Andrew Griffiths is the MP for Burton-on-Trent where they brew a lot of beer. You'd expect him to be on the side of the drinkers who provide the profits for the companies that employ the people in the town that elects him. But Mr Griffiths is confused. Very confused.
Our MP starts by defending the industry:
Andrew Griffiths spoke after leaks suggested the parliamentary inquiry would find the industry had broken pledges to act and should face tougher regulation unless it changed tack.
“I don’t think it’s true to say the industry is not working hard to bring about more responsible drinking,” said the Tory, chairman of the parliamentary beer group.
“A vast amount of time and effort has been put in by brewers to make the Responsibility Deal (agreed between the Government and food and drinks industry) deliver the kind of changes the Government wants to see."
All good stuff although we should note that the "parliamentary beer group" is a lobby for the big brewers and pubcos rather than for the drinks industry. So it's no surprise that Mr Griffiths switches his attack now to other bits of the drinks industry:
“However, my concern is that the issue lies with problem drinks rather than the industry as a whole and I would like to see more work done on the issue of vodka and slammer-type drinks, which are more popular with young people.”
So let's have a go at businesses that make drinks somewhere other than Burton-on-Trent! This is not looking good for our MP - brewers good, distillers bad doesn't seem to me like a great strategy. And I'm willing to bet that those brewers - sorry pub chain owners - who pay for the "parliamentary beer groups" slap up lunches and free drinks sell the occasional 'vodka slammer' in their bars.
But it gets worse. Not content with setting one bit of the drinks industry against another, Mr Griffiths then makes common causes with the prohibitionists, New Puritans and temperance campaigners:
“I fully support proposals for a minimum pricing of alcohol,” he said.
“When you can buy strong cider cheaper than water we have a problem with the pricing mechanism used by supermarkets.
“Nobody wants to hit the occasional drinker, but such discounted prices send the wrong message and encourage young people to drink more and more.”
Now - leaving aside that strong cider isn't sold anywhere "cheaper than water" and that alcohol consumption among young people has been falling for over a decade - Mr Griffiths has become entirely confused. Does he support the industry (the people who manufacturer alcoholic drinks for sale) or believe the lies of assorted nannying fussbuckets who want alcohol to be almost impossible to obtain?
However, having confused me, shown zero grasp of logic or sense and joined (as MP for a brewing town) with a temperance campaign, Mr Griffiths saves his biggest piece of nonsense till last:
Mr Griffiths said he had also been frustrated that brewers ploughed vast amounts of money into developing and marketing a brand, ‘only for supermarkets to drive down the prices and sell it at huge discounts in order to get people in’.
Duh! What on earth is this man talking about? The brewers aren't obliged to sell to supermarkets (plenty don't) and all the big brewers, the one with great big plants in Burton sell loads of beer into supermarkets. It provides the volume for those plants, makes sure they keep employing Burton residents and the price the supermarket flogs the beer for is of no consequence.
All that brand investment, Mr Griffiths. You do know it's about market share don't you? You do appreciate that the brands owned by Coors (a great old Burton name there) are sold - at whatever price the supermarket chooses - all across the country on the back of expensive brand promotions and that the brand owner loves, revels in, the volumes sold as a result of all that discounting.
And finally, can we be clear that this statement is utter twaddle too:
...alcohol kills almost 15,000 people in Britain each year and costs the UK economy more than £21 billion, including £3.5 billion to the NHS.