Shifting the responsibility for licensing pubs and clubs from magistrates to the State has been the most colossal failure. Magistrates had a fair degree of discretion as befits those to whom we devolve such powers and although a licensing refusal could be appealed it rarely was; once the bench had decided that a landlord or landlady was no longer a fit person to hold a licence, then time was up. The State's petty functionaries could be allowed no such discretion, and licensing decisions based on a tick-list designed to ensure that Moldovan lesbians were treated equally have given us instead High Streets clogged with half-clothed drunks as they spill from places the old magistrates bench would never have permitted.
But rather than admit defeat and retreat the limit of the central State, the government in a move so incomprehensible it must be genius has decided that this 'binge drinking' nuisance will be best solved by imposing a minimum alcohol price on supermarket wine. "Yes, I admit that it hasn't worked and that we've got it wrong. But by leaving it as it is and charging you an additional £700m in tax instead will at least ensure our chums in Diageo continue to do well even if it cripples the micro-brewery in your village"
It stinks like rotten Mackerel.