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A huge piss-take

Watching the scenes at Liverpool Street Station unfold on TV on Saturday night, I spotted a huge banner “Planet Before Profit” and wondered what deluded idiot – probably an Indymedia regular – thought that the piss-up on the Tube had anything to do with ‘alternative’ politics. Isn’t getting people pissed and stupid part of the ‘profit’ drive of ‘big business’? ‘This is political?‘ I asked.

Come on! For most it was just a huge excuse for a flash-mob vomit-a-thon, as regular commuters were terrorized and inconvenienced. Indeed, if it showed anything, it is exactly why drinking on public transports should be banned.

I’ve read in several places the mantra that the ban is “unworkable” and that it places the burden of enforcement on Underground staff. Really? So how come no one smokes on the Tube?

There is such a crisis of binge-drinking that the government today issued guidance on how much alcohol children should be allowed to drink. Apparently the old advice of, generally speaking, ‘none’ is no longer sufficient as adults run scared of teenagers armed with screwdrivers swigging from 2-litre bottles of no-name-brand ale.

Why is drinking on public transport considered a “cherished freedom”? It is unnecessary and unpleasant for other commuters. Why should people using public transport have to dodge broken glass, sit in carriages that smell of vomit, have to deal with the stench or boozy breath and body odour, while fearing the attendant anti-social behaviour that the weekend’s ‘protest’ demonstrated. On Saturday it was conveniently all in one place at one time, but the mini versions of this scenario play out every day all over London.

What really annoys me is the cod-libertarianism that presents itself as concern for civil liberties when in fact it is quite the opposite. It is concern for self and is in fact utter contempt for the ordinary Londoner, who has the right to travel about our city safely and in comfort.

Why not protests in favour of smoking on the Tubes, or of playing Techno on boom-boxes?

The fact of the matter is that communal space needs to be defended. The moment one interest is elevated above others, then that space ceases to become communal. That is more of a threat to our social fabric than asking people to confine their drinking to places that are designed for that purpose in spaces shared by others who have also chosen that environment. In the confined space of public transport, people do not have the option of simply leaving if the atmosphere becomes unpleasant.

They have rights too, and it should go without saying that few rights are absolute. Most require a balance. To some, it needs to be spelt out. To others, it’s just about being decent.

I have a Vox AC30. My neighbour has a new baby. It’s not difficult to work out whose ‘liberties’ should take priority.

UPDATE:

Ah! Now the Evening Standard has interviewed the person responsible for organizing the tide of hooliganism masquerading as a freedom march.

Mr Graham, of Fulham who now fears for his job, said he did it because a female friend who worked in a senior position for former mayor Ken Livingstone lost her job following Boris Johnson’s election victory.

He shouldn’t only fear for his job. He should be prosecuted for incitement to criminal damage and made to pay for the clean-up operation.

UPDATE 2:

Union leaders called on Boris Johnson to apologise to London Underground staff today after they were assaulted and spat on during last night’s ‘booze party’, organised to mark the start of the Mayor alcohol ban on public transport.

I just shake my head at how PATHETIC that is.

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