Friday, 3 September 2010

The Worst Thing About The State.


It's nearly Always Wrong!


"The Scottish government has said alcohol should be sold at a minimum of 45p per unit. The SNP's minimum price plan, which is contained in its Alcohol Bill, is an attempt to reduce consumption. If agreed, the change would see a two-litre bottle of Tesco brand cider go from £1.32 to £3.80, while Asda whisky would rise from £9.20 to £12.60."
Create a society where poverty leaves the poor with only two things they can enjoy, thanks to the failure of education, injudicious breeding, mass immigration and so forth. You need draconian measures to keep the fall out contained. The cost of everything today is enormous, as we face years of declining living standards. The answer? More control and higher costs of the proletariats' "freedom" to choose how they spend their meager, tax infested, income.
Of course the politicians get to keep their subsidised booze, pole dancing perks et al. The fashion for hurting the majority, for the celebrity culture mimicry of the few, must be done, mustn't it? Now, let me see, how does the minimum pricing scam work for "recreational" drugs? Honestly, as if we don't have enough to pay for.

55 comments:

Grogipher said...

SR, you are much more intelligent than to cast such aspersions and to tar all politicians with the same brush.

MSPs don't get pole dances or subsidised booze.

I don't agree that minimum pricing is an attack on the poor, at all. I don't buy it.

Sandy said...

Can't help feeling we are heading towards the tipping point with ever increasing demands on our personal finances.

When will the complacent masses wake up to the fact that every small pleasure they ever had is taxed and regulated to the max by governments that give them nothing back in return ?

subrosa said...

Gropher, this is a post by my co-author OldRightie. He's talking from an English standpoint as he lives there - hence the pole dancers and subsidised booze (Westminster).

Aren't the eating places and bars in the Scottish Parliament subsidised?

I haven't yet decided where I stand on the minimum pricing. It's difficult to filter out sense from the propaganda. One thing I have decided is that the suppliers win, the supermarkets win and the Treasury wins.

subrosa said...

Sandy I think we're already there. It's endless and perhaps more noticeable for the likes of me on a fixed income.

What's the solution? Nobody votes? I don't know.

RMcGeddon said...

This minimum pricing policy must be against EU Competition Law and The Scotland Act so probably won't happen.
The evidence points to dearer booze causing more crime . Our booze is roughly twice the cost of mainland Europe and yet we suffer more crime and violence. Buckfast won't be affected by the new pricing policy as it's already nearly £6 a bottle. Isn't buckfast supposed to be the main problem in Western Scotland ? Yet it won't be affected.
Dearer booze means more crime and violence. Can we afford the extra costs in policing etc ?
People don't drink cheap cider through choice. It's because they can't afford better quality booze.
The supermarkets will be happy though. £126m a year in extra revenue plus of course the government in London will be glad of the extra taxes from Scotland.
I see all the fake charities like Alcohol Concern etc are happy. That's one reason to abandon the idea. These charities have already decimated the pub business with their no smoking policy and have us wasting billions on fake global warming scare stories via the cost of windmills etc.

subrosa said...

A much more succinct explanation of the situation RM, many thanks.

What never seems to be uttered is that, as you say, that we charge more than any other EU country for booze yet we have a problem. The problem is therefore not price but of course, as with everything, money is king in our society today.

Grogipher said...

This minimum pricing policy must be against EU Competition Law and The Scotland Act so probably won't happen.

Why? Certainly the PO has declared it lawful, and no one else has found anything to find out why it would be illegal, despite the opposition benches desperately trying to find a reason....

As for the price of alcohol - we are nowhere near the most expensive in the EU; have any of you been to Denmark, Sweden, etc recently? I think you might be in for a shock.

As for the naysayers - alcohol is getting cheaper and cheaper, especially in contrast to our disposable income. I would welcome you showing me any figures that show the opposite.

Supermarkets would get some more profit in the long term, but then they'll just pick another item to use as a loss leader to get people in. The optimist in me would love that it be fruit and veg haha, but whatever it is, hopefully it'll be less destructive than booze.

Can anyone who is against minimum pricing actually suggest a better alternative? How else will we tackle this problem? I for one, am all ears!

Oldrightie said...

"Can anyone who is against minimum pricing actually suggest a better alternative? How else will we tackle this problem? I for one, am all ears!"

Bootlegging?

subrosa said...

My mistake Grogipher, I meant to say what used to be referred to as mainland Europe. Of course it's dearer in Scandanavian countries, but then again their incomes balance it out a little by being much higher than here.

Does no Scandanavian country have an alcohol problem now that they have high priced alcohol? Of course they do. In Norway the problem is nearly as bad as here and possibly about the same, although the Norwegians I know all brew their own these days.

What I'm saying is that we're tackling the problem from the wrong side. It's not the price that's wrong.

I said years ago the 24 hour drinking culture would just increase drinking and it has done. Perhaps cutting back on licencing times would help.

But the first thing that should be done is the law should be applied firmly. When I was young a drunk who was causing problems was stuck in the black maria and whisked down to the cells for the night. Only the alcoholics wanted that experience again. The very indignity and embarrassment.

Now problem drunks are ferried off to hospital to stow out our A & Es and abuse the staff who do their best to sober them up before sending them home. The drunk takes no responsibility and the law lets them away with it.

I'd take a firm line. A £250 fine for being drunk and disorderly - no questions. Make it like a parking fine but make it expensive enough for them to think twice about doing it again.

As for folk who drink without causing problems leave them alone. They're paying their own money and the tax on it.

Aye, let's start by actually using the laws we already have.

DougtheDug said...

If raising the price of booze is bad, is the solution then to make it as cheap as possible? Like the old story goes should you be able to go out with a pound in your hand an drink yourself sick and still come home with change in your pocket?

Scotland drinks too much and if a minimum price cuts down the serious and continuous drinking that some sectors of society indulge in then it's a good thing. The price is only going to go up for the cheapest rotgut ciders pushed by the supermarket chains and the spirits they sell for under a tenner a bottle.

Take as an example a 10-pack of Stella Artois 330ml bottles which sells on offer in Tesco for £7.67.

That's a price of just under 77p per bottle. The alcohol content of Stella is 5.2% giving 1.72 units per bottle.

At 45p per unit that gives a price of just over 77p a bottle.

The minimum pricing of 45p per unit is going to push up a 10 pack of Stella 330ml bottles by a whole 5p. That's 5p for the whole pack not per bottle.

It's not going to break the poor or stop people having a drink but it might cut down on the amount drunk by those who buy rotgut cider and other similar drinks. Get a grip OR.

JuliaM said...

"Can anyone who is against minimum pricing actually suggest a better alternative? How else will we tackle this problem? "

Perhaps one should first ascertain if it IS a problem?

And if so, then decide what size of problem it is compared to all the other 'problems'?

JuliaM said...

"Scotland drinks too much..."

I wasn't aware a country could do that at all, never mind exceed some arbitrary limit...

K said...

The Scandinavian countries have high priced alcohol because they have had a problem with alcohol. They put the price up to reduce consumption.

In Scotland we have now reached the stage where we have to do likewise in order to control the promotion of ultra cheap drink in supermarkets. It would obviously be better if supermarkets had the sense and decency not to use alcohol as a loss leader but they don't, so the government is going to have to step in.

The SNP are simply recognising reality - and I am sure the same will happen down south eventually.

Labour's opposition is beneath contempt because it is entirely politically motivated.

K said...

JuliaM - enough alcohol is sold in Scotland for every single person over the age of 16 to exceed safe male drinking limits every single week of the year.

This is why we have a problem. Alcohol related deaths have more than doubled since the early 90s and we have one of the fastest growing rates of chronic liver disease in the world.

Any government which ignored that trend would be unfit to be in office in my view. Labour talk about minimum pricing being a tax on the poor. The poor are being targeted by cut price alcohol promotions that are killing them in ever greater numbers. Those in deprived communities are 6 times as likely to be admitted to hospital and to die due to alcohol misuse than people in wealthier areas.

For as long as I can remember the SNP and Labour have both been committed to tackling Scotland's dreadful health inequalities. The truth is we can't do that without trying to reduce the amount that people drink. Labour know that but have chosen to play politics instead of being honest with people about the scale of the problem.

Alex Porter said...

Have to say I think minimum pricing is nonsense.

We lived thousands of years without it and we can continue to. My own philosophy is that if the state interferes in the freedoms of the people it better have a damn good reason. This is definately not one of them.

People will get round this prohibition anyway. In Sweden young people dab a tampon in a glass of vodka and stick it where the sun don't shine. They get drunk and have little control over how much gets into their bloodstream.

If people are to learn to make good choices they must be allowed to think for themselves. This all stems from the problem of ignorance born out of the nanny state taking away the people's need to think for themselves.

So much easier to blame the poor than abolish poverty.

I need politicians to defend the borders, build prisons and hospitals but I don't need them telling me what to drink.

That's not what governments were supposed to do. No go away and stop believing that YOU KNOW BEST.

DougtheDug said...

"Have to say I think minimum pricing is nonsense. We lived thousands of years without it and we can continue to. My own philosophy is that if the state interferes in the freedoms of the people it better have a damn good reason. This is definately not one of them."

Alex, the State already interferes with how and when people can buy, make and consume alcohol and at what age they can do it. Licenses for selling alcohol, a ban on distilling your own, restricted opening hours, restricted buying hours and no sales to under 18's are already in place. Since you aren't calling for the repeal of any of these all that you're quibbling about is the adding of minimum pricing to the state regulations already in place.

In Sweden alcohol is expensive across the board. All minimum pricing does in Scotland is to take the very, very cheap stuff that supermarkets push to alcoholics and heavy drinkers and make it more expensive.

The price of drink in the pubs and clubs and anything above the price of the cheap rotgut sold in the supermarkets is not going to change.

DougtheDug said...

"I'd take a firm line. A £250 fine for being drunk and disorderly - no questions. Make it like a parking fine but make it expensive enough for them to think twice about doing it again. As for folk who drink without causing problems leave them alone. They're paying their own money and the tax on it."

Subrosa, you've gone down the road that Labour took when they started to try and derail minimum pricing. Minimum pricing is not about law and order or stopping social problems, though it may stop some of these, it's about health.

Labour started to imply it was about law and order so that they could then bypass minimum pricing across the board and focus on Buckfast in order to come up with their surreal proposal to ban caffeine in alcoholic drinks rather than impose minimum pricing.

I know two people who drank themselves to death. One was actually a work colleague before the drink really got a hold of him. Neither was in trouble with the police nor a public nuisance but they still managed to die of liver failure caused by drink. Cracking down on anti-social behaviour would have done nothing for them.

I've no idea if minimum pricing would have saved them but it might save a few others if it stops them drinking so much.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

Norway, the state sells all alcohol over I think 4%?

They have more than their fair share of Calvinistic righteous and PC creepies. The first won't shut up and the second won't stand up to the first - so around they go - and I think most folk are tired of it but unsure as to how to deal with it - apart from fairly full on public disobedience. This disobedience in Norway resulted in the abject failure of the first Norway smoking ban in 1991/92 - but we can't talk about that.

The natives don't just brew their own - they distil their own - in prodigious quantities..

There's a graph somewhere that shows the rise in alcohol price versus the amount of sugar sold in Norway and as the French say quelle surprise! The two track in parallel.

Piss heads will find what they want. Fining them for all sorts transgressive behaviour is OK.

I view the minimum alcohol pricing argument utterly unproven and a slippery slope - just like the rest of the poisonous politicised social engineering schemes stupid politicians who seek to rule rather than serve foist on us.

subrosa said...

Doug, I've given my opinion that raising the price will do nothing except increase the Treasury's income plus that of the retailers and producers.

Yes we drink too much in Scotland from many surveys. Are the Scots perhaps just a little too honest? I know people in England who drink far more than me, but they're far nearer the French coast so have a trip every month for their supplies.

The pricing won't stop people having a drink. It won't stop people drinking how much they want. That's the ideal but it won't happen.

We have the health service saying most of their problems come from smoking and drinking. It occurs to me that if all smokers and drinkers stopped today would the health service grind to a halt, with the exception of infections, such as c.difficle a hospital acquired infection which cost the NHS a fortune to save my life.

Rotgut? That was always the choice of the young or those with little ready money. If the price is increased then they'll still buy the cheapest.

subrosa said...

K I have to disagree with you insofar as increasing the price in the Scandanavian countries has helped their alcohol 'problem'. There's no evidence to prove that ands if you've found any of substance please let me know.

I do know my Scandanavian friends and acquaintances now brew their own as they're not prepared to pay the taxes. These are people who drink moderately and refuse to be insulted. Their country's problem is similar to ours: too many young on the streets at weekend under the influence of alcohol and making a nuisance of themselves.

There will always be a minority of people who buy the cheapest alcohol available - same with food.

subrosa said...

Alex, I can do nothing but agree with you. I'm weary of us becoming the nanny state and that's at my age. How today's youngsters feel is something else.

Although, to qualify that last statement, I think the law ought to stop pussy-footing around and instead of taking them to A & E then lock them up for a night.

Maybe the knowledge that 'they'll be saved' will be an eye-opener.

Joe Public said...

Could Diageo be supporting minimum pricing so enthusiastically because it'll be a cash-cow for its cheaper spirits?

If they / the supermarkets currently sell their cheaper brands at say 40p/unit & the min should be 45p/unit, they just raise their prices. Instant 12.5% extra profit.

'Superior' brands already marketed at >45p/unit are unaffected.

DougtheDug said...

Subrosa:

The minimum price is aimed squarely at the supermarkets and drinks manufacturers who sell cheap, cheap alcohol to the alkies and heavy drinkers.

Here's a list of the prices that would result from a minimum price of 45p per unit.

Btl/Red(14%) Units=10.5, £4.73
Btl/White(12%) Units=9, £4.05
Btl/Spirits(40%) Units=28, £12.60
Pint Beer(5%) Units=2.84, £1.28
330ml Beer(5%) Units=1.65, £0.74
Glass Red(14%) Units=1.75, £0.79
Glass White(12%) Units=1.5, £0.68
Dram(40%) Units=1, £0.45

Comparisons with Sweden and Norway are meaningless. For most drinkers there will be no price change whatsoever. If anyone knows of a pub selling a pint for under the minimum price of £1.28 or a dram for under £0.45 please let me know.

The unholy alliance of supermarkets and drinks manufacturers are squealing that their lucrative cheap alcohol market is being stopped and I'm surprised that instead of being treated with the contempt they deserve they are being listened to.

subrosa said...

Doug, I may have gone down the wrong road but where else it there to go?

I thought schools spent a great deal of time advocating too much alcohol was bad for you yet it doesn't seem to have worked in this country.

subrosa said...

Julia, I'd be interested, as I'm sure you would, to see the criteria for an alcohol limit. If I google it I get so many numbers my brain has gone dumb.

subrosa said...

But K, the high priced alcohol in Scandanavian countries hasn't solved the problem has it? It's only encouraged bootleggers and home brewers, thus reducing the tax the country receives and also the profits the manufacturers and suppliers receive.

subrosa said...

What is a safe drinking level K? It's not so long ago the BMA admitted they wrote the figures on the back of a cigarette packet.

Really, it's up to people to realise their limit and take responsibility. Why should the state be telling me how much I should drink?

Again it's a great excuse for government to say that smokers and drinkers are costing the NHS a fortune and thus implying that those who don't have these habits are being denied treatment.

Once again we're being fed fear.

subrosa said...

Thanks for that Doug. Much appreciated.

subrosa said...

Yes Gordon, I should have included the distilling. Error on my part.

Alex Porter said...

DougTheDug,
Calling for repeal is very different from arguing against new legislation. You didn't extend the courtesy to ask me how I feel on the other legislation either.

I would repeal all the legislation you mentioned. There you go so you're extrapolations are nonsense. I want a well financed but much simpler welfare state. The government has no business being involved in this part of our lives. Indeed I see it as totalitarian and I think that anyone who agrees with it knows nothing about the contract between government and the people.

Yes it's a sensitive area but government intervention is not just stupid but dangerous.

Really Rosie, the brainwashing that has reduced to this level of attacking our neighbours through petty government is anathema to me.

They'll never find their spines if the government is telling them how to blow their nose!

And on top of that, I think it's unScottish. Leave that for another day!

subrosa said...

Alex, it's only in the past 10 years or so I've noticed the brainwashing. But then, as you know, I said it would take that long for the comprehensives to reduce education to a 'one size fits all' system.

It is unScottish yet only a few are realising that. We cannot save everyone's life and they have to start taking responsibility for their own lives as they did in my youth.

Why do we want to save lives anyway? We don't have the money to pay pensions for years and years.

JuliaM said...

K: "JuliaM - enough alcohol is sold in Scotland for every single person over the age of 16 to exceed safe male drinking limits every single week of the year."

Would those be the 'safe male drinking limits' that EVERYONE should now know were based on zero evidence?

"The poor are being targeted by cut price alcohol promotions that are killing them in ever greater numbers."

Yeah. Get back to me when the alcohol sellers are kidnapping people off the street and forcing them to drink...

Seriously, is there no room for any personal responsibility in your world?

Do you really think that having Big Nanny oversee your every move is some kind of answer?
Thought so.

JuliaM said...

"I know two people who drank themselves to death. One was actually a work colleague before the drink really got a hold of him. Neither was in trouble with the police nor a public nuisance but they still managed to die of liver failure caused by drink. Cracking down on anti-social behaviour would have done nothing for them.

I've no idea if minimum pricing would have saved them..."


Have you never heard tghe expression 'hard cases make bad law' then? I'd have thought you would, given the last 20 years or so of do-gooding authoritarians...

Look, your story is quite sad, but I fail to see why you think it should provide a cast-iron reason to treat EVERYBODY as a potential drink abuser. Particularly when you admit you've no idea ifg it would have made a difference!

How about we all act like adults and agree that people make their own choices in life? Some of them aren't going to be ones that we ourselves will make, some of them will be ill-advised or even fatal.

But removing that choice is a far, far greater danger than allowing it...

Gedguy said...

I stopped drinking decades ago (even when I was managing pubs I didn't drink). However, that is not to say that a drop of alcohol did not pass my lips; I just stopped it from being a time consuming and money spending hobby. I have no problem with anyone consuming anything if it is done in moderation, the problem that we have is that some humans are not normally so well disciplined.
Also, I am unsure what oldrightie meant by the phrase, " injudicious breeding". Maybe he can enlighten us.

subrosa said...

Like some others, I can't see that raising the price is the panacea to this problem. No country has proved that to be the case.

K, I know 3 people who have died climbing mountains here in Scotland. All young people but they made their choice. Of course you'll possibly say they weren't imbibing poison but were partaking in healthy exercise. Mountain climbing isn't my choice but I don't condemn those who do it.

As Julia says by removing choice there is far, far greater danger lurking round the corner.

I foresee, in another 20 years if the price of alcohol increases, many more cases of liver disease and other alcohol related illnesses. They'll be cause by buying on the black market. People will take the chance of getting their tipple cheap.

No, the way to go is to enforce the present laws. Let's see if that will reduce the amount of alcohol consumed.

JuliaM said...

" I have no problem with anyone consuming anything if it is done in moderation..."

Well, that's jolly good of you, I must say.

Just one question, though; when did you reach the erroneous conclusion that it was any of your damned business what anyone else does?

DougtheDug said...

"Look, your story is quite sad, but I fail to see why you think it should provide a cast-iron reason to treat EVERYBODY as a potential drink abuser. Particularly when you admit you've no idea ifg it would have made a difference!"

JuliaM:
The story was to illustrate that it's not a law and order issue but one of public health and that treating it as a law and order issue does not address the underlying problem. The law doesn't treat everybody as a potential drink abuser, all it does is set a minimum price for alcohol. As I've already illustrated the price change for those who buy their drink in pubs and clubs will be nil and even for those who buy their drink in supermarkets the only change will be a price increase for the cheap ciders and supermarket own brand spirits.

Alcohol is already hedged about with a huge number of regulations and this will simply be one more. Alex Porter thinks that all regulations on alcohol should be removed and that anyone should be able to make it and sell it at will to any age group they like and though I don't believe that should be allowed to happen it is the logical end point of opposing alcohol regulation and it is consistent with the viewpoint of no regulation and choice.

"How about we all act like adults and agree that people make their own choices in life? Some of them aren't going to be ones that we ourselves will make, some of them will be ill-advised or even fatal. But removing that choice is a far, far greater danger than allowing it..."

Do you believe in removing all alcohol regulation and letting people brew, distill and sell it at will so that personal choice becomes the only restraint on its use? That is the logical conclusion of giving people choice. Once you agree to the fact that alcohol should be regulated in some form the only argument after that is the degree of regulation.

Alcohol is an addictive substance and I believe it should be regulated so that price is a factor in its purchase.

Alex Porter said...

The prob Doug is that once you let Big Brother tell you how to wipe your nose that you start getting into all other areas of moral and ethical issues.

Ok, if someone wants to make booze in the bath and sell it, that's fine by me. That'll happen anyway as a consequence of this legislation. For self-consumption we have 'brew your own' anyway and that gets drunk by friends at parties too.

If there's a problem with quality or like heroine people might get hurt by the contents then quickly people will demand a quality mark. The market will and does sort out this problem by itself. You have seals of quality and that protects you.

Under this legisation people may well be poisoned because they are being forced financially into imbibing alcohal which to them is affordable but they'll have no idea of the quality. More people may die or get serious injuries. Will the supporters of this legisation take the responsibility for that? No, they'll ask for more laws to clamp down and on and on and on..

So, I say let the people sort it out among themselves. The government simply distorts the picture and I would say is largely responsible for alcohal abuse because of its existing interference in people's lives.

And there's a big distinction between 'use' and 'abuse' and this legislation and no legislation can tell the difference. Again a distortion emerges which will have another set of consequences.

The government dumbs people down, gives their money to banks (meaning less money to have a healthy lifestyle) and generally distorts life so much that people are driven to all sorts of abuse. The answer seems to be for some people MORE GOVERNMENT because they have been told time and time again that they are stupid and politicians have all the answers. The reality is government is the root cause of the problem in the first place. It's like when you have an argument with your partner and then no-one can remember what they were arguing about in the first place..

Booze had a big impact on my family life and I can see the dangers of it. The reason we have family, friends, priests, ministers, psychologists and so on are for things like this and NOT government.

As a culture we must learn to think for ourselves. Dependency on Big Brother will kill us in all sorts of ways!

K said...

Alex says we have lived thousands of years without governments trying to control alcohol consumption and we can continue to do so. That is not really true - historically the authorities in Scotland have always worked pretty hard to control the sale and consumption of alcohol. It is only in the past few decades that we have seen a loosening of restrictions as a deliberate policy.

If the Government chooses not to intervene now (or is forced not to intervene) we cannot complain about the consequences.

And we have to recognise what the consequences will be. As I said, alcohol related deaths have more than doubled since the early 90s and we have one of the fastest growing rates of chronic liver disease in the world. If this trend continues the NHS will not be able to cope. I don't want to see that and I don't think anybody else would either but without intervening it is difficult to see how things can be improved.

RMcGeddon said...

Like all taxes, if this minimum price tax on alcohol is introduced it will just go up and up. Whoever heard of a tax going down ?
VAT was supposed to be for luxury goods but now covers most items essential for living and is getting higher and higher. How can car tyres be a luxury item ? If you don't ensure good tyre treads then you get fined but it's now seen as a luxury.
If alcohol is to be taxed more then why not sugary sweets, pies, cakes etc. Too many of them lead to heart disease according to the righteous.
I find it unbelievable that people are asking to be taxed more in one of the highest taxed countries in the world.
If the SNP were really interested in tackling alcohol abuse and violence then they would ensure that the courts followed the proper sentencing rules. A few months in prison and associated loss of job etc would soon reduce crime. The SNP have gone the opposite way and are discouraging judges from implementing sentencing of less than 6 months.
As regards health. If people want to kill themselves with alcohol then why do we try to stop them ? Surely it would be better to help them on their way with cheaper alcohol prices rather than try to extend their lives with liver transplants etc ?
As usual the majority must suffer a penalty due to the minority who abuse alcohol.
As has been previously said, alcohol is cheaper in 'mainland Europe' and they don't have the trouble that we have. Putting alcohol prices higher will have the opposite effect that the SNP think it will have. Crime will increase as people will need more money to feed their alcohol habit ( as with the drugs trade) and there will be more health issues with private breweries and stills producing stuff with no quality control that is more harmful to health.

K said...

R MCGeddon

1. Minimum pricing is not a tax.

2. Alcohol abuse is not a crime.

It's worth while looking at what alcohol would cost under this proposal.

A 2 litre bottle of supermarket own brand strong cider for example would cost 3.75 rather than 1.20 as at present.

Perhaps you could explain why it is that you object to this?

Are you really happy that alcohol is sold at this price?

Alex Porter said...

K,

Sorry but you're typical of the brainwashed, Big Brother knows best mentality.

Look, for a start what I acutally said was that we've survived thousands of years without 'minimum pricing'. I didn't say the same about limiting alcohal consumption. It's always better for your case and for polite debate not to misrepresent others.

It is the case though that government has become increasingly involved in meddling with out drinking habits. Closing times during the first world war were continued after the war. Now we have lots of young people trying to drink as much booze as possible before last orders and pouring into the street en masse causing mayhem. The reason for this phenomenon is the law meddling. The government wants everyone to get to work on time and so likes early hours, neighbours insist on quiet but the principle argument is from people like K who's thinking is that as X is the problem then Y is the solution.

Yes K, consumption has increased and it is a problem. That does not mean the government should be involved. Indeed, all the evidence there is suggests that when the government does get involved the problem worsens.

Take for example poverty. Everyone knows that unemployment and debt cause poverty. The answer is not to tell people in poverty to pull their socks up, jail them or demonise them. No, the problem is solved by getting rid of debt and allowing the economy to improve.

Abuse of alcohal is probably increasingly because of the increase in debt. You tackle the cause not the symptom.

Abolish debt and you'll see alcohal abuse solved.

Minimum pricing is a con which is about letting those who impoverish our nation get away with it by blaming their victims for their own problems.

RMcGeddon said...

K..

" 1. Minimum pricing is not a tax."

What is it then ? A voluntary contribution ? Is it ok if I decide not to pay ?

" 2. Alcohol abuse is not a crime"

Who said it was ?

"
A 2 litre bottle of supermarket own brand strong cider for example would cost 3.75 rather than 1.20 as at present.

Perhaps you could explain why it is that you object to this?

Are you really happy that alcohol is sold at this price?"

I'd be happy for supermarkets to give alcohol away free to anyone over 18. I love the stuff.
But I will settle for paying what the supermarkets need to charge to cover their costs with a suitable profit for their endeavour.
Alcohol is legal. If people abuse alcohol and cause trouble then they should be locked up.
Once we've got alcohol at a cost that only MSP's can afford where would you like to start next ?

irn bru - all that sugar.
Pies - very fatty.
cakes - fatty
smoking - pretty much covered
sweeties - should probably just ban them. No apparent goodness at all.
cars - all those fumes. best ban them.
drugs - banned but to no effect.
tv - sitting watching biased bbc rubbish all day. Bad
rock concerts - yes double entrance fees. Too noisy for safe hearing.
jaccuzzis - waste of water. ban em or at least increase water rates through privatisation of water supply.

The politicians must be peeing themselves with the proles asking to be taxed even more while they trouser £100K without batting an eyelid. They think we're idiots and with people like you unfortunately they're right.

subrosa said...

K, I reiterate. If this further legislation goes ahead then there will be many more cases of chronic liver disease in this country. More and more people will produce their own alcohol or buy it from sources other than shops or supermarkets if they want to drink outside of pubs or clubs.

In twenty years time this will show. Of course the statistics will say the government were right because the sales of alcohol have fallen and the increase in liver disease will be put down to eating chips or some other ridiculous excuse.

As Julia mentioned, who is to define abuse. I use alcohol but do I abuse alcohol? Some completely unproven 'science' gives the daily intake for men and women in the same manner as the 'five a day' slogan was aimed, not a good health, but increasing the sale of fruit and veg in this country because we needed to import more.

No, minimum pricing is not a tax anymore than the tax which goes to government when I buy a pair of shoes.

The result of alcohol abuse can result in crime. Being drunk and disorderly is a crime in this country.

I'm weary of hearing the cider comparison. Goodness, I don't know one person over 25 who drinks cider and I assure you that the under 25s will still be able to afford it even if it triples in price. The difference between £3.75 and £1.20 to a youngster is minimal. They'll still buy the cheapest booze regardless of its price.

I don't see many, if any, livers being grateful for this interference from the state. Perhaps Alex has the right idea and all laws regulating alcohol should be done away with and let's see what happens.

The only winners from this will be the suppliers, manufacturers and the Treasury. The losers - people like me who thought they were voting for a party with much common sense. I won't lose for long though, I've the demijohns all lined up waiting to be used. Used to enjoy making my own and it wasn't too bad. Hope the skill is still there.

K said...

Alex the purpose of minimum pricing is to reduce alcohol consumption. So you are splitting hairs really about the means.

Look at it this way. 100 years ago we didn't have Asda and Tesco and Lidl competing on the basis of who can sell the cheapest booze. If that situation had existed at any point in the past then the government/authorities would eventually have done something about it.

I do not wish to be rude but your comments show that you really do not get what minimum pricing is about.

Minimum pricing will have no effect on the on-trade - none whatsoever. Closing times are irrelevant. It is not about stopping people trying to drink as much booze as possible before last orders and pouring into the street en masse causing mayhem. Put that out of your head entirely because you are barking up the wrong tree. There are of course issues with alcohol-fuelled crime but that is a policing issue.

The issue with minimum pricing is the off-sales sector - not pubs and clubs.

The key point for me is the change in the way people drink and I don't know if you appreciate that. Thirty years ago most alcohol was bought in pubs and clubs. Today most alcohol is bought in supermarkets. People drink more at home than they do in licensed premises - partly due to changes in the way we socialise but mainly because it is so much cheaper. And they also drink much greater quantities than before.

In recent years the supermarkets have started to compete with each other by selling cheaper and cheaper booze. I gave the example of 2 litres of own brand cider for 1.20. Twenty years ago you would have paid more than 1.20 for 2 litres of cider. The supermarket promotions are taking alcohol prices down to ridiculously cheap levels. They are stuck in a trap of their own making and they cannot stop the race to the bottom on cut-price alcohol. Minimum pricing will stop it. It's the only thing that can.

Now Tesco has said that it is not against minimum pricing - as long as it applies across the board they do not object. Their position is that they are not going to stop cheap alcohol sales by themselves because if they did they would lose customers. However if minimum pricing is introduced across the board then there will be a level playing field.

R McGeddon - minimum pricing is setting a minimum price on each unit of alcohol that is sold - 45p is the price that has been set. So it would be illegal for retailers to sell alcohol below that level. There is no taxation involved. There have been suggestions that increased duty could do the same job as minimum pricing but that is not correct. The large retailers could easily afford either to absorb increased duty or pass it on to their customers on other products. The only way to stop them selling alcohol at pocket money prices is to set a minimum price.

RMcGeddon said...

K said...

" There is no taxation involved"

Well if a bottle of your 'cheap' cider rises by 300% does that not mean that it's tax will rise by 300% ?
Am I missing something here ?

JuliaM said...

"Do you believe in removing all alcohol regulation and letting people brew, distill and sell it at will so that personal choice becomes the only restraint on its use? "

Not entirely.

I think the restrictions we currently have on sales to minors (note: NOT under 25s, as some supermarkets have taken upon themselves to introduce but true minors) are fine. But no further. And yes, if ppl want to home-distill, fine by me.

Gedguy said...

JuliaM,
"when did you reach the erroneous conclusion that it was any of your damned business what anyone else does?"
When I started writing on other people's open blogs. Why? When did you feel the need to be the blog police and decide when it is right and proper to reply to other people's comments?

subrosa said...

'the purpose of minimum pricing is to reduce alcohol consumption.'

Auch K, may well be that our government's wishes that but the result will backfire to ' the purpose of minimum pricing is to reduce the purchase of alcohol'.

'Thirty years ago most alcohol was bought in pubs and clubs. Today most alcohol is bought in supermarkets. People drink more at home than they do in licensed premises - partly due to changes in the way we socialise but mainly because it is so much cheaper. And they also drink much greater quantities than before.'

That's nonsense. I was young-ish then and, unless you lived in the cities, pubs were for men and clubs didn't exist. Us young ones bought our half bottle from the local off-licence, stuck it somewhere and set off to the local hop. I've tried to find out how much alcohol was purchased through off-licences back in the 70s but the figures vary from the sublime to the cor blimey.

Around 40+ years ago dance halls became licensed premises, until then they only sold soft drinks and beverages.

People drink more at home because they don't want to drink and drive. Where are the stats that people drink much greater quantities than in the 70s? They certainly drink stronger drinks but I should think the quantity is quite static.

Naw K, this is the SNP trying to emulate Jack McConnell's smoking ban and I certainly don't like it. Not from the point that something has to be done about the health problems which are caused by misuse but from trying too hard to have a legacy.

subrosa said...

Gedguy, that's a bit sharp. Julia has every right to respond to other people's comments. That's what discussion is all about. Do you want it to be just you v me? Not the way I like it.

K said...

Subrosa it is not nonsense to say that 30 years ago most alcohol was sold in licensed premises.

That's a fact. The statistics are quite readily available.

Your personal recollections are just your personal recollections. They don't disprove anything.

If I could throw my personal recollections into the mix, I remember my mother going out to buy a bottle of whisky specially for New Year. We did not have drink in the house habitually. My parents did not drink in the house habitually. They drank tea most of the time - when people dropped in they were generally offered a cup of tea or coffee, not a glass of wine because my parents did not have wine in the house.

Wine, like whisky, was for occasions. It wasn't part of daily life. That is my recollection, which I think is as valid as yours, and I also think is possibly more typical of working class households at that time.

Now we can argue about stats and personal experience until the cows come home but at the end of the day the SNP would not be pushing this so much if they didn't think they were onto something. I think they are onto something. I believe that, while no-one wants to go back to full-on Victorian attitudes to drink, most people think that the pendulum has gone much too far the other way. Drinking has become too much of a way of life, it's not the exception any more, it's the rule. Millions of pounds are spent on trying to influence us to drink more booze, retailers are selling it cheaper and cheaper and in ever greater quantities. I think the type of people who are most likely to actually go out and vote are becoming thoroughly sick of it and want to see some firmness and, yes, some disapproval from government.

subrosa said...

I disagree K because I was in my 30s thirty years ago and pubs weren't the places women frequented in great number - particularly in rural areas which still doesn't provide decent pubs. Select clubs (usually membership required) were where I used to go for a night out. Off licences made a very decent living in those days and many were attached to pubs btw. So, if you included a pubs off-licence trade you may be right.

By the way any premises which sells or distributes alcohol requires a licence of some kind. Every event manager's nightmare that is I can tell you.


K, I think the SNP is pushing this because they are, for some reason, desperate to leave a legacy such as McConnell did with the smoking ban. It's a wrong move. One report from an English university and another from a department in the Canadian government doesn't make it right. The reports don't have case studies but statistics which can be interpreted in many ways. There's not one bit of proof that increasing the price will save livers. At least both say it 'may' do rather to protect the authors I assume.

Drinking, along with house-owning, car-owning, designer labels for everyone, university for all - I could go on and on. That's today's society. We made it and government's aided and abetted.

Millions of pounds are spent on trying to get us to buy houses, cars, boats. Booze is just a small part of that but booze is accessible to all being stocked in supermarkets.

The only way I see price increases deterring folk from buying alcohol is if a bottle of Scotch, for example, was £50 minimum and a beer £5 a can.

Most of my friends vote and the price increase won't make a difference to their habits. They're just weary, like me, of being told what's good for them after having worked a lifetime. What will happen to the friends of mine round here is that they'll go back to voting Tory, especially if the Scottish Tories get their act together.

K said...

Subrosa whatever your personal experience is the statistics tell us that over half of the alcohol sold today is consumed in the home whereas home drinking represented less than a quarter of sales in 1980.

That trend is continuing. The number of litres of pure alcohol purchased off-trade in Scotland increased from 30.5
million in 2005 to 31.5 million in 2007. In contrast, on-trade sales declined from 19.1 million
litres in 2005 to 18.2 million litres in 2007.

I am aware that some people ascribe the decline in drinking in licensed premises to the smoking ban. However it is far more likely that the reason is the extreme cheapness of off-trade alcohol sales.

As regards your friends going back to voting Tory because of minimum pricing - David Cameron is very sympathetic to minimum pricing. It's more likely than not that we will see it in England as well as Scotland.

The SNP wants to see it in Scotland first not because they want to create a legacy but because Scots now drink twice as much as the English so the problem is more urgent.

subrosa said...

K, do tell me who collects and verifies the statistics of people who drink at home. I buy alcohol, but who can say whether it's for my person consumption of as gifts to others? All the stats say is that more alcohol is purchased in off-licenses and not pubs. The stats give no indication of who drinks what.

Is that what you really want? People to have to sign for alchohol and then state where and by whom it's consumed? That's the only way you'll have a realistic figure.

You're on la-la land K if you don't think the decline in sales in pubs isn't due to the smoking ban. There's not a publican in Perthshire who would say that the smoking ban hasn't seriously affected their sales.

I'm not interested in David Cameron - he runs the UK. I'm interested in my government who are supposed to be doing their best for me. All David Cameron will do is exactly what Blair did - use Scotland as a pilot scheme for their ideas. The first one (the poll tax) backfired. The second (the smoking ban most folk didn't see what the end result would be) and now we have an SNP government wanting to raise the cost of alcohol without even trying to take the bigger picture into consideration.

Give me a link that says Scots drink twice as much as the English. I've listened to your argument and now you're becoming fanatical in your statements.

I don't want a government that tells me what to do. Their duty is to ensure the country is run well, enhance the economy and take care of those in need. They're not doing any of that while they're spending endless weeks on this alcohol business.

Time they grew up and let us grown ups take responsibility for ourselves. Tough if we end up with liver failure. Then we'll die a lot younger and save the country a fortune in pensions.

Alex Porter said...

Jeez K,
If people want to drink at home let them.

Look, you just didn't follow my case. My point about opening hours is the same as prohibition and every other attempt at altering alcohal consumption - it has unintended consequences. It always does and that's what proponents never seem to understand, ever. Also, the difference between minimum pricing and other forms of control is subtle but very important - this is government trying to manipulate demand rather than supply. Government should maybe control the quality of supply but trying to infuence demand is utterly nonsensical as well as dangerous.

The problem here is one of poverty. It's as simple as that. Sort out corruption by bankers and politicians, take back the real economy for the people and you'll see a moderation in drinking as people will have less to forget.

That will solve drink problems, drug problems, violence problems etc etc. Micro-management is simply stupid and is all about avoiding fixing the problem because to really solve the problem means taking on the real culprits who are big business and local and central government corruption.

That's why we get the rightious good dishing out ASBOs and CCTV cameras and so on and so on. Blame the poor - it's victorian hypocrisy and greed and the only reason they get away with it is because they get ordinary people sucked into their con games.

Just concentrate on the redistribution of wealth and let people live their own lives at peace.

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