Monday, July 05, 2010

Illiberal authoritarian wowsers

The government is currently considering its response to the Law Commission’s report on reducing the harm caused by alcohol, and it looks like restrictions on opening hours will be the "cornerstone" of their response. In other words, the government is going to impose a nationwide closing time, and try and dictate when people drink.

This is simply illiberal, authoritarian wowserism. As I said when the report was released, it is none of the government's business when people party. This is not to deny that late-night drinking causes problems - but a proper respect for liberty means that the response should focus on those problems, rather than victimising everyone regardless of guilt or innocence. If people smash windows or get into fights, they should be arrested; if they don't, the state should leave them alone. That basic rule of a free society applies 24/7, not just during daylight hours.

What next? A national bedtime, to prevent late-night crime? It's the same logic, the same lazy authoritarian approach which ignores our freedom to live our lives how we choose. But just as its none of the government's business how late I stay up, its none of their business whether I drink at 6pm, midnight or 6am. If people are harming no-one, then they should be allowed to do as they please.