|low graphics version | feedback | help|
|You are in: Talking Point|
Friday, 18 August, 2000, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
Should politicians own up?
Tory leader William Hague has confessed to regularly putting away a staggering 14 pints of beer as a teenager.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Do you think this revelation shows that Mr Hague is one of the people, or could it be considered irresponsible for respected public figures to admit to drinking dangerous amounts of alcohol?
UK Cabinet Office Minister Mo Mowlam hit the headlines earlier this year when she owned up to experimenting with cannabis as a student.
I'm shocked - not too much about Mr Hague's laughable attempt at populism, that's not new, but at the fact that he seems to think this absurd and mad one could work. When will common culture stop worshipping alcohol? (I'm not specifically referring to the UK, my country still prides itself of having the about highest per head beer consumption in the world).
Confessions such as this make a political figure more human only if the public can empathise with them on other levels. Even if William Hague chased his daily 14 pints with a bottle of tequila I still don't think I'd feel anything in common with him.
In all honesty do we actually believe William Hague drunk so much? No more than we believe he regularly frequents Notting Hill dressed in jeans and a baseball cap.
Yes, let's have more honesty from politicians. Perhaps on matters relating to politics
would be better, though. Perhaps we can expect Hague to confess to not having a
clue how to run the Tory party, and Blair admitting that he is only interested in
staying in power, whatever it takes.
How pathetic! This country has enough problems of underage drinking, alcoholism and drunk driving, without the leader of the opposition boasting about his capacity for ale.
Its obvious to everyone except politicians that they are totally removed from everyday life in this country. Shallow efforts to appear like the common man leave them looking ridiculous and this is just another example.
Admitting antics of youthfulness is okay, unless one was trying to be a credible politician.
Hague just wanted to try to improve his image - in today's political arena that's no bad thing - but it again highlighted his lack of judgement. His comments were at least misguided, at worst utterly foolish. Once again he has proved he is lacking. Britain needs a credible opposition, whoever is in power. Unfortunately we are still waiting.
So Mr Hague used to drink lots of beer as a teenager, and he lived in the UK. Is that really newsworthy since most UK teenagers drink a lot of beer and then grow up? He didn't break the law, or take drugs - I can't see what all the fuss is about. He might as well come out with the shocking revelation that his mother used to cook him fishfingers.
Stuart Winchester, UK
Am I the only one who thinks that drinking 14 pints a day is remarkably stupid? I used to do so myself. But then I was an alcoholic. It nearly cost me my life.
I suppose the fact that he may have been out of his box might excuse him for making that nauseating speech when he was sixteen, but perhaps not!
Jonathan Bensley, Australia
Why do politicians have to "confess"? These "confessions" don't make them more human and if they want to bring out their past, then let them do so. It doesn't really matter what they did in their youth, what's important is that they are doing their job properly and not getting into trouble.
This was either an innocent comment which has been seized on by the media, or a deliberate and rather pathetic attempt to appear to be a 'man of the people'. In this age of unaccountable media power, spin is necessary for political survival (however much we loathe it). If this wasn't deliberate, he should have been more careful in what he said. If it was, it's obviously backfired. Either way, it demonstrates exceedingly poor judgement.
I don't know about Mr Hague drinking 14 pints. I can only think that anyone within earshot of that monotonous, sanctimonious voice as the beer went down would be the ones needing the 14 pints!
James Looseley, England
Why do people keep claiming that drinking a lot is the same as being a lout? I used to drink 10 pints and walk home without smashing anything, urinating in gardens, making excessive noise or any of the other antisocial "habits" of those that are trying to impress their mates by showing off how "hard" they are.
Benj'min Mossop, Britain
Do we want to hear politician's confessions? Of course we do, we're a voyeuristic nation! Look at the success of Big Brother, and the massive sales of magazines like Heat, the National Enquirer, Hello and OK. Politicians are in the public eye, so we want to know all the dirt. I admit that using confessions of past indiscretions to score cheap political points is a trifle pathetic but, although we may not like to admit it, most of us love a bit of salacious gossip.
Take heart, it is a lot easier to swallow his "14 pints" than his policies.
just a little note; you're supposed to compete with Tony - not his son...
Richard Marriott, England
Excuse me the pontificators amongst you but if he did criticise drunken behaviour it is the kind that causes offence, damage or injury - and Mr Hague was not arrested for any offence so I think those of you calling him a hypocrite have missed the point entirely. Better to have Mr Hague making idle boasts than Mr Blair making endless empty promises.
This attempt to seem more like "Joe Ordinary" has clearly backfired. Unfortunately for Mr Hague, the impression he has created is of an anorak trying desperately to be cool - and then failing miserably. Also, I'm not sure people vote for politicians who have dubious claims to drinking 14 pints a day - it's the politics that matter.
Nice one William! Blair can do what he likes with an alternative like this.
Obviously this was a minor aside made in an otherwise pretty mundane and routine interview. The fact that it was picked up by the main stream media and blown up out of all proportion to its real news worthiness, should have been predictable... While I neither condemn nor praise Hague for his youthful drinking prowess, it shows an appalling lack of political judgement in even bringing it up. And that tells me more about the man than all the policies he espouses.
It's good that MPs can confess their 'ales', it shows some kind of human nature, with a sense of humour. I doubt very much that Hague would even begin to dream of his confessions in "The Economist", but in a lad's mag, he has counterbalances the boredom of politics with an added few jars. Mowlem as a "sixties hippie chick" and then putting a suggestion forward to decriminalise cannabis seems more down to earth and in touch with the people.
I really have two queries re Hague's expose.
1. Did the drinking of so much ale cause him to have a total lack of personality?
2. If it didn't, then perhaps he should go back to drinking?
Is this a last ditch attempt by the Tory spin-doctors to make Hague 'appealing' and 'one of the boys'?
We do not want to hear about these confessions. They are irrelevant. They will backfire. Loutish behaviour is on the increase and to admit to it proudly makes it acceptable. How can measures against it then be justified? Show you are good at your job, not "one of the people". Please.
Steven Douglas, Scotland
We can all come up with a tale from the past to help us integrate or be seen as 'one of the gang' when the occasion requires it. William Hague is unfortunately trying desperately to appeal to a sector of the community that has traditionally been Labour rather than Conservative. However the tactic is unlikely to have the desired effect as labour people see it for what it is, and conservative people writhe in disgust at his antics. Why doesn't he establish his personal and party values and then stick to them, and let us make up our minds about him and his party, compared to the other parties. The amorphous soup of political parties is causing apathy among the young and disappointment in the system among the older voters.
14 pints during an entire day is nothing much. I used to down 10 pints of snakebyte in the space of about 6 hours and that was without doing any hard physical work in between. Bitter as opposed to lager is less likely to make the drinker drunk and aggressive, and is generally not fizzy like lager. I find it entirely believable that he could drink this amount, but so what? Does anybody really care what he did back then, any more than you readers care that I used to drink snakebyte?
What ARE you doing, Mr.Hague? You should only ever play the spin game if you're good at it - which you are not. Stop trying to compete with Blair's machine and start working on honest, down-to-earth policies that have relevance to the voters that you REALLY need to win back - those of Middle England. The 14-pint-a-day brigade probably always vote Labour, anyway (if they can make it to the polling booth!).
Chris Green, UK
I believe this sort of 'confession'
from politicians trying to appear
'one of the lads' is completely
irresponsible. It merely goes to
prove that the standards of people
taking up roles in public life are falling
far short of that which is required.
Instead of trying to maintain good standards of
ethics and support for the very fabric of
our society, they are more interested in
'playing to the crowd'.
I for one have grave doubts as to the
suitability of these people to run the country.
I, and I am sure, many of my countrymen
are sick and tired of hearing about the
'free loading', junkets at tax payers expense,
and idiotic statements-totally
distanced from the majority of right
minded people thinking.
Its bad enough having to listen to politicians drone on about their politics, save us from having to listen to their boring personal lives.
Finally: A politician who remembers he was human once...
Neil Aquino, Texas, USA
Poor William Hague and his spin-doctors must think that by talking about his youthful drinking habits of downing 14 pints per working day he is somehow lodging himself with the ordinary people. Few people in Britain would believe the GQ story. I would suggest that the Australian expression of a two-pot steamer would be a more accurate description of Willie's drinking capacity.
What politicians did in the past is completely irrelevant and even possibly harmful to the running of a country as powerful as ours. Apart from anything else, it very often sets a bad example for our youth.
If he is trying to impress us with his honesty, the obvious exaggeration of 14 pints a day does him no credit.
Oh please! William Hague wouldn't know what to do with a pint of beer even if it came up and bit him.
Who is he trying to impress anyway?
Tony Donaldson, UK
So William Hague has a past just like the rest of us "normal" people. Last night I was with several people who downed about 10 pints in a few hours. It is easy to see how someone could get through 14 pints over a whole (long) day's work without too much effort or getting "drunk and incapable". At least Hague has the ability to admit his past, unlike Blair who has changed almost every principle he ever professed!
Have most of your respondents actually read the interview? WH explained his 14 pints simply as necessary refreshment when delivering beer to working men's clubs in Yorkshire. There wasn't anything about being a lager lout or drinking to get drunk.
WH comes over as a relatively honest guy, trying to give an answer which wouldn't leave him open to snide comments - he seems to have failed, however! How sad that these critics have such a jaundiced view.
I'm absolutely amazed that anyone actually believes him. To me this epitomises the way in which Billy Fizz has lost touch with reality, or else he realises that he can spout whatever fantasy he wants
because nobody believes a word he says anyway.
Andrew Baker, England
It all depends whether it was lager or bitter! If he drank a good honest Northern bitter that's fine. But if he drank some namby-pamby lager then he should hide his head in shame!
He just sounds like any other teenager to me, nothing to be ashamed of here.
Thomas Webb (16), Belgium
Watch the footage of Hague's "Young Conservative" Debut. Then Look at the claims he has made.
"The rough boys won't like you any more for saying it Willy!"
Must be a dry news day in the UK
when anybody cares what Wet Willie
did 30+ years ago, let alone writes
The best way to woo voters is for Hague to re-think the far right policies he is touting, bring himself back in line with mainstream thinking and convince the electorate that he is worthy of election. Whoever advised him to take part in this stunt should be treated with caution. Central Office seems to be slow on the uptake, badly co-ordinated, following faulty thinking and not at all in touch with realityż
Personally I'd be quite happy to know that politicians are not just the stuffy suits they would like us to believe. I think Tony Blair should bring a keg into Prime Ministers Question Time and challenge him!
No amount of drunken "spin" can hide little Billy's nauseating
desire to please the jingoistic blue-rinse brigade with mantra
that remains in the 19th century!
A Wood, UK
We are all human and have all in some way or other at some time in our past done things that seem a little silly in hindsight.
Why should we expect our politicians to be more than human? As long as Mr Hague's drinking past or Mo Mowlan's experiments with cannabis do not affect their ability to perform their public duties and responsibilities then I see no conflict of interest.
Of course, the question of whether such confessions justify front-page news is another matter entirely...
I suppose a combination of the political "silly season", a slowish domestic news day and William Hague's desperation to get into the headlines have all coincided to give us this daft "when I were a lad" story. Monty Python did it first - and better! Stop that - that's silly.
Actually, who really cares about the drinking feats of Mr Hague? The entire story reeks of the same old political spin - just like wearing a dodgy baseball cap would make him a man of the people.
The politicians can't win either way. If they try and correct flaws they themselves once had they are branded hypocrites. If they confess to prior shortcomings they are blasted for promoting whatever it was they once did. At least Hague and Mowlam have shown they are human like the rest of us.
Paul R, UK
Quite frankly, who really cares what he did during his summer vacations when he was young. Surely the current political issues and policies should be more important?
I don't think it matters what they have done when they are young, as long as they are doing a good job now. This makes Hague seem normal and it shows he is the same as all of us. What are we supposed to do, tell all teenagers to be careful just in case they become leader of the Tory party?
Great. So Hague with a credibility gap the size of the English Channel tries to gain some "lad" votes by admitting to being a bit of a boozer when he was younger. What a superb example he is setting to the youngsters of today. Once again, and probably not for the last time, he's having difficult breathing because of the sheer number of feet in his mouth.
I think it just makes him sound more human, unlike Tony Blair. The way Tony Blair goes on you would think he was never young and never made mistakes. Well Blair's made a lot of mistakes since he became PM, which have been brought to light by the good opposition which we have. To the person who said that they have never seen a 15-year-old that could drink 14 pints, I take it you don't get out much. If you believe that a 15-year-old can't drink very much then you must also believe that Tony Blair is good for the UK!
Paul Charters, England
Poor old Bill. Who can blame the guy? Blair starts preaching to the masses about underage drinking louts, then his son turns out to be one of these "devils". But instead of pointing out the stupidity of Blair's generalisations, the public pat him on the back for being a dad. What's an opposition leader to do? One minute the country is baying for the blood of heavy drinkers, the next minute everyone is having a good old laugh about it. I still don't believe him though. Next thing he'll be showing us his tattoo collection (Now that WOULD be cool)!
Does this mean that William Hague endorses underage drinking to excess and the flagrant flouting of the laws which he professes to uphold?
Robin Sayer, England
The Conservative Party could win the
next election by promising us duty-free
'party days', where we could all
drink 14 pints in a day.
We could then invade a country or
two whose football teams are
clearly not as good as ours.
Of course, we'd lose - but Hey!
Who would care?
It would probably be the ref.'s fault
Not funny, William, and not clever. Stop trying to gain votes by appealing to the lowest common denominator and start being your own man.
While you're at it, have a good look at your recent bigoted statements and ask yourself whether this is the way you want this country to go. As a political leader you have responsibilities not just to the (beer-drinking) majority but also to the many minorities. Your populist antics help foster an environment where hate-crimes prosper.
Guru Shenoy, United States
Oh William, just when we were beginning to forget that spotty 16 year old, wowing Mrs Thatcher - you bring it all back again with your 'the naughtiest little boy' story!
Hooray! At last! A politician who can "take his ale". Our great new leader has spoken, Britain is saved...
Er excuse me, anyone... am I on the right planet here...?
George W Bush said it best when asked about allegations of drug use.
"When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible."
Nice one Billy! Now how about pledging to cut taxes on beer - so that the rest of us can afford to drink 14 pints a day.
I haven't read the original interview in GQ
but I have read the story on the BBC web site quite carefully,
and I think someone should ask Hague what the 14 pints were pints of?
Beer, shandy or maybe just lemonade?
Politicians should own up, but they should also make it clear what it is that they are owning up to!
Well to be honest, their honesty is a breath of fresh air... just as long as it does not turn out to be "trendy and hip", like New Labour was trying to be around the Brit awards a few years ago. I've nothing against people doing those kind of things when they are young as long as they don't try to sound "cool" because of it.
So maybe little Billy is saying any old rubbish to try and get into power. At least he isn't promising everything and delivering nothing. Now who does that remind me of?
18 replies from men, 2 from women. Wee Willie seems to have been successful in reaching out to The Chaps. Perhaps someone should remind him that the majority of the electorate is female.
I can't see the point of this. Bragging that
you used to drink 14 pints of beer a
day seems to be something that would
impress immature youths but is hardly
something to be admired by right thinking
I can believe William Hague did sink all those pints or he wouldn't have had the audacity to make that speech he did at 16! Perhaps he should have a night of the tiles with Blair's son. They'd get on great!
Anything is better than Blair's squeaky-clean androids.
It doesn't sound like Hague was a lager lout. Please do not make the mistake of assuming drunkenness equals violence. So he drank beer, and Mo Mowlam had ONE puff of a spliff. People do. As long as they aren't doing themselves or anyone else any harm, who cares?
What is he doing saying things like this. If foreign countries think that the UK people consider 14 pints to be a lot we'll be the laughing stock of the world. Come on William, at least boast of an impressive figure for an all day total!
Nick Willhoft, UK
14 pints of lager a day? Nice one. Clearly I'll take him much more seriously now.
No we don't want to hear "confessions" from inadequate politicians who believe that the ability to drink 14 pints of beer somehow defines them as one of us. They clearly do not want to be one of us or they wouldn't have gone into something as trivial as politics in the first place.
I'm waiting for one of these social misfits to admit they were once capable of doing a proper job.
By the way, did anyone actually believe Hague?
As far as William Hague's revelations are concerned, it just reinforces my belief that most politicians talk pure rubbish at the best of times. This PR fiasco seems on a par with his great "baseball cap" episode.
Gee, I was feeling a bit down then I read the
"Billy Fizz" thing on the BBC site and there were
tears of laughter streaming down my face. This guy
Hague is priceless - you need to cherish him.
Colin Rice, UK
It seems to me that William Hague will say anything to get into power claiming he's one of the common people. Look at all the other things he's said lately.
I don't really care what politicians get
up to - all I want is proof that they are
good at their job, have been voted in
democratically and can run the country.
Anyway - there's no way he could drink
that much I've never seen such a useless
man (bar John Redwood) kid themselves
that people would actually vote for them
- He's got no personality whatsoever!
I can't believe this man's outrageous lies. It just seems to sum up his whole attitude to politics up. Lie as much as possible to make yourself even vaguely respectable. I don't any 15 year old that could drink 14 pints without curled up in a corner of Leicester Square, particularly if you were doing a tiring job - you'd get drunk quicker.
ONLY 14 pints ... what a wimp!
Richard Winter, UK
What does William Hague think he is playing at? One moment he is complaining
that the government is not doing enough to stem the tide of drunken louts and
teenage delinquency. The next moment he is boasting about being a 15-year-old
lager lout. I thought leaders were meant to be role models. Another symptom of
the decay of moral standards in this country perhaps?
08 Aug 00 | UK Politics
Hague: I drank 14 pints a day
16 Jan 00 | UK
Politicians feel the heat over drugs
Other Talking Points:
Links to other Talking Point stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy