Monday, March 16, 2009

Binge Whinge

If the Sunday papers are to be believed, Britain is drowning under a deluge of alcohol abuse. There are binge drinkers on every corner, corner shops are being besieged by under-age buyers of alcohol, and virtually every adult in England is taking advantage of phenomenally low prices to consume as much as possible.

Or is it possible that there were lots of blank pages to fill and yet another piece about alcoholism is (a) easy, and (b) guaranteed to raise the blood pressure of middle England?

There may or may not be a binge drinking issue to be addressed - the sensationalist nature of all news coverage of the topic actually makes it quite difficult to genuinely decide. If there is, we can be pretty sure that it is not universal, that it is confined to certain groups in society, and that it is nothing new. Which makes the constant attempts to squeeze it onto the news agenda both depressing and suspicious. The chief medical officer, Liam Donaldson, is the man who pushed the story out this weekend with his ill-considered suggestion of price fixing - there should, he said, be a minimum price for alcohol. Oh, absolutely. It is clearly the role of the government to tell us all exactly how much is good for us, and to direct what we can consume. And, of course, it is well known that alcohol is priced far too low.

Fortunately, once one has waded through the morass of hysteria there is a beacon of hope, not just for the perfectly reasonable wine drinkers of society, but for anyone concerned with an over-abundance of government intervention on the liberties of ordinary people. The government and the opposition seem united in rejecting the idea of alcohol price fixing. Gordon Brown has been distinctly cool on his response, suggesting that the government has no intention of introducing the measure, and the Tories' health spokesman Andrew Lansley has also clearly opposed it. So we can safely leave the boozy journalists to their anti-alcohol print frenzies without the prospect of a Big Brother state hoving into view just yet.

For a different view of the Great Alcohol Debate, see Will Self's First Post article.

4 comments:

consultant said...

Anyone paying less than 50p a unit for a bottle of wine should really question if what they are getting is worthy of the name.

Comrade Major said...

It isn't but the thing is that it is alcohol, and some of us are too poor to afford much else. I for one prefer the old wine to the English-favourite, the vodka. It's cheaper too. When you're that hammered it doesn't actually make a difference.

R said...

Taxes were created for the government to raise funds for public spending-they shpuld not be used as anything mroe and so this attempt to push people away from teh delights of alcohol is doomed to failure.A slight increase on the already high tariff will cause little difference since those who desire some self indulgence. If a person can no longer afford to pay for alcohol due to the slight increase, then the question were they drinking sensibly in the first place.

and Comrade major i do believe you shouldnt be drinking anyway.

ben ross said...

Less people drinking from off licences mean more people in pubs and clubs. The reason the pub trade is doing so badly is not just the recession, but also because drinking at home is so much cheaper. Especially since this government had seemingly been committed to raise prices in public houses every chance they get. Id welcome a 70-80p per unit price. But only if it didnt include red wine. Because chavs dont drink red wine.