One of the aims of New Labour’s licensing reforms was to improve public order by staggering the hours at which pubs closed, thereby alleviating the chaos that could be caused by large numbers of people exiting pubs simultaneously. It was said that under the existing rules, pub-goers drank against the clock, consuming alcohol quickly before last orders and returning to the street intoxicated, energetic and thirsty for more. Under a liberalised system, they were expected to drink at their own pace and leave when they were ready to go home. For Tony Blair, who pushed the reforms through in the face of significant opposition, it was not only a question of public order but of liberty. ‘The law-abiding majority who want the ability, after going to the cinema or theatre say, to have a drink at the time they want should not be inconvenienced,’ he said. ‘We shouldn’t have to have restrictions that no other city in Europe has, just in order to do something for that tiny minority who abuse alcohol, who go out and fight and cause disturbances. To take away that ability for all the population – even the vast majority who are law abiding – is not, in my view, sensible’ (Daily Mail 2005).