Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Let Them Drink Beer.

Social media has been in a furore about Jim Murphy’s latest campaign trick to re-legalise alcohol at football games. It has gotten the nationalists flooding in their condemnation, how this will lead to the end of civilisation, that all our efforts to reduce alcohol abuse will be for nothing if we allow drinking at the football.

In light of this hysteria, it is important to note several things. Firstly alcohol is allowed at football games, but only of you can afford to be in the hospitality suite. This is a working class issue as it will not be the big spenders who do not have the option between a pint or a pie at half time. In my opinion there is no practical reasons why alcohol is not served in other areas than the hospitality in football. The truth is that those who want to be inebriated during a game will do so whether there is drink served there. They will merely fill their boots before the game. Similar to the 5 O’clock swill in Australia, there is a probable argument that alcohol at games would actually reduce binge drinking before games in order to keep these particular fans ‘buzz’ going.

Tea-total Jim claiming another Bru on the exes.

Let’s also be clear that the likelihood of having more than one beer before the game and perhaps at half time is slim to none. Standing in line for a pie and bovril at Hampden is testament to that. This isn’t anything new or original either. Go to Anfield or Old Trafford to watch English games and you can have a pint in the foyer before the game right next to the bookies to place your bet.I’ve heard the argument ‘if you cant go without a drink for 90 minutes then there is something wrong with you.’ That is about as logical as saying pubs should close on a Tuesday because you should all be able to go a night without drinking. Who determines which 90 minutes/day we cannot go without drink?

Don’t get me wrong there are many good arguments for maintaining the ban. Many comrades may feel the impact on children and families at the games. I understand that concern, however I would argue that those who are likely to ruin the family atmosphere still do so now with their increased consumption before games. Perhaps family sections which would also prohibit bad language is the answer.The only difference I see this bringing is an opportunity for much needed revenue for clubs in the Scottish Leagues.

The problem the nationalists seem to have with this is that they don’t know how to respond to it. This is a social issue they wish to counter that they can’t segregate working class people out of doing, (smoking) or tax them out of doing (plastic bag tax, minimum pricing) or threaten prison time (Offensive Behaviours Act). This is part of the reason why Murphy has launched the campaign.

But it is the other more prominent reason which we should all be wary about Murphy’s campaign. This is a fluffer piece, a distraction. Scottish football is plagued with issues that need addressed, we need to understand how to deal with sectarian behaviour which does not target fans unfairly in the way the OBA does. We need to reduce ticket prices to get more people to games, involvement in and with the local communities. There is a great deal to be sorted, but even then, why is this Murphy’s first crusade?

Surely as Labour leader he should be challenging the austerity measures inflicting gross inequality that is leading to 1 in every 4 children in Scotland living in poverty. Surely he should be questioning the council cuts to education and healthcare, stagnating wages in the public sector while MPs collect an 11% pay rise. The Labour leader should be working with his party to create ways to eliminate the need for food banks which had over 1 million users in 2014.

Murphy deliberately avoids real issues facing working class voters.
The reason he hasn’t is because he is not the solution, just a continual part of the problem. He can offer no new ideas, or radical policies as he believes in the austerity, i’m alright jack, MP expenses and pay rises because it works for him, not the people he wants to work for.

While I agree with Jim in principle that alcohol should be allowed to be sold in football grounds, I am not fooled that this is anything but a front to charm working class voters. By offering them a beer rather than address their key needs and aspirations, Murphy is the Marie Antoinette of Scottish politics, and the SNP are looking like middle class liberals arguing with him that only those with money can drink responsibly at football matches.

Let them drink beer, because they’ve bugger all else!

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