Saturday, 20 October 2012

Buy one, get none free

In the latest step on the long march to Prohibition, the government have announced that they are going to ban discounts for multiple purchases of alcoholic drinks. The article describes this in the context of wine, but of course it will also affect all those 4 for £6 offers on premium bottled ales, and 3 for £20 on slabs of Carling.

This is presented as a way of reducing overall consumption, as it is argued that these offers encourage people to buy and drink more than they otherwise would have. But surely, for most people, it is simply a case of buying in advance in a planned and cost-effective way. And it marks a move away from simply targeting identifiable “problem drinkers” to ordinary, responsible members of society who just happen to drink a bit more than the absurdly low and scientifically groundless official guidelines.

It will also adversely affect the business of small independent brewers and winemakers, as you might well be tempted to make up a multibuy with an unfamiliar bottle, but if you have to pay full price for everything you are more likely to stick to the tried and trusted. And retailers won’t just sit back and do nothing – inevitably they will come up with different forms of promotion concentrating on varying single-product discounts.

A similar ban has been in force in Scotland for a year. There were initial reports of a substantial fall in sales, but that was probably mainly due to people stocking up before it came in. Can any Scottish readers comment on how retailers have responded to it a year down the line?

You might hope there would be something of a backlash against this from the Conservatives’ and LibDems’ natural supporters stocking up their car boots at Waitrose, but it is perennially disappointing how supinely people seem to take all this bullying nonsense. It seems they have been conned into thinking it is all for their own good, when in reality it represents a relentless erosion of their freedoms. Don’t expect the official opposition to do anything either – their response is more likely to be that the measures don’t go far enough.

And just wait for the divide-and-rule dupes saying that it will help pubs compete against supermarkets on a more level playing field.


  1. The Scottish gov admitted recently that banning multi-buys had had no effect whatsoever. Haven't time to find link now, maybe later.

  2. Wonder if you've seen this CAMRA produced video which explains Why Pubs Are Closing All Over Britain:

    It's a fair and accurate insight into how Private Equity interests, identical to the banks, have destroyed the pub sector instead of building it up.

  3. Perhaps someone should explain to Cameron that tinkering with markets, banning things and using economic coercion to herd the masses into conforming with one's personal beliefs as to what constitutes correct behaviour are normally associated with the far left of the political spectrum.

    Precisely why does the government need an "alcohol strategy" in any case? At what point in history did this ceaseless harassment of the population "for its own good" become an essential part of government? Did the great political leaders of the past busy themselves with such matters?

    Cameron would do well to heed the advise of those telling him that his nannying will be both unpopular and ineffective.

  4. At what point in history did this ceaseless harassment of the population "for its own good" become an essential part of government?

    wrt alcohol, 1751?

  5. @westcoast2

    Ah yes, the gin "epidemic". The pressure group rather grandly called The Royal College of Physicians is claiming 1725 as the date that it began telling politicians what to do by offering its "expert" advise.

    Reading about this subject I came across this paragraph in a US paper on alcohol in the 18th century:

    "… the attitudes of the genteel towards their own drunkenness and those of the ‘inferior people’ reflected class distinctions. For the middle and upper classes — the only ones to record their perspective — their own drunkenness was simply amusing."

    It seems that nothing has changed much and I am sure that Dave has fond memories of having a bit of a laugh after over indulging during his college days. Unfortunately, similar behaviour amongst the "inferior" classes is viewed as utterly unacceptable and there is apparently a pressing need to combat it by making alcohol so expensive that only the upper classes can afford to get drunk.

    This could be described as the governments "let them do crack" philosophy.

  6. I haven't yet seen it but there is an article in one of today's papers about illegal stills. A taste of what's to come.


Comments, especially on older posts, may require prior approval by the blog owner. See here for details of my comment policy.

Please register an account to comment. To combat persistent trolling, unregistered comments are liable to be deleted unless I recognise the author. If you intend to make more than the occasional comment using an unregistered ID, you will need to tell me something about yourself.