The policies of coalitions

It’s very strange, this coalition government. Under the last lot, I’d often hear a headline and get mildly irked by it; but by the time I’d finished reading their actual proposal I’d be livid. With the current lot, I read the headline and get pissed off, but by the time I’ve finished reading the proposal I’m not as annoyed. Welfare reform? Something needs doing and most of what has been said seems to fall into the category of ‘least-worst’. Student financing? If the status quo isn’t sustainable, then the ConLib proposals are better than most I’ve heard. NHS reform? Who the feck knows; when the government actually firm up their proposals we’ll get to decide if they’re good or not.

The same almost happened today again, with this story.

Minimum alcohol price levels planned by coalition
Plans for a minimum price for alcohol in England and Wales are to be announced by ministers.

Shops and bars will be prevented from selling drinks for less than the tax they pay on them.

The minimum pricing would work out at 38p for a can of weak lager and £10.71 for a litre bottle of vodka.

I am very strongly against the idea of minimum pricing for alcohol; I think that it’s ridiculous, puritanical and petty for the state to suggest that the vast majority should be chivvied into a form of behaviour because a very small section of society act contrary to society’s norms. But reading the detail, wherein the suggestion is only that drink can’t be sold for a price lower than the tax due on it, seems almost sensible. And if you can judge the quality of a man by the quality of his enemies, perhaps you can do the same for government policy. Look who’s against it and what they say:

  • The nannying arm of the BMA: “It’s not minimum pricing, it’s not really going to make that much difference,” said a spokeswoman. “What we’re calling for is tough action.”
  • Alcohol Concern1: “Duty is so low in the UK that it will still be possible to sell very cheap alcohol and be within the law2. The government needs to look again at a minimum price per unit of alcohol. That is the only evidence-based approach that will end cheap discounts once and for all.”
  • Drinkaware: “As supply and price are not the only factors driving alcohol misuse, it is imperative that we challenge people’s relationship with alcohol as well,”

If all those lot are against this, then I’d naturally align with those supporting the proposal.

As it is, I’d prefer to leave well alone. But if something has to be done – and clearly it does not – then the above is the least worst option I’ve seen.

1 – Alcohol Concern being a perfect fake charity.

2 – he is, of course, having a laugh. Duty is not low, and it hasn’t been low in my lifetime.

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