Nick Cohen tackles the licensing laws and comes down in favour of the cosy traditional pub (I'll drink to that). When he has written on this and on gambling he gets to the heart of a dilemma of the left. The old cliché of Labour owing more to Methodism than Marx is never truer when its puritanical, regulatory streak comes to the fore. However, when it discovers its liberal side, Cohen points out that the beneficiaries are frequently the big corporations out to exploit our weaknesses. Despite this, I am with the liberals. This comment neatly sums it up:
"… were our licensing system abolished … it is highly probable that drunkenness might temporarily increase ... But in the end it would doubtless lead to far more general temperance, and indeed it is probably the only way whereby the drunkenness of our towns can be permanently diminished".
It was written by Albert Tarn, a little known Individualist Anarchist, in 1891. Come on New Labour! Catch up with modernity - you are only 115 years late.