Should drinking alcohol be banned in parliament?
Matthew Jukes, wine taster and founder of Jukes Cordialities, says YES
The most notorious bill in the Palace of Westminster is the bar bill.
It’s no secret: while parliament’s bars are temporarily closed during lockdown, in normal times our MPs are knocking it back, left, right and centre.
Don’t get me wrong, I am as keen on a glass of wine as the next person. But there is a time and a place. At work, while endeavoring to run the country, isn’t one of them.
Our country is navigating uncommonly choppy waters, and that’s even before considering the ongoing fisticuffs at Number 10. The past weeks are further proof that we do not need alcohol coursing through the veins of our MPs and their advisers — not now, not ever.
There is ample time, after the working day, to head home to support local bars and restaurants (that is, whenever our esteemed policymakers allow them to open again). Work hard and, if you wish, play hard.
But please, MPs, refrain from drinking on the job. The country really, urgently, needs you to have a clear head.
Benedict Spence, freelancer writer and whisky-lover, says NO
Before we begin, let me just me just say that I know: alcohol is bad for you, and the busybodies of this land have gone to great lengths to curb it — especially in and around the office, in the name of so-called “professionalism”.
It is rich that policymakers who do so much to reduce drinking have bars in their office space, subsidised by the taxpayer.
But endeavouring to halt drinking on the parliamentary estate would be counter-productive. Social drinking is one of the few things that allow people of all stripes and persuasions to interact more easily. It is a vital source of relaxation for those in high-stress jobs. We want more of that — more socialising, more relaxation — especially between politicians who exist in particularly febrile, unfriendly times.
Pubs and bars are levellers, and let people communicate in a different and often more progressive manner than the stiff, uncompromising bounds of the chamber or office. More compromise is found over a pint than a coffee — and that’s what politics needs.
Main image credit: Getty