When you switch the BBC on in the morning, be it the TV breakfast show or James Naughtie's socialist briefing on Radio 4, you get the news which corresponds most to the BBC's obsessions, which are the hobby-horses of the grown-rich-on-taxpayers'-money liberal chattering classes: "equality", "diversity", climate change, prison-doesn't-"work", more-immigration-please, I-Love-the-EU, English-culture-embarrassing (except football and anything from the North - except the huge rise of the BNP there)/foreign culture good (and don't mention the honour killings, homophobia and Jew-hating). To this list of the usual suspects can be added a new, bubbling-under category: 'Now smoking has been banished from pubs how can we get drinking out of them?'
Watch this item from BBC Breakfast this morning.
The first thing to be said about the piece is that it fails to ask even one member of the public for their opinion (wot, no "social democracy"?). This is either lazy journalism or the manifestation of editorial approval. The Beeb being the way it is these days it's probably both. The second thing is that when strong-arm anti-liberty measures are proposed which involve police interference, say stop-and-search in areas of high ethnic density, the BBC rigs its coverage to demonstrate why they think the new measures are a bad idea. All manner of people, usually Shami Chakrabarti, are wheeled on to decry the new measures. Not the case with alcohol in Oldham. The ending of street violence becomes a non-negotiable necessity. Very laudable, I must say. But if this story was about a clampdown on violence and drug-dealing/taking in East London or Birmingham, 'community leaders' would be placed upfront in the item, laying out their objections and saying such measures would 'alienate the community'. The white working class in Oldham are not afforded that privilege.
Further thoughts: I'm not defending the loutish behaviour - I wouldn't go in one of those bars if you paid me - but I smiled at the irony when I watched the piece, because the problem of extreme drunken violence and bad public behaviour has been mainly caused by things the modern liberal-left strongly approve of: deeply equivocal and pluralist attitudes to family, education, morality and public behaviour. In other words, letting it all hang out, baby, is all fun until someone loses an eye. Don't expect The Guardian or the BBC to spot this obvious fact. The final thing to say is that if I'd been the reporter instead of that pliant dolt Richard Bilton, I would have finished my piece with these words from Edmund Burke: "Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be from without."