Friday, 3 October 2008

The woman who waters the workers’ beer

Here’s a picture of Sally Keeble MP, who has sponsored the Private Members’ Bill calling for the introduction of minimum drink pricing. As I am not The Devil’s Kitchen, I will go no further than to call her a miserable cow.

But it struck me that this is a profoundly snobbish measure – the middle classes will still be able to jug themselves to oblivion on craft-brewed ales, chateau-bottled wines and single malt whiskies, but the poor will have to pay more for cheap crap, which is often all they can afford. It will, in practice, inflate the household bills of poor families while leaving the better-off completely unscathed. In short, it is a highly regressive measure – but of course, as we have seen with tobacco duty, self-proclaimed socialists have never been afraid to screw the poor financially.

Also, despite its declared intentions, surely minimum pricing will end up placing more emphasis on alcoholic strength, not less, as at the lower end of the drinks market there will be a much more direct association between price and strength. If it commands a price premium, stronger will be perceived as better to a much greater degree than at present.

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