Sunday, 28 November 2010

Hands off my beer, Mr Cameron

The thin end of the wedge is being gently inserted:

The coalition will follow a formula first used by Asda, the supermarket chain, in setting the price, which is intended to be a major weapon in the battle against binge drinking.

The formula, aimed at clamping down on "loss leader" deals, means that no outlet will be able to sell any alcoholic drink for below the cost of duty on the product, plus VAT.

If they do they are likely to lose their licence to sell alcohol as well as face fines.

I can hear you telling me to calm down. Saying that this isn't the advent of a steep downhill road to prohibition - to the 'denormalisation' of alcohol. It's just a little 'nudge' to get us to improve our drinking habits.

And, dear reader, you are wrong. This is that slender little sliver - the first step towards a semi-prohibition, to the medicalisation of alcohol:

"What I would want to see is a minimum price of 50 pence per unit of alcohol, across the board. This sounds like a step in the right direction, but it falls well short of the kinds of changes that I think we need to see."

The authentic voice of the medical prohibitionist lobby there! And his target isn't binge drinking or anti-social behaviour but:

"This doesn't go anywhere near far enough to make a difference. It won't hit wine at all, and it doesn't look like it will have much impact on people drinking other types of alcohol."

So this nannying fussbuckets will continues with their campaign - first for minimum pricing, then for control of the licensing process, then for higher levels of duty, then for plain packaging...and so on and so on. This change opens up - justifies, if you will - the setting of drink prices by Government. How long before we have Government liquor shops and pubs open for just three hours and evening?

Don't say you weren't warned.


1 comment:

manwiddicombe said...

As we saw with minimum wage once the legislation is in place varying the value of the minimum is easy. Massively above inflation rises in minimum wage happened year after year under Blair and there is no reason to suspect that the same thing would not happen with alcohol prices. I view this, as you do, as the thin edge of a very long wedge. What surprises me most is that Cameron's government are supposed to be Conservatives .. ..