I am on the prepare to London this week and my fellow vacationers will know precisely the place they’re from the sounds they hear, by which I imply click on, hiss and gurgle. They’ll hear these sounds as a result of my go to to England can be marked by the official opening of a can of M&S gin and tonic. Good.
The explanation I’ll solely drink G&T in England and never in Scotland is as a result of I’m a regulation abiding man and the regulation says you need to not, completely should not, drink alcohol on a ScotRail prepare, however it may be executed. if the prepare is English. So I’ll comply with this rule and preserve my G&T in my bag till I alter in Carlisle and the border is behind me. Naturally, I am a bit apprehensive that my G&T can be lukewarm by this level, however I am keen to take that threat to implement the regulation.
After all, the explanation we now have the rule in Scotland, keep in mind, is as a result of ScotRail launched it in November 2020 throughout the pandemic. With the heavy solemnity that was prevalent then and nonetheless is, ScotRail mentioned they needed everybody who traveled with them to take action in a protected surroundings and that folks be much less prone to put on masks over their noses and mouths or watch official individuals. distance between individuals once they had a number of. In different phrases, the rule was to cease the unfold of the virus.
There’s one thing else you may keep in mind about that point, which is that some individuals – together with me sipping a glass or two – warn that it is comparatively straightforward to introduce such guidelines, however it might be a lot more durable to do away with them, and due to this fact it is confirmed. In a tweet final week, ScotRail mentioned that “we now have agreed with the Scottish Authorities that we are going to preserve the alcohol ban in place for the foreseeable future.”
Let’s learn it once more, it will not take lengthy: “We’ve got agreed with the Scottish Authorities that we are going to preserve our present alcohol ban for the foreseeable future.” That is all. Nothing else. There isn’t any purpose. There isn’t any excuse. No clarification is required as to why a rule that was clearly, in their very own phrases, launched for one particular purpose remains to be required, even when the explanation now not applies. Declared however not defined.
I perceive that a few of you welcome this transfer, maybe since you’ve seen drunken habits on Scottish trains, and I perceive that – I noticed it too. I consider a man who was driving from Aberdeen to London at evening and was throwing up profusely and colorfully in his pint by 3am. Or the man on the final prepare from Edinburgh who peed loudly and with out apology on the ground. Or the person—like me, a Scot who lives removed from house—who boarded Southampton in Glasgow, flopped into the seat subsequent to him, opened the primary of his six packs, turned to me at the beginning of a 400-mile journey and mentioned, menacingly, “okay ?” I believe all of us have had an analogous expertise.
However, as embarrassing because it all is, dangerous habits was not the clear purpose for the ban on consuming on ScotRail trains: the rule was put in place as a result of it was thought it might assist cease the unfold of the virus. Chances are you’ll or might not agree with this, however a minimum of there was a proof, and this, it appears to me, is without doubt one of the first guidelines of excellent public coverage: if you’re going to do one thing, clarify why you’re doing it.
Sadly, by asserting the extension of the ban, ScotRail violated this essential rule. David Simpson, ScotRail’s director of service supply, mentioned the ban was “notably profitable in curbing a number of the delinquent habits that alcohol may typically trigger in some companies.” However that was not the explanation for the ban. Is that this the explanation for the extension?
In that case, we need to know extra about ScotRail’s concepts, and we need to see the proof. For starters, it appears to me that the rule is broadly ignored – simply ask Mhairi “Tennents” Black. It additionally appears to me that the prepare workers have neither the need nor the flexibility to implement it (why ought to they? What about you?). Additionally it is honest to ask if there has really been a decline in delinquent habits, how large it’s, and why ScotRail believes the decline is brought on by the alcohol ban. In different phrases, we are actually violating the second rule of excellent public coverage, which is that coverage ought to be primarily based on proof, not assertions.
Different guidelines are violated right here, one among which is that public coverage have to be efficient. Anybody who rode the final prepare on Friday evening can let you know that nothing can cease individuals from gaining power after which getting on the prepare. And the causes of delinquent habits and drunkenness in Scotland run fairly deep – ScotRail telling you that you may’t be delinquent or drunk on a prepare actually does little, if something, to vary that.
There’s additionally a rule – and that is maybe crucial – that any public coverage have to be proportional. That man throwing up at evening in London, or urinating on the final prepare out of Edinburgh, fairly nasty issues, however uncommon. Most individuals drink on the prepare with out incident, but their proper to drink is forfeited by a uncommon occasion. I notice this sounds just like the squeal of a middle-class man being denied a G&T, however the level stays the identical: it’s disproportionate to remove a proper that belongs to everybody as a result of somebody abuses it on occasion.
Extra broadly, ScotRail and the Scottish authorities also needs to contemplate what the ban says about us. It says that the Scots can’t be trusted with their habits. It says that on the slightest scent of alcohol, the Scots flinch or lash out. It goes to point out that trains are simply locations the place Scots with shiny beer on their lips can combat one another. Whereas a few of that is true, it’s largely not.
I am not suggesting that we should always ignore the Scottish alcohol drawback – after all we should not – however the thought of an “alcohol-free” zone on trains as a way of fixing alcohol issues is simply as nonsensical as the thought of a smoke-free zone as a way of combating alcohol. with smoking. The most recent smoking knowledge launched final week reveals that the variety of Scots quitting or attempting to give up smoking has dropped considerably. In different phrases, you may’t simply declare that we’re “free” of booze or cigarettes, you need to first take care of the explanation why we bask in them.
Does ScotRail perceive this? Scottish authorities? I doubt it. However a minimum of whereas I am pissed about it on the prepare to London on Wednesday, I can rummage by my bag for a can of M&S G&T. I can open it and preserve the press and hiss. After which I can gently sip it because the nation passes me by from the window. England after all. England.
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