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UK beer boom Beer Street and Gin Lane?

10th August 2015

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The UK’s Tory austerity-obsessed government hails an economy rallying “beer boom” but is it really a case of Beer Street and Gin Lane?

“Beer boom” fuels rise in breweries across the UK (msn.com).

David Cameron “beer boom”
“A new brewery is opening up in Britain every other day following a ‘surge’ over the past two years. The Government said the figures showed Britain was a ‘Brewing powerhouse’, with all parts of the country enjoying a ‘beer boom’. The trend is boosting the economy, with the beer and pubs sector now responsible for 869,000 jobs.”

Austerity-obsessed booming in the beer?

All well and good but, and don’t get me wrong, I’m not particularly anti-beer, but wasn’t the Tory austerity-obsessed leadership terribly concerned about doing the right thing in the public eye by attempting to curb binge drinking by raising the cost of excessively cheap often imported alcohol only a few years back? (nhs.uk, 2012). Did Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith not try to convince all that even he could live off a tenner a week which should surely preclude fine English brew, and did the UKIP—home from home for some disaffected elderly Tories—manifesto at one point promise to punish any who spend their welfare benefits on alcohol?

And lest we forget that it has been a finger wagging exercise for the medical profession and its dietary advice for years that we should watch the amount of our alcohol unit consumption with alcohol abuse costing Britain £6bn a year (dailymail.co.uk).

“Alcohol abuse could be costing the UK up to £6 billion a year in NHS bills, premature death, losses to business and drink-related crimes and accidents, it was claimed…. A study by the Royal College of Physicians said drink-related health problems could account for up to 12% of total NHS spending on hospitals, about £3 billion.”

Drink beer, ban porn

Leg Spreader

And while this economy rallying “beer boom” is championed, Tory fudge finger is aimed squarely at the “dangers” of other forms of corrupting relaxation and entertainment such as the “need” to ban porn websites (Latest Picks 31st July 2015) while “neanderthal” beer adverts leave some “frothing”: Fancy a pint of “leg spreader”? Neanderthal beer adverts leave me frothing (telegraph.co.uk).

“Beer companies seem to think that as long as they have one ‘female friendly’ product, they’re immune from accusations of sexism and can carry on giving their products offensive names ([such as Leg Spreader, Slack Alice, and Naughty Noelle, they] are all real, by the way) and producing clichéd TV adverts that objectify women.”

While an economy boost is not good enough an excuse to seriously consider a real practical—and taxable—solution to the massive amount spent attempting to continually prohibit other drugs, leaving it to police forces to fall upon a solution them self—small scale cannabis growers won’t be prosecuted by Durham police (metro.co.uk).

Beer Street and Gin Lane, more intimately connected than they at first appear

For let’s be clear, alcohol is a drug, just one that is acceptable to those elderly enough to exasperate Tories with threats of joining UKIP to set the clock back sometime before the recession. And this makes Cameron and co’s glorifying of a beer boom while pointing austery finger at everything else seem reminiscent of Georgian-era pictorial satirist, painter, cartoonist and social critic William Hogarth’s Beer Street and Gin Lane (Wikipedia) in which the Protestant work ethic inhabitants of Beer Street appear happy and healthy nourished by English ale while the feckless, poverty stricken cheap spirit swilling inhabitants of Gin Street appear in a scene reminiscent of something by Hieronymus Bosch or Edvard Munch.

“… as with so many of Hogarth’s works, closer inspection uncovers other targets of his satire, and reveals that the poverty of Gin Lane and the prosperity of Beer Street are more intimately connected than they at first appear.”
Beer Street and Gin Lane (1751) by William Hogarth
Beer Street and Gin Lane (1751) by William Hogarth

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