Britain has often looked on inebriate MPs with indulgence, hence the many tales of encounters between boozy MPs and their detractors, often featuring Winston Churchill or Harold Wilson's deputy, George Brown, about whom the phrase '"tired and emotional" was invented. All amusing stuff. But as the fracas involving Eric Joyce in a Commons bar shows, drunken MPs are not always as entertaining as was Churchill when arguing with Lady Astor.
Razor-sharp insults are one thing but sharp elbows, or head-butts, are another, which is why the Speaker, John Bercow, has ordered a review of Parliament's drinking culture. No one expects Westminster, home to 19 bars and restaurants serving cut-price drinks, to go dry. But when MPs are debating ways to stop the poor from quaffing too much cheap booze, they could show some leadership on the subject by at least paying the same prices for drinks as the rest of us.