Wrong mentality

Once again, our esteemed political leaders are falling over each other in a wquest to be that little bit more freedom-hating than their opponents. This time, they’re targeting corner shops and kids.

New powers aimed at tackling the problem of under-age drinking in England and Wales have come into force.

The government says they will make it easier for police to confiscate alcohol from youths and to move on groups of teenagers who are causing trouble.

There will also be tougher penalties for shopkeepers who repeatedly sell alcohol to young people.

But the Conservatives have accused ministers of merely tinkering with the problem of under-age drinking.

The Tories have pledged to go further, with a much tougher licensing regime and big tax increases on drinks like alcopops that are popular with teenagers.

Here’s the kicker: kids drinking alcohol is not illegal, and it’s not immoral. It’s only when they have to go hiding it because of political scare stories that they will do it stupidly, and cause problems. Alcohol is not anti-social – in fact it’s one of the great social lubricators. Treating it as a problem when it’s only a problem in a tiny minority of cases is counter productive and ends up diluting the effect and turning the general population against the education of problem drinkers.

Oh, and as far as the tories go, it’s stupid to bring in extra taxes on things like alco-pops. Because it’s not just kids who drink them, and you’ll end up punishing the adults who drink it while the kids go and drink something cheaper. Like vodka.

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