I was fortunate enough to catch ‘highlights’ of an interview with the wonderful Nicola Sturgeon on the news yesterday where she was banging on about minimum pricing in Scotland again.
I say fortunate, I actually mean incredibly unlucky.
I say wonderful, I actually mean disgusting, hectoring, self-important busybody.
I’ve since discovered an edition of Panorama where rabid lefty Joan Bakewell spent a half hour browbeating the ‘older’ citizen about their alcohol consumption, in what as far as I could see was a promotion and endorsement of minimum alcohol pricing by the BBC.
I barely know where to start, but I’ve decided to focus initially on the SNP’s thought process. Now, either the SNP really are different to all their competitors where they really do actually care about the health of the population rather than being obsessed with doing or saying anything that will get their/keep their hands on the levers of power (which seems unlikely to me), or they are dumber than a bag of hair.
Really? You’re looking at taking the legs of the brewers and distillers out from underneath them? In Scotland? You’re looking at taking the national pastime in Scotland and making it more expensive? And you think this is a good platform for re-election?
Now I’m as far away from Scotland as you can get without wearing a beret and developing an obsession for the music of Johnny Hallyday so I may be a little off the pace as far as local politics goes north of the border, but the LibDems, Labour and Conservatives must be really, amazingly, woefully bad if the SNP can propose this and still have a sporting chance of holding onto power.
What struck me most was Sturgeon’s complete lack of self-awareness, complete detachment from reality and this truly frightening attitude that she and her ilk are on some mission to save the people of Scotland from themselves.
The weasel stats were trotted out, according to statisticians, minimum pricing of 50p a (made up, no basis in science) unit could, note could, not would, save up to 300 lives a year in Scotland. I’d love to know how they came by that number, I can see a quack in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary shouting across A&E, ‘dammit, if booze was 50p a unit we could have saved this man!’
I just don’t see how you can possibly come to such a number, how can you correlate the price of an item with the mortality rate coming from its use? Do more people die pro-rata using a cheap bic than they do a nice fountain pen? It sounds like bollocks to me.
Also I’d like to know which deaths were included, is it limited to people who have engaged in years of alcohol abuse and died in agony as a result of the choices they have made? Does it include the guy who drinks responsibly, except for that one time when he’s celebrating a mate’s promotion/engagement/wedding/baby when he’s had one too many and stumbles out in front of the bus to Paisley?
I don’t see how the numbers are reliable. Additionally, one person saved falls in the parameters of up to 300. Is that reason to penalise the thousands of perfectly responsible drinkers?
So then we come to the next bleat, the cost to the NHS. Except of course that the treatment has already been paid for, both from NI contributions and the already very high tax which exists on alcohol. Let’s drop this cost thing, let’s drop this the NHS is free crap. Go price up the all-singing all-dancing BUPA care package on their website and then compare that figure with your NI deductions. Free? Bollocks. You’ve paid for it, through the nose. This attitude that the NHS can only be used if you’re not ill is rubbish.
But here’s the real nub of the matter. You see, politicians are stupid, they really are. Oh, they might have a degree in some guff from a decent Uni, but they’ve no ‘street smarts’, they’ve gone from school, to uni, to an internship, to parliament, they’ve never lived in the real world. They are imbued with this sense that people will follow them and not think creatively, because they’ve been trained to follow and not think creatively, and they are better, cleverer than the little people. They are only capable of judging the world around them on their own very limited plane and range of experiences.
This best manifests itself in their obsession with prohibition. They honestly think that if they declare something verboten, then nobody will do/have/engage in whatever it is they’ve prohibited. Problem solved.
Except of course, you and I know people aren’t like that. And so, minimum pricing will do nothing beyond cause an increase in the number of alcohol related deaths.
How so? Well as soon as you artificially inflate the price of a commodity, somebody will come in to undercut it, whether legally or not. So, by increasing the base price of alcohol on a whim, you will usher in the following chain of events:
An increase in the smuggling and theft of ‘legitimate’ alcohol. People will start using other supply lines, they won’t stop or cut back on their drinking, they’ll just get it somewhere else whether it is legit or not. Whether it is from England, Ireland, France or Belgium, huge amounts of booze will be moved across borders. Small convenience stores will sell moody booze, the man in the white van who sells the Polski fags will diversify into vodka, pinot grigio and Buckfast. When you see news reports now about people smashing in shop windows to get to the displays of fags, you’ll tomorrow see how they took the fags and the booze.
People will buy it, why? Because it is cheaper than from legit outlets. You think Angus McSporran cares about the tax take?
So this then causes a problem, the revenue is decreasing. The politician will do the only thing they know how to do in this situation, rather than relinquish the grip that caused the problem, they tighten it, they put the base price and the tax up again. Once again market economics comes into play, the sensible drinkers now get priced out of the market, so they go to Moody Ahmed’s shop and make gentle enquiries about the under counter stock, they go to the bootfair and sidle up to the white van man, they have more money, so demand pushes the non-legit stock price up.
The bottom of the market gets squeezed, but meeting their demand is still profitable, especially when you now start selling counterfeit booze, made with harpic and formaldehyde. The makers and retailers of the counterfeit stuff don’t care. You can’t trace them and summons them, Watchdog isn’t going to run an expose on them, they have no brand to protect or PR concerns. They’ll sell any old crap.
Just as dangerous, people will start to distil their own, from God knows what. You’ll get white whisky and brown vodka, you’ll get exploding stills and demolished houses, you’ll get people who have very real, very serious health problems from drinking moonshine or counterfeit booze, very quickly.
People will not stop drinking, and your minimum price plans are a charter for the reckless, the criminal and a huge increase in death, blindness, poisoning, amputations.
This is why I always bang on about the danger of the State. They simply are not equipped to do the job they want to do, they are incompetent and they are dangerous.