What are they doing? Have they taken leave of their senses? Do they really believe that people are going to go along with their latest wheeze?
I’m talking about the SNP. They are going to implement a minimum price for a unit of alcohol of 50p. They are doing this because they believe it will reduce alcohol abuse and the resulting stresses on the NHS and society in a wider sense: no doubt a worthy aim but surely attempting to address an effect rather than a cause.
The 50p unit of alcohol cost is a bad move in many ways. Firstly, it means that the retailers who sell alcohol will immediately enjoy an increase in profits. This is because the Scottish Government has no tax raising powers and as such cannot raise duty, which would redirect the money, raised through increased prices, into government coffers.
Secondly, people will still buy the alcohol they want. They will adapt their preferences to the best-priced products and if the unit price rises they will look at making their own, buy it from white van man or organise trips to places where it’s still cheap to buy. Some people will probably buy more drugs instead of alcohol. You know, those illegal ones, which could contain all sorts of rubbish, which might impact negatively on the NHS? Also, has anyone in government read up on the prohibition experiment in the USA?
I really doubt that this will make much difference from a health point of view just as the ban on smoking in public places made no difference despite the claims made by the Government, which the official NHS figures debunked. Sure there are bound to be benefits to some extent but they will be diluted because they are treating the effect rather than the cause.
And what is the cause? Large segments of the population think it’s cool to drink and get drunk, some people drink to get outside their problems and they feel better when they’re drunk and some just drink because they like it. Reality check, and shock, horror, probe some people will undoubtedly be doctors, nurses, and all the other medical professionals who are so quick to stand up and pontificate about alcohol abuse.
This raises a question about the SNP. With the Independence Referendum in mind, they need to show good governance to demonstrate they are up to the job of running a country. The introduction of the minimum price for alcohol is one example of this, which is supposed to demonstrate that they will act sensibly and caringly
I suggest it is demonstrating that they may be closer to the main parties in the UK than they think. I think they have demonstrated that they have more than an eye on the “famous meter”. Politicians seem to be spending a lot of time these days looking at the “famous meter” and then trying to introduce policies first before other countries do or they introduce policies which go further than other countries do. Then they sit back and claim they acted more quickly and more stringently and the “famous meter” score jumps up accordingly.
There you go! Fame! That is a line or a paragraph in the history books for the politician. Result!
Of course there are all the people who drink sensibly and who will find themselves having to pay more although initial examples seem to suggest it’s pretty much the low rent alcohol, which has borne the brunt. This is of course bought by the people who can least afford alcohol so a direct hit on the vulnerable then. Good one Nicola!
How about the MSM come up with a wee campaign? Press the retailers of alcohol from the Tescos to the corner shops to donate the extra money they make on alcohol sales from the minimum unit price to alcohol and drug abuse treatment organisations? The retailers say they don’t want to charge more so they won’t mind passing it onto their customers in effect.
It may be that the attempt to enact the levy on alcohol will be illegal under EU law, could this result in it being scrapped and something good coming out of the EU?
The next chapter of the SNP saga will be along shortly.