The Daily Mail* is often derided for its liking for hysterical scare stories about the dangers of alcohol (although these are occasionally leavened with pieces about the health benefits of the odd glass of red wine). However, it has exceeded even its own standards with this article.
It purports to be a review of a book entitled Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnston. Now, the author admits to being a former alcoholic, so that doesn’t augur well. But the reviewer – Roger Lewis – falls into the same category, and ends up regurgitating pretty much every anti-drink cliché ever invented.
For a start, we are told that “drink is 44 per cent more affordable in real terms than it was in 1980”, which is basically completely untrue unless you use a perverse interpretation of statistics that isn’t applied in any other sphere.
He then goes on to say:
I also concur with her that ‘alcohol is where tobacco was 40 years ago’ and that when at last we fully accept the links between booze and breast, oesophageal and colorectal cancers, we can start applying to the drinks industry the lessons learned on tobacco control, concerning price, advertising and access.Smoking-ban supporting beer lovers, have you read that?
Even worse, he then bizarrely quotes himself to say:
In the long run, it will be to everyone’s benefit if Prohibition comes back - says Roger Lewis, now teetotal but hitherto a proud drinker in the W. C. Fields class.His blanket statement that “It is particularly abhorrent that women are encouraged to drink” demonstrates a remarkably sexist and patronising attitude. And there is a general implication that we are seeing an out-of-control tide of alcohol consumption, whereas in reality it has been consistently falling for the past decade. A worse piece of journalism is hard to imagine.
* People are always eager to demonise the Daily Mail, but it’s by no means unique in its negative attitude to alcohol. Over the years, I’ve linked to several nasty, dishonest articles in the Independent and the Guardian, and only recently the Times had a particularly intolerant piece from Alice Thomson praising lifestyle fascism, fortunately hidden behind the Murdoch paywall. As far as I can see, the only newspapers that seem willing to regularly publish pieces taking a positive attitude to alcohol and pubs are the Daily Telegraph and the Sun. Draw from that whatever conclusion you wish.