Tuesday, 13 March 2012

More invertebrates spotted in Scotland

The Scottish Conservative Party has dropped its opposition to minimum unit pricing for alcohol, in a deal that would see it scrapped in five years if it fails to work. Now, it may be argued that north of the Border the Tories have become pretty much a political irrelevance, but it is hard to see how spineless me-too-ism will do anything to improve their electoral prospects. Maybe they would do better to make a stand against the tide of joyless neo-Prohibitionism that seems to run through the veins of Salmond’s administration.

And how will we be able to tell if minimum pricing has proved a “success” anyway? If alcohol problems in society have declined, then obviously it will receive the credit, even if many other factors have been at work. If they haven’t declined, then the call is bound to come, not for it to be scrapped, but to be intensified. For so many of today’s problems in society, the call comes “Doctor, doctor, the medicine isn’t working!” to which the response is always “Increase the dose, then, Nurse.”

12 comments:

  1. I'm still in two minds about minimum pricing for booze. On the one hand, it's not ultra-cheap white cider that is making our city centres a dangerous place to visit on Friday and Saturday nights. And If poor people want to drink their life into oblivion, that's their own choice.
    On the other hand, it is an addictive drug which does cause an amount of damage to society, in many ways. If the minimum price was kept as a tool to regulate alcohol on a base level, I don't have a massive problem with that, but I don't trust the politicians not to keep on upping the price every year in order to raise money for their pet projects. Drinks could easily be priced out of the range of working class people over 15 years, which would be completely wrong.

    But when you see shops selling bottles of vodka for six or seven pounds, you have to wonder who they are targeting. And of course supermarkets often have fantastic deals where they sell crates of lager at cost price, just to get customers into their stores.

    I do agree, that they are treating the cause not the symptoms, which is a fundamental issue with our democracy.

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  2. Obviously as with any such policy much depends on the level at which it is set. A minimum price at 30p a unit is a very different beast from one at 80p a unit. And duty and VAT in effect set a minimum price of sorts anyway.

    But to my mind any policy that sets a minimum price above the current median price paid for off-trade alcohol is grossly objectionable in the way it discriminates against the less well off.

    Also bear in mind that the study by the University of Sheffield that is used to underpin the argument for minimum pricing actually concludes that the most "beneficial" results would come from setting differential minimum prices for on- and off-trades, with that for pubs and bars more than twice as high.

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  3. Little by little prohibition comes in. When the beards wake up to it, when it affects the pint of vinegary murky pong with twigs in, it'll be too late.

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  4. Why don't they do a ground level survey to find out what genre of drinks are causing the most problems ? We all see plenty of broken booze bottles on the streets. Why don't they make a list of what brands are being slung onto the pavements, as an example ?
    Measures like these are a very blunt tool. Minimum pricing will not affect one iota groups going to bars and buying expensive bottles of Bacardi Breezers or San Miguel and causing trouble from bar to bar, or on the way home. These people must account for a disproportionate share of alcohol cost to society, at least in terms of policing and accidents.

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  5. Yes, alcohol-related disorder, and long-term alcohol-related health harm are two very different issues which only overlap to a limited extent. Yet they often seem to be conflated in policy-makers' minds.

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  6. @Saga
    An interesting point regarding a ground-level survey. My wife used to park her car in a car park near a Salvation Army hostel. You could usually count 30-odd cans or bottles lying around and they were almost exclusively White Ace and Tennent's Super.

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  7. So one by one you ban the "problem" products.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-16069913

    Then one day it's noticed the beards are no angels, and like a ruck when pissed too.

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  8. Eye, but "In reality, I suspect to a large extent the Real Ale Trail is being unfairly blamed for this." is clearly bullshit.

    Even old codgers with beards can get lairy when they've chucked too much "chislewits old peculiar" down 'em.

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  9. Cooking lager, re; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-16069913

    I didn't see any mention of violent behaviour in that article, nor of anything else wildly anti-social. Of course peeing on a platform isn't great, but you can see this hundreds a time a night in any city centre on a weekend.
    The behaviour they outlined is childs play compared to fight nights in a city. Did they even mention an incident of anybody getting punched ? How many people get lamped in your town/city centre on a Friday night ? I used to work in a city centre pub and there were at least two fights just in that pub every weekend and often more.

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  10. That's the excuse? The Rats are rough but not as rough as other rough types?

    I can tell you stories that would make your hair curl. I was in this boozer having a game of 'arras, This bunch of Rats walked in. One guy, the spit of Ronnie Barker asked for half a mild. Mild wasn't on. Turned into a warzone. Like Helmand Province.

    Me and the lager drinkers by the dart board fled in terror.

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  11. Dull response. You'll have to do better than that to get a reaction out of me. And I'll know not to bother to take you seriously any more.

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