Tag Archives: Minimun pricing for alcohol

Anything and everything is possible.

This article was originally written for the Subrosa Blog and is published here with permission.

Last weeks post “SNP Worries” resulted in various comments, which questioned if the SNP were dealing with issues in an acceptable manner. Furthermore, do they have the intellectual depth required to deal with, not just with the central issue of gaining independence, but the thornier issues, which will require a more strategic response.

I would appeal to the SNP to follow a single approach which, if carried out in the true spirit of it’s aims could well make the difference between gaining independence or not. That sounds arrogant. There are far better minds employed on working out the best way for the SNP to proceed. However, we are all entitled to our won opinions.

How about giving “anything and everything is possible”.

Okay so how about applying that to a few wee issues which have been bothering the SNP?

Alcohol abuse. Let’s start with this gem. The truth of this issue is that it is culturally based. No amount of minimum pricing and preaching from our medical friends will do the job. That’s the same medical profession who are who are, lets be honest, far from being paragons of sobriety.  The culture change required will take time, maybe more time that we would all like but it is the ONLY way to sort this out.

Smoking. The truth of this is that secondary smoke doesn’t harm anyone. Get the truth of the available real science out to people. Let them make their own decisions. Let pubs, restaurants, and all other places where people might want to smoke make their own decision to be a smoking venue or not as is there right. Non-smokers can make their own decisions about whether or not they will frequent those establishments.

Renewable power. The truth on this one is simple. It doesn’t work. It is the most expensive way to generate electricity bar none. Demonstrate to the Scottish people how much of their electricity bills go to subsidising windmills and the like. Then give them a get out clause. If some people are happy to pay more for windmill electricity carry on if others don’t they should be able to say no thanks. The burden of funding power generation is for the generators, not for governments using tax payers money.

Sectarianism. Integrate our communities including education. A state school is a state school. If people want their children taught a particular religion they can have that done by their church, which might actually get more people to go to church. School is for educating children, not for any form of indoctrination, awareness of religion, yes but nothing stronger.

Everything and anything is possible.

Now the reply to that would be “but it has to be realistic”. Well no. The higher you aim the higher you achieve. We could do with increasing the confidence of the Scottish people. Not the football flag waving type of mock confidence though complete with doom and gloom waiting in the wings.

Well Alex, when do we start? Now is a good time for me.

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Posted by on November 25, 2011 in Politics, Scottish Independence


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Tirelessly, honestly and with integrity.

I’m all for Independence but I don’t want a government which follows, acts and looks like Westminster. Unfortunately, in the past few weeks, I’ve witnessed an SNP MP not only fail to answer the questions asked, but actually try to turn them into a party political broadcast. Just answer the question as it was asked please. Don’t fall into the politician’s mantra that it’s politics and our message has to be stated at every opportunity.

We’ve also got the minimum price for alcohol saga. This falls into the useless posturing section like the ridiculous CO2 reduction targets which won’t be met and won’t do anything other than cost jobs and increase the cost of energy. It’s the “hey look at us we can pee up the wall higher than you can so there” followed by a blown raspberry. They claim a lot and the actual results show it’s been ineffective and costly. And now we also have the Edinburgh trams which is nothing more than a vanity project but they have to be saved. Why? Well just because.

The Free Dictionary definition for a politician is – “one who seeks personal or partisan gain, often by scheming and manoeuvring”. That doesn’t sound particularly nice does it? If your best friend was described like that, would they remain your best friend? Unlikely I’d say. Now, Alex Salmond is held in some high esteem by people who say he is probably the best politician in the UK at present, although there doesn’t seem to be much competition really? Do we want our First Minister to be described in such terms? Does the end justify the means? Only to a certain extent.

I’m not entirely sure that many people think beyond the goal of Independence. At times I feel that we’ll wake up one morning, having gained Independence, and we’ll all look around at each other and ask “Well what next?” I know there are a lot of people out there who do think about the day after Independence and the years and years after that. Where is the debate about this though? Has Alex been on TV and in the newspapers asking us all to think about the future and what the Scottish people want? Not that I’ve seen.

The minimum price for alcohol uses the same old stick that is the only tool in our politician’s tool box. Hit people in their wallet. The trams now look like they will produce the same effect. The SNP are now going to support the completion of the trams as long as they go to St Andrews Square. I’m pretty sure this is to avoid the embarrassment which doing the sensible thing, not spending any more money on it, would have meant. No, it’s far better to hit the tax payer at least twice to get the thing completed.

Being hit twice? Well Transport Scotland has put and will put in more money so that’s hit one. Borrowing £250 million so it can be completed but will have to be paid back will be hit two for the next thirty years. If we want to get really picky hit three will be in the tax payer having to subsidise tram operations to an estimated £4 million per year every year that it operates. The best approach by far would be to stop putting any more public money in. Then, if the politicians want to complete the trams project as it now stands they can either finance it from their own pockets or they can sell it as it is and let a private company take it over, complete it and run it.

The SNP Government will no doubt allow the mugging of tax payers to continue. It’s guaranteed that Westminster would. This is Scotland, not Westminster. We have to be better than this. We have to be twice as good as we should be to ensure our success as an independent country.

So let’s leave behind the definition for a politician – “one who seeks personal or partisan gain, often by scheming and manoeuvring”. Let’s move forward and use an improved definition – “one who works tirelessly, honestly and with integrity to achieve the best outcome for the voters they represent”.

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Posted by on September 1, 2011 in Politics, Scottish Independence


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A million reasons not to do things.

There are a million reasons  why you shouldn’t do something and only one reason that you should. It’s very simple. If you WANT it ENOUGH you will achieve it.

We’ve all done it. Set targets for ourselves and met them and felt good about it. We’ve also set targets and haven’t met them, closely or otherwise and we haven’t felt good about that and then we persuade ourselves we did enough to feel good and then, later, accept we didn’t do enough and feel bad about it.

Gaining Scottish Independence is a big target and the number of voters who decide that they want it enough will vote for it. Whether enough will is a moot point at the moment. However, what we don’t need are various people with axes to grind, queuing up to provide negative independence sound bites and quotes for the MSM.

Today we have two. We have a Glasgow solicitor telling us that catholics may suffer following Independence and the increase in bigotry which this might bring. This view may well be interpreted as an encouragement to catholic voters not to vote for Independence. Is there any truth in it? Perhaps if you are in the West you may consider this to hold some water. In the East it’s complete nonsense. Actually, in the West it’s also complete nonsense and has been for some years.

The solicitor who made the comment is the same solicitor who acts for a Mr N Lennon, the Celtic FC manager. Mr Lennon was assaulted at a football match and his case is providing BBC Scotland news with their nightly court report fix at the moment. No one should be assaulted at a football match regardless of who they are and the team they support. That this is also being pursued as a religiously motivated crime fits well with the current wish to stamp this type of vitriol out. Mr Lennon should not have been assaulted and subjected to religious intolerance. Of course, Mr Lennon should not have assaulted a certain Mr McCoist at another football match. This was also on the news.  The old firm is based on religious differences and until both Rangers and Celtic distance themselves from that, to a realistic and honest degree, we are stuck with the consequences.

Since writing this, the Jury have acquitted the attacker although he is still being held in remand for a breach of the peace conviction. The religious element in the charge was too much for the jury. Justice was served but not in the way the Scottish legal system expected it to. Back to the drawing board chaps and chapesses. More work required.

Meanwhile the Department in Westminster which is responsible for counting beans, tacks, people doing this that and other tell us that adults in Scotland drink 20% more than those in England. Shock Horror. Probe. We’d kind of guessed that albeit not so accurately. As a people we have our macho image to live up to, that’ll be the same one that the British Army exploited for years as the “Jocks” led the charge, again and again and again. Hard men who now how to party as do the women now too.  We’ve all seen evidence of drink abuse in Scotland, as well as many other countries.

Until we change the pattern of alcohol use we will get nowhere. Making it more expensive won’t work. Trying to make it socially unacceptable might help but that’s not a good way to do things. We just need to encourage our young people in particular to recognise that you don’t have to get drunk to be able to have fun and encourage them to say they’ve had enough without peer pressure forcing them to carry on.

Since writing this earlier BBC news have honed the report which now clarifies the issue. Apparently, it is not the usual suspects doing the over indulging. No. It’s actually people sitting at home drinking wine. The Guardianistas are to blame. Who’d a thunk it. Shocking. Give the lot of them a damn good thrashing. It’s what they deserve. What next? Pass the Chateau Buckfast dahling. It has a certain ring to it has it not?

So catholics will be subjected to bigotry and we can’t handle alcohol. All in a day’s work for MSM.

Is it not possible for the MSM to recognise that they are reporting on an opportunity which has enormous potential? An opportunity which could actually allow us as a country, to look very closely at our own problems as well as our strengths and then go on to find solution which are Scottish and will not emanate from Westminster?

But would that sell newspapers? Would that provide a soap box for politicians or those who pursue their 15 minutes of fame? Of course not. More’s the pity.


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Minimum price for alcohol

Let’s get this right. Medical professionals insist that there is evidence that alcohol causes all sorts of health problems, bearing in mind that their profession is riddled with drink and drugs abuse.

Our politicians unfortunately agree and decide to take action. Also bearing in mind that in Westminster they have nice bars and restaurants which sell alcohol at reduced prices. I’m not sure what happens in the Scottish Parliament so let’s give them the benefit of the doubt that they don’t have the same privileges.

So a decision is taken to act and they decide on minimum pricing. Whilst not wishing to allow facts to get in the way of a good policy there are sound reasons why this is a bad move. Mainly because Finland, as an example, has the highest prices in Europe for alcohol and people there drink more than any other nation in Europe. The UK comes mid table for alcohol consumption although the rate of duty on alcohol is third highest in Europe. The rate of duty is a nice little earner for the Government. That being the case you could argue that, perverse as it might seem, drinkers have paid for the treatment they might require from the NHS.

Say the minimum pricing goes ahead. That means that the Scottish Government are saying to everyone who sells alcohol put up your prices and charge your customers more. Please make more profits from your customers. Is this a government prerogative? Does this make sense?

The causes of alcohol overuse and abuse require societal change. The attitude that drinking should result in inebriation every weekend etc. and there’s peer pressure to do so is where encouraging change is required. The resulting violence and bad behaviour following alcohol abuse, which is seen in all major towns and cities every weekend, has a real cost in police time and the NHS.

What to do? Make alcohol abuse socially unacceptable. Present drinkers who have caused trouble or have needed NHS emergency treatment due to drunkenness etc. with a bill which reflects reasonable costs incurred with an additional small percentage of the money raised specifically re-invested back into the Police and NHS to aid alcohol use education etc.

It’s also worth mentioning that the higher the price of alcohol the more people will make their own or will buy from illicit sources. As with all things the problem is more complex than the intended solution and as such will cause other unforeseen issues. Cause-effect-cause…

Let’s have a policy from Holyrood which is innovative and progressive.

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Posted by on August 12, 2011 in Politics


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