Has there ever been a more pathetic lobbying body than the Portman Group ? Supported by the major drinks companies, these people are the Vichy Government of hooch. Supposedly representing the industry, their MO is to throw themselves on the mercy of the court on even the most insane of charges. On one side we have the Neo-Prohibitionists, lying, deranged, fanatics every one of them, while on the other there's the Portman Group, hand-wringling, snivelling appeaseniks.
Yet, just when you thought they'd hit rock bottom, they call in the blasting crew. Or rather the no-blasting crew. Yep - what's worse than appeasing Neo-Prohibitionist loonies ? Appeasing Neo-Prohibitionist loonies and hoplophobes.
Remember, if this sort of thing isn't stamped out now, then.... what exactly ? Will citizens of previously good character be driven to start hosing down pubs with automatic weapons ?
Actually, of course, there is a link here. Both the Neo-Prohibitionist and the hoplophobes - where they are not, in fact, the same people - deny human agency. Vitamin XXX makes people kick other people to death, just like the rays from a Beretta can drive even the most pacific of individuals into a killing rage. Evil doesn't exist - except in the form of Big Business and certain inanimate objects. We're all victims, and only Big Government can save us. But where does the Portman Group fit into the wider picture ? Well, here we have a body that has tried to adapt to the onslaught of absolute fruitcakes by internalising the whole laundry list of criticisms haurled at it. No charge has been too silly for the Portman Group not to take seriously, and no opponent has been too deranged for them not to reach out to. The results ? Ludicrous charges have been given spurious credibility and dyed-in-the-wool fanatics have been allowed to posture as respectable commentators, and what exactly has the Portman Group got in return ? Nada. In short, the Portman Group is the perfect example of the philosophy of the Tory modernisers in action, and about as succesful too.