What a weird, twisted bunch temperance campaigners were. They didn't want to see pubs improve. Oh no. They wanted them to remain miserable drinking dens so that they could campaign against them more easily. It seems to be the main reason they kept pushing the local veto polls when it became clear that no more than a handful of districts would ever vote to go dry.
Why did the veto polls stop pubs improving? Because the threat of having your pub snatched away from you once every three years was a huge disincentive to making any improvements.
"SCOTLAND'S PLEA FOR IMPROVED PUBL1C-HOUSES.
The improved public-house is the bete noir of the enemies of the Trade. Although the so-called Scottish (Temperance) Act of 1913 has failed, and has resulted in not one licence being permanently extinguished, it has succeeded in one particular it has kept the licensed houses of Scotland relatively antiquated and unimproved. From the point of view of the rigid teetotaler, therefore, it has by no means been abortive.
It has for some years been obvious to any student of the liquor position in Scotland that matters cannot remain where they are, moribund, in the rut of the teetotalers' making. The Scottish Royal Commission in its Majority Report dealt the Act of 1913 a severe body blow, but refrained from giving it the complete knock-out. "Let it go on yet a little while longer," they said in effect, "for peradventure wisdom in the matter will arise from the people themselves."
Meanwhile, Lord Salvesen, Chairman of the Scottish Public-House Reform League, has loosened the controversial cat amongst the teetotal pigeons by addressing to Members of Parliament two questions. The first asked whether they favour legislation for the improvement of public-houses on the basis that such premises should receive a definite security of tenure so long as they are properly conducted; the second asks whether they favour abolition of the triennial Local Veto polls. We doubt not that of those to whom the questionnaire was addressed a number will be engaged in giving "no reply." Others, if they represent Scottish constituencies, will probably be seeking some "safety first" answers in an endeavour successfully to skate over the thin ice which Lord Salvesen has prepared for their doubtful enjoyment.
But something must be done. All constructive, proposals for reform have been sidetracked for many years past; so far as the improvement of existing licensed houses and of new ones is concerned, stagnation has prevailed. Meanwhile, the triennial polls have confessedly become a dead letter, from which not even the centenary of teetotalism and the "seven wise men of Preston" were capable of reviving them."
Brewers' Journal 1934, page 246.
I must find out when (if ever) the idiot local veto polls were stopped. They couldn't still be continuing, could they?