the election. So, realistically I'd like Labour to win with a smaller majority which will pressurise Blair to resign. I think there should be a wider choice in elections and I think PR might give us that (it's why I vote LD every time). I also think that big business has far too much influence in the UK, and pretty much everywhere else. Basically, I'd like to see more fairness in society. Although I have never voted for Blair, I did once think that he would move the country in this direction, but I don't think that anymore. I hated the way he manipulated the public with regard to the invasion in Iraq. And I never want the Conservatives to win another election. Ever.

Tough on Crime, Tough on the Causes of Crime
At one point, I thought that "Tough on the Causes of Crime" was a reference to social exclusion, poverty, and problems with the education system. It seems reasonable, prison punishes but it rarely rehabilitates. If we really want to tackle crime, then the causes should be the starting point. I used to think this was what the slogan was all about. Not anymore.
New Labour have announced instant fines for serving drunks.
I've got two problems with this. My first objection is based on my personal experiences. As it says in my tag line, I have suffered from apathy for some time. It wasn't that I didn't care exactly. It was more that I thought there wasn't any point in fighting the status quo. I knew about global poverty, corporate power and corruption, and the suffering caused by war, and I thought it couldn't be changed. So, instead of trying to do something about it, I lost myself in an apathetic haze. Better not to think about it. When I drank, I couldn't drink in moderation, the temptation to blank everything out was too strong. I haven't had an alcholic drink for a long time now, it's probably been almost a year. These days, my only vice is too much food. (Day 20, still no cigarettes, my last nasty vice is being defeated.)

I managed to fight off my apathy with a lot of help from people who care for me but it wasn't easy. I believe that it is problems like these which have led to the increase in binge drinking in this country. Obviously, other people might have different worries, but in most cases it is a feeling of powerlessness which I believe is the root cause. So, fining bar staff for serving drunk people isn't likely to have much effect. It is a classic buck pass.

Secondly, as someone who has worked in a retail environment for a long time (although I'm temporarily between jobs at the moment), I'd have to say that bar staff already have a very difficult job. The idea that bar staff can curb binge drinking is a ridiculous notion. I'd say that anyone who seriously believes this will help has never had to deal this a drunk person in a retail environment. I have (not in a bar, in a shop), and it isn't easy. Bar staff are often students, and often poorly paid, and to add to their worries they may be under pressure to achieve sales targets. I do not believe it is fair to pass the responsibility for this onto their shoulders.

It is the cause of binge drinking which needs to be addressed. Tough on the causes of crime seems to have been forgotten. In the now all too familiar New Labour mould, this new strategy makes an excellent soundbite, but in the end it will make very little difference to the lives of the people of this country.

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