Thursday 26 August 2010

Nutts to drinkers

When he was sacked as the government’s chief drugs adviser last year, Professor David Nutt was widely portrayed as someone who had had the temerity to stand up for a liberal, common-sense approach and had been punished for his outspokenness. But it was pointed out at the time that he was not so much pro-drugs as viscerally anti-alcohol, and this is underlined by his latest thoughts on alcohol policy, which have been given a thorough fisking by the Filthy Smoker on the Devil’s Knife blog.

Like many in the anti-drink lobby, he deliberately misinterprets the concept of real terms prices, and I’m sure drinkers will give a warm welcome to his proposal that the price of alcoholic drinks should be “gradually” tripled over a five-year period. Oh joy, the £10 pint beckons!

Nine months further on, this suggests that the government of the day were quite right to give him the boot as he is clearly an extreme neo-Prohibitionist and not someone who should be given any say in the formulation of public policy. As the FS says, “I never thought I'd sympathise with Alan Johnson but I'm starting to see why he sacked this dolt.”


  1. I thought he sounded quite sensible at the time but if he come up with rubbish like that bollocks to him.

  2. Well, in the piece I linked to from last year, Brendan O'Neill said "Professor Nutt explicitly said that the government’s attacks on cannabis are a ‘distraction from getting alcohol misuse under control’."

    There may be a strong case for legalising cannabis and other currently illegal drugs, but as long as its supporters seek to advance their argument by saying "alcohol is worse" then I'm not really likely to lift a finger to help them.

  3. Well as a smoker and I do not direct this comment at the more easy going types, no offence meant,but we told you so.

  4. I would remind Anon that I at least, while widely dismissed as a Cassandra and a prophet of doom, was saying this well before either the smoking ban came into force or this blog was started.

    "Opposing a smoking ban is the front line of the fight to protect your ability to visit pubs and drink alcohol. The enemy tanks are on your neighbour’s lawn, and it won’t be long before they head your way. If you believe that, having conceded a smoking ban, there would be Peace in Our Time for such pubs as remained, you are sadly deluding yourself."

  5. What Ed said. I agreed with everything Nutt said about Ecstasy - but when he was laying into the panic-mongering, wildly authoritarian prohibitionists on illicit drugs it somehow didn't occur to me that he himself might be a panic-mongering, wildly authoritarian prohibitionist on alcohol. (If only that was why he'd been sacked.)

  6. @Anon

    With Curmudgeon to be fair he has always and continues to be opposed the smoking ban.

    I hope next week to have published a short paper on pub closures by a major UK think tank and economics group. Basically the smoking ban is responsible for 3 in 4 pub closures. Cheap supermarket booze, recession and the beer tie for the balance. Between 1980 and 2006 on average 0.6504% of pubs closed per year. 2007 to 2010 it is 2.775%

    Also I compare prices in 2006 and 2010 at Tescos, they have gone up in line with inflation, and are not significantly cheaper after the ban.

    Beer and spirits
    4x 500 ml Fosters

    2006 £3.53
    2010 £3.42*

    Red Smirnoff Vodka 70cl

    2006 £9.79
    2010 £11.00

    Jack Daniels 70cl

    2006 £18.18
    2010 £20.49

    Wine (please note 2004 not 2006)
    Wolf Blass Yellow Label

    2004 £5.72
    2010 £6.74**

    Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay
    2004 £5.69
    2010 £5.24***

    Jacobs Creek Shiraz Cabernet 75cl
    2004 £4.73 per bottle
    2006 £5.24****

    * Adjusted from 440ml
    **special offer reduced from £8.99
    ***special offer reduced from £6.99
    ****spec offer reduced from £6.99

  7. It must be bad if the FS is agreeing with Alan Johnson:) Initially it looked like his sacking was political and the media started portraying Nutt as some sort of wronged sage.

    However, it became apparent, very quickly, that he was simply an egotist who had overstepped the mark.

    Dave A

    3 in 4 pubs closed due to the smoking ban, eh? I look forward to your report-I am sorely in need of a laugh these days.


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