It’s like shooting fish in a barrel these days I know, but after being alerted to this by a fellow blogger, I couldn’t let it pass without comment.
It’s one of those classic weasels whereby if you read to the end of the piece, you eventually get the true facts. But journos know that most people read the headline and the first paragraph. If you did that here, you could only come away with the very clear impression that Wetherspoons is going to start serving – as the headline says – ‘beer for breakfast’, from 7am.
The only trouble is, that’s not true:
- Wetherspoons will NOT be serving alcohol when they open at 7am – they won’t be serving alcohol till 9am – meaning the headline is factually inaccurate:
- Wetherspoons ALREADY serve alcohol from 9am – so this is not news – in terms of pursuing its anti-drink agenda, there is actually no story here. Wetherspoons is NOT extending the hours during which it serves alcohol, even though the story is desperately trying to make you think they are.
So far, so Daily Mail. But the reason I had to write this piece was the following sentence:
“The new early hours are one result of the controversial shift to 24-hour licensing laws that has also coincided with a rise in concern about under-age drinking.”
Even by the Mail’s standards, this is a masterclass in deceit and distortion, and deserves to be dissected and studied carefully.
Firstly, its place in the article seems odd. Why are we suddenly talking about underage drinking when we were just talking about breakfast in Spoons? Read it quickly – as most of us do – and you’ll think that Spoons opening for breakfast is going to encourage underage drinking. This is not what the sentence says, and it wouldn’t make sense of it did now we’ve established alcohol won’t even be served at breakfast time. But if it’s not trying to do that, why is it here? It’s actually irrelevant in this story – it’s part of an entirely different story. Given that alcohol is not being served, the whole area of licensing laws and ’24 hour drinking’ is irrelevant to the story – this breakfast move has nothing to do with liberalised licensing hours whatsoever. This point is only here to create an entirely false association between Wetherspoons and under-age drinking.
Secondly, look carefully at the sentence itself – it links two entirely separate concepts – 24 hour licensing laws and underage drinking. It cleverly uses the word ‘coincided’ because there is no evidence whatsoever that what they refer to as “24 hour licensing laws” have had any impact on underage drinking, but still, the link is forged.
And finally, there’s that beautiful weasel of ‘a rise in concern about underage drinking’
What’s that you say? Under-age drinking is rising? Oh hang on, no, that’s not what you said is it? Because under age drinking is not rising, and you know it’s not rising. In fact every single survey conducted since the new licensing laws were introduced, such as those surveys discussed here
, shows that underage drinking is FALLING.
But you say ‘concern’ over underage drinking is rising? It is, is it? Among whom? And why? Wouldn’t have anything to do with the Daily Mail creating a scare story where none exists, would it?
Take a bow Sean Poulter. Even by the standards of your colleagues, this is a brilliant piece of shit smearing. If it weren’t so evil, I could almost admire it.
Fortunately, most of the commenters on the article have seen through your spin. Apart from some vile, bigoted comments about people on benefits, no one can really see what the supposed problem is in this (non) story – and this is Daily Mail readers we’re talking about. Maybe there’s some hope for us after all…