by Ed West
Thursday, 11
March 2021
Spotted
16:15

More pubs, less extremism

A new paper argues that a decline in boozers emboldened support for UKIP
by Ed West
Soon we can all return to our natural habitat

I remember once watching a documentary about Paul Heaton and the heavy drinking culture he came from, and his realisation that it wasn’t alcohol that he craved so much as pubs.

I have come to really appreciate that this last year; I even dreamed a couple of times about pubs.

At the same time I’ve come to realise that home drinking is quite depressing; Zoom drinks, after the novelty wore off, were dismal affairs. It has all the destructive downsides of alcohol without its strong power to act as a social lubricant.

Matthew Syed wrote about this a while back, specifically on how remote working would never succeed because so much innovation was the product of serendipitous meetings between individuals in proximity; I’d go further and say that serendipitous meetings with alcohol probably play a big part in innovation, and there is some correlation between alcohol-using (and in particular beer-drinking) cultures and high levels of trust.

We don’t just have the Catholic hierarchies and their ban on cousin marriage to thank for our outward-looking culture, but the monks who developed beer.

So I’m not surprised by a new paper which links pub closures with voting for populist Right-wing parties, in this case UKIP.

The most obvious link seems to be that support for these parties is linked to changing immigration levels in an area, and in particular increased numbers of Muslims; and pubs in Muslim areas tend to close down. However I think there is something in the author’s thesis that “the decline of local socio-cultural hubs, which increases the sense of social isolation and status anxiety among the affected community”.

In the US, support for Trump was correlated with low levels of churchgoing, a signal for more general social isolation; in the British Isles pubs have a huge effect on reducing isolation and loneliness, which was why drink-drive laws in Ireland were linked to rising rural suicide.

Unfortunately during lockdown we’ve seen what life is like without pubs, which like many things is merely an extreme version of a trend already happening — the move away from social drinking towards drinking at home.

Alcohol can be a deeply destructive substance which causes all sorts of misery, but on the other hand a world without pubs is one of profound sadness and melancholy. I wonder how much the strange politics of the last year has been, deep down, about sheer loneliness.

When the pubs open next month it won’t be just any re-opening; it will signal a huge improvement in our wellbeing and, with any luck, an improvement in our politics, too.

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Vikram Sharma
Vikram Sharma
1 year ago

The dislike of pubs and the people who go to them are the same instinct that fetishises the ‘oh so suave’ cafe culture of Europe. The same people who sneer at UKIP and the English swoon at sexy European accents and debase themselves at the altar of everything EU.
Pubs are quintessentially English. I tell colleagues who come to work in UK from India that to feel at home in England they should do two things. Go to the pub, even if they don’t drink alcohol. And get a dog. Easiest way to make friends with the English. You just have to meet the English where they feel comfortable.
Long live pubs.

Last edited 1 year ago by Vikram Sharma
Colin Macdonald
Colin Macdonald
1 year ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

A little wine for thy stomaches sake perhaps?

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Good on you Vic. Cheers!

G Matthews
G Matthews
1 year ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Exactly, very astute.

G Worker
G Worker
1 year ago

Let us get this quite clear.
It is extreme for a political class to coerce European nations into a process of dissolution and government by an anti-democratic, internationalist elite. It is NOT extreme to resist that, and to seek to preserve one’s nation state.
The europhile is extreme. The immigrationist is extreme. The multiculturalist is extreme. The anti-racist is extreme. Those who fight for the freedom, right to exist, and ethnic interests of native Europeans are healthy and normal.

Last edited 1 year ago by G Worker
Rob Mcneill-wilson
Rob Mcneill-wilson
1 year ago

I have two observations.
UKIP was not extremist – it was specifically opposed to the extremists engaged in the creeping betrayal intended to terminate our people’s democracy, ultimately terminate our country’s very existences as an independent nation state and hand over our nation’s sovereignty to an alien, corrupt, anti-democratic, protectionist, incompetent, dirigiste, imperialist, flawed and failing, 1950’s experiment.
Pub closures are a bad thing. It is good for people to be social and sociable and local pubs are invaluable social hubs,

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

Once again, the sneering denigration of UKIP as ‘populist and ‘right wing” when in many respects many of its beliefs and policies are quite left-wing. Moreover, perhaps a couple of million former Labour voters voted for UKIP in the 2015 election. Really, if we want to be insulted in this way we can go to the Guardian or the BBC and the rest of the MSM.
Ed West does this two or three times a week and it need to stop. That aside, he makes a good point about pubs. However, the governing classes decided some decades ago that pubs were ‘a bad thing’, and have seized on Covid as an excuse to kill most of them forever.

Last edited 1 year ago by Fraser Bailey
Derek M
Derek M
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

You’re right there, West poses as a ‘conservative’ but he clearly isn’t. The title of this article using the word ‘extremism’ is appalling and disgraceful. He’s right about the importance of pubs though, even if for the wrong reason.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
1 year ago
Reply to  Derek M

To be fair, the Edster doesn’t necessarily write the headline. All he said in the article was populist Right-wing parties, in this case UKIP, and the cited article talks about ‘radical right’ support.
As it’s an academic paper it’s likely written by some Stalinist (I’ve not checked), to whom ‘radical right’ in effect means ‘anyone to the right of myself’. This would indeed encompass almost everybody, and quite a lot of Labour voters vis a vis the typical leftoid university parasite.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jon Redman
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Too true, but where will Ed go now that the Quislington Arms are closed forever? And the Remoaner’s Head faces a similar fate?

Carl Goulding
Carl Goulding
1 year ago

“So I’m not surprised by a new paper which links pub closures with voting for populist Right-wing parties, in this case UKIP.”…..I’m not surprised either, the paper was written by an academic affiliated to the London School of Economics and Political Science.

David Fitzsimons
David Fitzsimons
1 year ago

I do love the pub. One reason, among many, is that it is a place where I meet people with different opinions to mine and, after we debate them, we end up realising we are frequently more alike than we are different. And if we can’t agree to compromise we can at least agree to respect each other.
Apart from the splitters down the White Hart that is.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
1 year ago

I totally agree. Though there are many downsides to irresponsible drinking there is no doubting the importance of the pub, particularly in the development of British culture and community.

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
1 year ago

But pubs are beginning to come under attack now – apparently they’re ‘racist’, according to some lefties, anyway. Too many white people like them and not enough BAME folks visit them, or somesuch.

Quite what the complainers want done about this supposed ‘problem’ is unclear, but there’s clearly a determined attempt to make this country the most miserable one on earth.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago

All pubs should be closed down permanently as they are attended mostly by hideously white privileged male drunks talking sexist filth. Also you never see any pub with a trans or gender fluid/non-binary landperson running it either.

Aaron Kevali
Aaron Kevali
1 year ago

So true. Even gay bars in this country are inevitably run by white males. As another unherd article noted, lesbian bars are disappearing – will the war in minorities and women never end? Keep speaking truth to power Andrew, we need your bravery 😉

Last edited 1 year ago by Aaron Kevali
G Matthews
G Matthews
1 year ago

? You have clearly never spent much time in Soho

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
1 year ago

I thought trolling was reserved for the comments section?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

Being a Red Neck now, and am from London decades ago where I got drunk every night at the pub, then doing the same after moving to USA, in cheap and rough Country and Western jukebox bars, I can say my Right Wing views seem to have had some corrolation with getting drunk with other rednecks and similar British scum every day.

But as we know, correlation and causation are easily confused.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Two pints of Black & Tan, and make it snappy!

(Or how to start a fight in a Galway Pub).

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Alison Houston
Alison Houston
1 year ago

Funny, I was just glancing down the list of articles to read, rather bleary eyed and I thought this one was titled ‘More Pubes Less Extremism’. “ Must be something to do with hormones” I thought.

G Matthews
G Matthews
1 year ago

This is the most bogus straw man I have ever read. The last paragraph is absurd. Not only is the link between supporting UKIP and pubs closing demonstrably wrong (most UKIP supporters lived in places with very few muslims but many agreeable country pubs, UKIPs main support base was Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Devon, etc not Bradford or Blackburn) but to say that more pubs will equal less “extremism” leading to “an improvement in our politics” is simply a slur. UKIP was not an extremist group except for in the mind of the author, which is why they got over 4 million votes in one election from a broad swathe of the population. For extremists you might want to try Momentum or ISIS. It sounds like the authors idea of nice politics is where nobody disagrees and everyone goes along with his worldview like the lumpen proletariat they are.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

More than fifty years ago I discovered, much to my amazement, that if it’s erudite banter and conversation you are looking for, then head for the Pubs of Ireland.
Specifically to the West of Ireland, beyond the Shannon. Sadly nearly everything east is rapidly becoming a pastiche of the Home Counties, with predictably ‘evil’ results.

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
G Matthews
G Matthews
1 year ago

Yes, I was doing my ancestor search and it turns out one set of grandparents were poor tenant farmers in county monaghan, working for a Scottish absentee landlord and dying in the 1890s due to lack of medical attention, living in literally a mud hut in the field and burning peat for heat. Upon finding the place in google streetview all I can see now are largish farms with a new range rover on each (huge) driveway, parked right between the fake gothic columns of the house. There is no way Irish culture can survive in the East of Ireland with people like this.

Andrew Wood
Andrew Wood
1 year ago

I just so miss lunch at the pub, I don’t care at all about the theorising, I just want to go to the pub. It’s not political, it’s social.