Monday, May 28, 2007
I often emerge from my fitful slumbers around the time the first news bulletins come up on Radio 4. These seem to be becoming increasingly divorced from anything that can rightly be called 'news' (though, happily, priorities often shift later as some real stories come in) - and increasingly dominated of late by the anti-alcohol wowsers, who won't rest until this nation is teetotal. Today's meaningless headline-grabber (so meaningless that I can't find a single link to it) was a proposal that all bottles and cans must be labelled with the number of 'alcohol units' they contain - a measure that would have zero effect, but keeps up the pressure to present all alcoholic drinks as poisons. A short while back came the ludicrous 'advice' that parents should not allow a drop of alcohol to pass their children's lips before the age of 18, as drinking at home leads to binge drinking on the street. This has been firmly knocked on the head since, but it still became, briefly, a big 'story'. Then, a few days ago, new 'guidelines' were issued, declaring that pregnant women should not drink at all. The beauty of this one was that those proposing it cheerfully admitted that this was not in line with the best (though still ultra-cautious) medical advice. They were working on the assumption that people - especially pregnant women, bless their fluffy little heads - are incapable of understanding such nuanced advice, so the best thing is to issue a blanket ban. This is worse than patronising, and it points to a much larger phenomenon that has blighted the nation under Blair/Brown - the erosion of Judgment in both personal and professional life, and its replacement with legalistic structures of compliance and proscription. This is a large theme, and I feel the metaphorical pen falling from my weary fingers at the thought (that's the trouble with fitful sleeping) - perhaps someone Out There will pick it up (the theme, that is - you'd be wasting your time looking for the pen)...?
Posted by Nige at 9:52 am