by Stephen Tall on February 7, 2014
Conservative leader and Prime Minister
Reason: for ruling that pubs can open longer during the World Cup.
Poor Norman Baker. On the social libertarian wing of the party – he’s a previous Liberal Hero for defending the freedom of cyclists to ride without a helmet if they choose – this week he somehow ended up as a pettifogging, rules-bound jobsworth.
This summer sees the footballing World Cup take place in Brazil. The time difference means games will be played at odd hours. A lot of people will want to enjoy this once-in-four-years occasion with friends in a pub over a drink or two. So the British Beer and Pub Association requested of the Home Office that serving times be extended during the opening and closing weekends of the tournament. And Mr Baker’s response?
“We have no plans to extend licensing hours for this year’s World Cup. It is our normal practice to only extend licensing hours under the Licensing Act 2003 in exceptional circumstances, usually for one-off events such as the golden jubilee rather than for prolonged periods.”
At least no-one can accuse Norman of being a populist.
But David Cameron is. And on this issue he’s also out-liberalled Norman, countermanding the Lib Dem home office minister’s instructions:
I have ordered a rethink on pub opening times for England's World Cup games – will consult with pub trade, police and councils.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) February 3, 2014
Cheers, Prime Minister. I mean, we’re all going to need a drink to get us through the England team’s performances.
* The ‘Liberal Heroes of the Week’ (and occasional ‘Liberal Villains’) series showcases those who promote any of the four liberal tenets identified in The Orange Book — economic, personal, political and social liberalism — regardless of party affiliation and from beyond Westminster. If they stick up for liberalism in some way then they’re in contention. If they confound liberalism they may be named Villains. You can view our complete list of heroes and villains here. Nominations are welcome via email or Twitter.