Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Trollied Tuesday: Won't Somebody Think of the Publicans

This is a story from the Irish Independent: Vintners seek govt action to boost pub trade.

If you were thinking that the fact Irish pub owners need government help to survive it's one of the signs of the apocalypse, you'd be right. Economically speaking at least.

Partly it's just the fact that the publicans' lobby is a pretty powerful and influential one (something to do with Ireland being a small country where much politicking is conducted at a local level and the fact that publicans have lots of dosh and local sway). But the figures quoted don't look good.

The Vintners Federation of Ireland... says 4,800 pub workers have been laid off in the past year.

It says 80% of pubs experienced a fall in profits of at least 10% this summer and half have had to let staff go.

The thing is the loss of the pubs is not going to have much effect on people's drinking habits, but it's damn well going to have a detrimental effect on people's well-being.

Unfortunately the current Irish government is the sort of shower that almost defines the phrase couldn't run a piss-up in a brewery (worse than Brown? I very much fear it is that bad), so I doubt state intervention of the sort they want will really work. The current big economic policy, the National Asset Management Agency, is basically an excuse to dig out the charlatans, chancers, gombeens, spivs and sleveens who colluded in a disastrous debt-fuelled property bubble. As such it is not very popular.

It's not really my business, but a truly courageous policy would be to nationalise the banks, let the developers go bust (and prosecute fraud effectively). Then spend some of the money saved on a giant piss up.

At the very least, the government could try convince people that the patriotic thing to do for the Irish to do would be to embrace the old fashioned image of being always in the pub. Some might feel uncomfortable returning to old, not always wholly complimentary stereotypes, but it would surely be preferable to the crass consumerism of the Celtic Tiger years. Possibly some sort of advertising campaign, with a poster of, some suitably iconic and respected Irish figure (Gay Byrne, say, or Roy Keane or Brian O'Driscoll or Father Jack or anyone really as long as it isn't that utter tosser Bono. Or Michael fucking O'Leary) urging people: I want YOU to go the pub. What do you reckon the chances of success would be?

* You could nick this famous picture of a Kerryman (really), but it might rake up a few of the less pleasant aspects of nationalism.

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