...and pretends it's about health.
Minimum pricing for alcohol - which arrives in Scotland courtesy of their Chief Nanny, Nicola Sturgeon - is simply an impost on those least able to afford. Its proponents gleefully tell us that it won't make a jot of difference to those of us already buying pricier wine or drinking in pubs.
Which means that it is going to affect those folk buying cheap drink - the poorest. Indeed, the entire argument for minimum pricing is based on the same judgement that Titus Salt used to ban drinking among his workforce while serving wine to his guests up at the big house. The poor can't be trusted with the demon drink whereas the sort of folk that Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon socialise with are just fine.
The truth of all this is that what many of minimum pricing's advocates dislike isn't that young people (it's always young people having a good time who these people condemn) drink but that they do so publicly, that they are not embarrassed by occasional over-indulgence and that this drinking is accompanied by loudness, lewdness and insufficient demureness in female dress.
And a special opprobrium is reserved for those who - for whatever reason - opt for al fresco, impromptu drinking. Not the street drinking regulars (although the same folk who want minimum pricing also prefer to move these drinkers out of sight rather than doing something to help them out) but the kids on the park wall with a couple of cans and a plastic bottle of cider. Especially if those youngsters look a little too lower class for normal folk.
Sadly - for the drinkers who pay more and for those concerned about alcohol harm reduction - the minimum pricing proposals won't change a thing. Of course, some research from within nannying fussbucket circles, will show how admissions to hospital have fallen or some such conclusion - on the back of spending one evening at two hospitals. The usual advocates of temperance will be rolled out to say that more must be done and the media will grasp at another campaign to "solve" the "problem" of drinking and our "binge-drinking culture".
As Janet Hood in the Scotsman recently reminded us, back when drink was expensive, licensing laws were tighter and police really did arrest people for being drunk and disorderly there was still a problem:
I went to university in the mid-70s when alcohol was considerably more expensive than today. I remember my first stroll around the city that was to be my home for four years. Edinburgh was amazing! I wound my way through its ancient streets until I came to the Grassmarket, where I encountered the “good ole boys” who were not “drinking whisky and rye” but meths and milk enlivened with hairspray.
Minimum pricing is simply a tax on the honest poor imposed by morally judgemental middle-class doctors, lawyers and politicians. It is obscene.