Friday, 23 March 2012

Can I have a small glass of chardonnay…

SO, the momentum is building for a minimum alcohol price to stop binge drinking morons etc etc.

In England and Wales the target is 40p minimum price per unit, which would mean, for example a cheap bottle of a cheeky red would shoot from £2.99 to £3.75 according to the BBC.

Now we know why there was no increase in the duty on booze in the budget: increase the price and the duty earned will rise accordingly.

No doubt the politicians here will join in this stupidity tax, for it is a stupidity tax on two levels. It is firstly designed to stop stupid people getting stupidly drunk. It is also stupid because it does not address the problem - it is tackling the symptom not the disease.

Heavy drinkers will always drink heavily. Teenagers will always try and get booze illicitly. Alcoholics will always manage to get hold of alcohol.

The minimum unit pricing may not really address the problem of pre-loading, but may open yet more booze cruises and access to illegal sources such as the belovedly dangerous poteen.

Is this a populist tax? In all probability, yes. Alcohol consumption has actually been falling.
Once a perception has been ingrained it becomes reality.

The so-called city centre lager louts…are they really any different to traditional Norn Iron booze fuelled rioting; or any different from booze fuelled rioting at the start of the 20th Century? Or worse still, is it any different from domestic violence by an alcoholic husband on his partner?

Alcoholism is a terrible disease, and alcohol has a dramatic effect on even the most stable of people.

The minimum pricing argument appeals to the soft centre voters who will never be in the city centre after 1am, and rarely have occasion to be in A&E departments. It is the politics of being seen to do something as opposed to addressing the issue of city centre infrastructure, treatment resources, education programmes, and diversionary activities.

There is this supposed aim of creating a café culture with us all sipping lattés and maybe once in a while sipping a glass of chilled chardonnay or a full-bodies merlot.

Before Norn Iron’s moral core (the MLAs) jump on the bandwagon they should institute a full examination of the issues. We know that’s not likely, but we live in hope.

Alternatively they should go the whole hog and make off sales state-owned with maximum purchase limits and arrest on the spot anyone in possession of more than one tin of weak beer.

After all the Rev Dr Ian Paisley did warn us about the evils of “the devil’s buttermilk”…

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