The recent defeat in the Commons of a proposal to give freedom to locals to decide about longer Sunday shopping hours defies belief. I understand that pious MPs want to keep Sunday special with space for religious worship and family meals. But there is plenty of time for that for those who want it, and having to prepare, serve and clear up a traditional Sunday lunch actually prevents one from taking advantage of the current shopping hours. How can Sunday be special if pubs are open, sporting fixtures are held, cinemas and concerts are there for entertainment, betting shops are open, internet shopping is going on apace, and all the vital services are running – police, travel, medical, utilities? Indeed, the government is leaning on doctors to work a 7-day week – when are they going to do their shopping? It is mostly male legislators who block longer hours. They probably never take responsibility for the weekly shop. For many women it is a feminist issue. If they work all week, Sunday is a good day to shop together with a partner or children, especially if decisions need to be taken about major purchases. Corner shops are worried about competition, and so they should be, because on the whole they do not measure up to larger stores.
It is the rank hypocrisy of the SNP that I don’t get. Scotland has longer shopping hours. Are they determined to make English voters beg them to go independent?