Alastair Campbell backs review of 24-hour drinking

All-day alcohol licensing laws brought in under Labour should be reconsidered, the party’s former spin doctor has suggested.

Labour introduced 24-hour drinking in 2005 amid hopes that the new laws would create a continental style ‘café-culture’ in the UK.

But Alastair Campbell said he “never quite bought” the idea and a “proper alcohol strategy would cover a review of it”.


Mr Campbell used to drink heavily but now supports the charity Alcohol Concern.

Speaking to Total Politics magazine he said he had asked the Health Minister at the time: “‘Do you really think we’re going to become a cafe culture like France or Italy, when you’ve got our climate, our culture, all the rest of it?’

“I never quite bought that it would work.”


He added: “A proper alcohol strategy would cover a review of it. There are now twice as many places where you can buy alcohol than there were in the 1950s and 1960s.

“Some of that’s down to the 24-hour licensing: The licensing regulations don’t have to take in the impact on public health. They should.”

He added that he could see the law changing in the future to pre-2005 closing times.


Mr Campbell was previously Director of Communications at Downing Street, and although he left before the alcohol licensing change was brought in, he has previously said the idea had been “mooted for some time”.

In 2010 Labour grandee Roy Hattersley said the 24-hour drinking laws were a “terrible mistake”.

Writing in a national newspaper he criticised the naivety behind the move, saying it was a “fashionable theory of the time, no doubt very popular at North London dinner parties”.

But he added: “For every family shopper who takes home a bottle of Beaujolais to enjoy with Sunday lunch, several teenagers prepare for a riotous night out by buying whatever is on ‘special offer’.”

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