Stop the poor drinking

From the government which brought you selective schools only for the rich, and driving in London only for the rich, we now might end up with drinking alcohol only for the rich.

The government presumably sanctioned their adviser to demand higher prcies for alcoholic drinks. Is this being nice to the rich – letting them have first choice at the off licence – or being nasty to the rich, by letting their livers rot first?

Presumably the government will just borrow more to stock the Ministerial drinks cupboards at the higher prices. Doubtless they will still be able to afford a snifter in the back of the Ministerial limo as the taxpayer takes care of their Congestion Charges.


  1. Stuart Fairney
    March 15, 2009

    The government likes the concept of the ‘tipping point’ so they might want to consider if an increase in alcohol taxes will increase or decrease bootlegging which in some areas is very widespread indeed.

    Of course it won’t have the impact they claim. It’s just another tax dressed up as a health initiative.

    1. alan jutson
      March 16, 2009

      Am I missing the point here.

      If the problem is excess drinking, then surely the solution is simple.

      Fine those who are drunk and disorderly.
      Charge them for Hospitalisation if drunk, or alchoholics.
      This is a self imposed condition, as are drugs.

      Why should the General Public pay.

      In any other market this would be called a Cartel which is illegal.

      Perhaps the Politicians are not aware of the difference between unlawful and illegal

      They probably think illegal is a sick bird !!!!!

  2. no one
    March 15, 2009

    yea and they want me to tell them where im going when i leave the country? half the time i havnt even started to think about it as im getting on the dover ferry – are they completely mad?

    and carry id cards?

    2009 is getting more and more like 1984

    1. adam
      March 15, 2009

      I agree it is getting very serious now. Time to leave soon before its too late. The only question is where.

      1. adam
        March 15, 2009

        compare with this

        ” You couldn’t make it up. One of the (protesters -ed) screeching hatred at British troops this week turns out to be employed as a baggage handler at Luton Airport. “

  3. Brian Tomkinson
    March 15, 2009

    Is it not the case that politicians and particularly ministers pay for very little out of their own pockets? As such they are completely out of touch with normal expenditure for the masses. If they did they would realise just how high the cost of living is despite their warnings about deflation. They are inflation junkies as they pay for nothing and have the best index linked pensions in the land.

  4. Denis Cooper
    March 15, 2009

    Now on this one, I do know that the EU has an alcohol strategy …

    because they’re very concerned about all aspects of Public Health …

    and this is the Commission website …

    So it may be that they’re just going with the flow.

  5. a-tracy
    March 15, 2009

    If ministers want free alcohol they should be charged a benefit in kind for the full value of this perk, add in the John Lewis List perk at the same time (why John Lewis by the way, why not Debenhams or Selfridges or Argos?). If the ministers had to pay tax on the full cost of the perk I’d guess many of them would decide they could cope with soft drinks at work like the rest of us with tea or coffee (with us paying per cup) or water for free out of the tap.

    Its always better to lead from the front too, so if the Ministerial drinks cupboard goes it gives a good message to the public at large don’t you think?

  6. Obnoxio The Clown
    March 15, 2009

    And chocolate, don’t forget chocolate. That’s next.

  7. Mark Shillaker
    March 15, 2009

    Ah – you know desperation has set in when the prohibitionists start getting the upper hand. And of course we all know how well that went in the US don’t we? The most fantastic manifestation of the law of unintended consequences of all time. Started out on a moralistic mission to save souls and ended up pretty much inventing organized crime as we know it! Nice one.

  8. chris southern
    March 15, 2009

    Don’t they realize that setting a minimum price per unit isn’t a cure.
    it’s the outlets that are selling the super cheap alchohol (like gin lane once did) that is the problem.

    A licence holder is supposed to be responsible, just revoke the licences from the super markets that sell the alchohlo dirt cheep as a loss leader to get people in.
    stop penalising the people for the greed of the large corperations (it’s the large corperations along with big goverment that are causing the problems!)

  9. Neil Craig
    March 15, 2009

    The Labour party was once a mass working class movement & it is impossible to believe that if it still was it would do this.

    Its class base is now the beneficiaries of government spending, the more PC, nannying & divorced from aquaintance with the working class the better.

  10. Cliff.
    March 15, 2009

    Labour’s approach to many things is similar to the old idea of punishing the whole class for one kid chatting. The only thing is, we the public cannot put peer pressure on the one to modify their behaviour and, they don’t feel guilty about getting us all punished. Labour seem to be treating us adults, more like children every day whilst, treating kids more like adults. What a crazy world we live in.

    It seems to me that Labour have destroyed so many of our industries and now they want to completely destroy our drinks industry.
    The problems of alcohol can ONLY be solved through education, the more Labour treats alcohol as a forbidden fruit, the more it will appear attractice to kids.

    Labour is never the solution, they are always the problem!!

  11. Bazman
    March 15, 2009

    All the smokers I have noticed now smoke the ‘cheap’ brands or roll their own from smuggled tobacco now they are looking down the barrel of six quid a packet for the tax paid premium brands. I was an Embassy Regal eagle man who wrapped it up at £3.60 a pack. No prizes for guessing where an extreme alcohol tax is going, sugar sales will soar, though something could be said about pocket money ciders without doubt aimed and priced for children. Maybe it should only be available on prescription which at £7.20 is about the price of half a litre of reasonable quality tax paid vodka.

  12. Blank Xavier
    March 15, 2009

    BBC report;

    “Carys Davis of Alcohol Concern said that setting a minimum price for alcohol would help deter youngsters from binge drinking.” on Alcohol Concern;

    “Created by the British government in 1985.

    According to its 2007/08 accounts, out of a total income of £903,246, Alcohol Concern received £515,000 (57%) from the Department of Health (£400,000 unrestricted and £115,000 in restricted funds). It received just £4,991 in public donations.”

    I don’t think I have to add anything to that.

    1. Acorn
      March 15, 2009

      BX, a very good point. There are numerous examples of these so called “charities”. They are effectively Quangos and assume the position of government spin machines when required. Their employees are de-facto public sector employees who are “off balance sheet”.

  13. Johnny Norfolk
    March 15, 2009

    I think we are going to get more like this. They know they are finnished so they will make as many suffer as possible before they go.

    They just cannot stop interfearing in everything. this is not what government sghould be about.

  14. Stewart Knight
    March 15, 2009

    Labour banned smoking in public places and have tried to tax them into submission, but on insofar as they know people will pay..otherwise they would lose revenue, and also…the law doesn’t apply in their own Westminster bars.

    They now want to tax alcohol into submission, but again, not in their own Westminster bars where they enjoy massive subsidies at the pubic expense.

    If they raise the price, then people will start to brew their own more and also you will see a massive rise in illegal stills, then you will see alcohol related problems.

    Why not take this up John and start a PUBLIC campaign to name and shame Labour about the smoking in Westminster and the massive subsidies too? Most, if not virtually all, of the public are unaware. Now there is a point scoring exercise against Labour, and quite right too.

  15. StevenL
    March 15, 2009

    If this goes through it will affect quite a few things that regularly appear in my shopping basket.

    For example, last week I bought a bottle of Tesco’s Bulgarian Merlot for £3.29. It’s quite nice, so’s the Cab Sav in the same range. It used to be £2.88 before the pound tanked. It’s certainly far nicer than any French or Italian red wine you could get for the same price. Hardly fair on the Bulgarians is it?

    I reckon whoever brews those stubby French supermarket lagers will suffer too.

  16. Phil Kean
    March 15, 2009

    Forget the poor for once

    Why does Labour Socialism always penalise the responsible citizen because of the misdemeanours of the irresponsible?

    All Labour have to do is sit back and wait for academics and economists to make their case for them.
    They did it with Q/E, smoothing the way for this disastrous policy that will further damage our long term prospects for recovery.

    All around where I live pubs are going bust. They blame taxes, employment laws and Labour’s recession. All they need now is another Labour nail in their coffin.

  17. StevenL
    March 15, 2009

    What about this spin on the news that the proposal will attach a price-tag of £4.50 to “the average bottle of Chardonnay”?

    I’ve come up with this formula to work out the minimum price of your favourite tipple under the new proposals:

    Vol = Volume of beverage in ml
    ABV = Alcohol by volume expressed as a decimal fraction (i.e. 13% = 0.13)

    [(vol x ABV) / 10] x 0.5 = Minimum price in £

    So a bottle of Australian Chardonnay (13.5%) = £5.06

    An average bottle of Chilian Cab Sav (14.5%) = £5.43

    Average bottle of red Bordeaux (12.5%) = £4.69

    I recently bought 6 bottles of Leffe Blonde for £6 at Tesco. Would I have been allowed to do this under the new proposals?

    Minimum price for a bottle of Leffe Blonde = £1.09

    4 x 500ml cans of 5% ABV lager = £5.00 (no more 8 Kronenburg 1664 for £6 offers!)

    Try it with a few of your favourite tipples.

  18. alan jutson
    March 15, 2009

    Solution is simple

    Grow your own grapes and make your own wine.

    Believe me it can be very good.

    I am told that one mature vine can make 24 bottles !!!!!!.

    1. Bazman
      March 16, 2009

      The grape vine will then become the new cannabis plant!

  19. Matthew Reynolds
    March 15, 2009

    This government is enough to turn anyone to drink ! By raising duties on alcohol they will just do what PC governments have gone on doing – getting extra cash while claiming to care about public health. In reality people just buy their booze in Calais say while smuggling rises and legitimate vendors suffer – so honesty is punished. Higher duty just reduces revenue while people carry on drinking. It is a revenue raising exercise pure & simple.

    If they want to stop smugglers profiting then just align our tobacco & alcohol duties with EU levels so that we keep jobs, business and tax revenues from that in the UK by becoming more tax competitive. Adam Smith was dead right about lowering the duty to curb smuggling. As a moderate sensible drinker who has about half a bottle of wine per night why should I be punished for drunkard thugs who disgrace themselves on Saturday nights by having high taxes on alcohol ?

    The high excise duty tax regime for public health has been and always will be an utter con. I know that smokers & heavy drinkers cost the NHS lots of money but surely in excise duty & VAT they must pay for that health-care already ? Also every time a drinker or smoker dies before retirement age then the pensions crisis is less costly. So the government likes this high excise duty policy as they can claim to be trying to moderate public health problems while in reality they know it won’t work and can just collect the tax revenue while people drink & smoke and thus defuse the problem of excess life expectancy.

    Has anyone done a study into what costs the NHS more – healthy people in old age living longer or people needing treatment & dying before 65 because they drink and/or smoke ?

    It could be interesting……..

    1. Matt
      March 16, 2009

      This will tell you about smokers

      (I cannot vouch for it so please confirm for yourself the validity of it)

  20. Steve Tierney
    March 15, 2009

    I almost hope they do it.

    Millions of people who work their asses off every day and then have one key way to ‘wind down’ suddenly find that their social activity has been taxed into oblivion?

    Do they not realise this is a drinking nation? I don’t mean to demean anybody, I have no problem at all with us being a country that “likes a drink.”

    Sure, there are people who don’t drink, don’t want to drink, aren’t interested in drinking. But there are a whole, whole, whole lot who do.

    Labour seem to think they can do anything they want, with no regard to anybody else. They seem to believe they are dictators ruling over a terrified mass. I suspect, if they go after alcohol like this, they might finally manage to stir that “mass” to action. they mght then discover that they weren’t “terrified” after all. Just a little merry.

  21. David b
    March 15, 2009

    I m sorry to spoil the party, but no-one is suggesting at this point increasing the taxes on alcohol. Rather, like a minimum wage, a minimum price is being suggested. For the majority of the population the impact will be unnoticed. The better quality stuff will be the same price as it is now. Its the cheap moonshine that is being attacked. Its the cheap drink promo’s that are being targeted. Its your supermarket selling at below cost to draw in customers.

    The impact is likely to be a reduction in sales of high octane junk – since you will be able to buy good stuff for the same price. Less binge drinking in happy hours. Less stockpiling of booze because you get 2 slabs for the price of one. Some smaller pubs being able to remain in business in competition with the Wethersp##n warehouses. Your corner shop being able to compete with Asda – cos they both need to make a profit from the booze sales.

    It will probably see more parallel imports. I’ve seen the feeding frenzy in Calais for the cheapest rot gut. But if it reduces overall consumption amongst the highest risk groups, then it will be a good thing.

    When I first drank wine a glass was about 1/5th of a standard bottle, and had about 7% alcohol. I know people who don’t think they have a drink problem , but who routinely knock over a glass that is half a bottle at 14% alcohol.

    We have a problem. What else constructive can we do to help fight it?

    1. Denis Cooper
      March 16, 2009

      “I’ve seen the feeding frenzy in Calais for the cheapest rot gut.”

      Only since the EU decreed that each adult traveller must be allowed to bring unlimited quantities of alcoholis drinks back into the country duty-free, provided that it is all for his personal consumption.

      Rather than our previous, longstanding, and infinitely more sensible, system, whereby each adult traveller was allowed to bring limited – “de minimus” – quantities back into the country duty-free, regardless of who would consume them.

      How much do you think we’re now spending on checking on whether the driver of the van has drunk all that booze he brought back, or has illegally flogged some of it?

      Same with cigarettes.

    2. alan jutson
      March 17, 2009

      I will guarantee that the duty will go up on all booze.

      Its just too good an opportunity to miss. Just wait and see.

      The solution to the problem is fine those who are drunk and dissorderly in a public place.

      But that means 8 hours for a policeman to fill in forms, and we do not have enough police for that, or enough cells to put all the drunks in.

      Why tax the majority who are sensible.
      Because you need the money.

      1. StevenL
        March 17, 2009

        Simply build purpose-built short-term custody centres and start enforcing breach of the peace again.

        If you get banged up on a Friday or Saturady night you are locked up until the next available court (Monday morning), fed really awful microwave meals and have to sleep on a blue gym-mat style matress with no blankets.

        You agree to be bound over to keep the peace (make the amount a deterent, say £500) and hopefully lesson learned.

        Most of the paperwork could be carried out by civilians, the Bobby could simply hand over a photocopy of his/her contemperaneous notes for the civilian officer to import the details onto the relevant systems/forms.

        1. alan jutson
          March 18, 2009

          Absolutely agree.

          It all seems so simple, thats why it will not happen.

          Governments always want to do it the expensive and complicated way.
          It would seem that most MPs have never been in private business (our host excluded) and thus do not know the word efficient/cost effective.

          Its not exactly rocket science is it.

    3. Derek W. Buxton
      March 17, 2009

      What a stupid comment, are you perchance an overpaid public sector worker? It will make a vast difference to millions of pensioners and others on low pay. So we can’t have a drink because you don’t think we should, who do you think you are. I am sick and tired of these prissy people who stick their long noses in other people’s business. You and Donaldson do not know what we the people want or deserve, so shut it.


      1. David b
        March 17, 2009

        I detest the overpaid public sector as much as you do sir, but I accept that some services must be provided by the state, and that taxes must be levied to provide those services. State pensions are not paid by charitable donations.

        If there were no speed limits we’d have an epidemic of speeding – funnily enough, perhaps by youths just past their (compulsory) test. If we had no drink driving statutes, how many more of those youths would throw caution to the wind ?

        We have historically cheap alcohol. You can buy mountains of the stuff with ease. And if your larder has twice as much beer as you intended to buy because Tesco gave you a free slab along with the one you were going to buy, well you can always temper your consumption I’m sure. Until you fall over at least. And we have a reputation for our moderate drinking.

        It is a sad reflection on our political class ( and one which I do share ), that we expect them to cheat us. We expect them to stealthily hyke taxes and pretend it’s green, or it’s for sports provision ( lottery ), when we know it’s for their expenses, wars or some other pointless waste. But the notion that the idea of stopping Tesco giving you that free ( at a loss it appears at times ) slab of beer is not a desirable thing is perverse. The specific proposal is not a tax rise. It is a minimum price. Nothing to do with taxes.

        Now, if you want to drink yourself to death feel free. Take all the drugs you want. Smoke yourself to oblivion, go for it. But when you have Cirrhosis, Cancer or an O/D I assume you expect the taxpayer’s health care system to pick up the pieces? And the health issues are just the tip of an iceberg of (anti-)social problems.

        I repeat what I said above. What constructive ideas do you propose to tackle the underlying problem?

        Reply: I’ll stick to constructive ideas on how to mend the economy.I look forward to your thoughts on how to tackle binge drinking.

    4. Brett Trevalyan
      March 17, 2009

      Hold on a minute! Can nobody here spot an obvious stealth tax bandwagon when they see it? I mean, it’s staring us in the face! The government is absolutely desperate to raise more tax – they’re going to use this. Can’t you just hear them now…..”in line with the Governments policy of saving the British people from themselves, we have decided to increase……….”

      Wait and see.

  22. Pat
    March 15, 2009

    We also have the bright idea of giving a £2000 voucher for a new car for every 9 year old car scrapped. So at taxpayers expense we scrap a lot of usable vehicles, cause the expenditure of needless energy (both human and fossil) in replacing them, effectively put a minimum price on vehicles- and since the current buyers of older second hand cars will be priced out of the market reduce after time the size of the market. I wonder how cleaners will get to work if this is establised? Or perhaps they’ll all get pay rises so that they can afford the extra for transport. Or perhaps there just won’t be any, after all we can afford increased benefits can’t we.

    Reply: A good critique of the latest panic thinking

  23. Mr Ecks
    March 15, 2009

    Mind your own Business

  24. Adrian Peirson
    March 15, 2009

    No, it’s because it has been decided we are to become an islamic state, two MEP have said, we should be nice to muslims so that WHEN they become the majority, they will be nice to us.
    The popes aid has said ‘attempts to islamify the west cannot be denied.
    Children are being punished at school for not praying to allah, Blears is saying all schools must now teach islam.

    Children as young as 5 are being labelled as racist if they say no to spicy food.

    The list is truly endlesss and the evidence is overwhelming, the deliberate subversion of our society, while Cameron goes on record saying our broken society should embrace Islam.
    This is just one of many many many pieces of the jigsaw.

    Of course if you undermine parental and school discipline, teach children about sex at an early age, undermine morality, the church, marriage, promote 24hr drinking, of course society will collapse.

    The EU elites want us and our children under the dual jackboot of a deliberately engineered police state AND sharia law.

    Reply: We believe in toleration and freedom of belief and expression under the law. I do not know of any plan to put us under Sharia law. We frame our laws through a democratic Parliament – and too many through an undemocratic EU.

    1. StevenL
      March 16, 2009

      I’m sorry Adrian, your conspiracy theories don’t add up.

      How will the ‘New World Order’ banksters you’re always telling us about inflate and deflate us into oblivion under their evil fractional reserve banking system if usury is made illegal under Sha’ria law?

      1. Adrian Peirson
        March 16, 2009

        There won’t be a banking system as we know it, we are to be chipped.

  25. Simon
    March 15, 2009

    The Tories haven’t got a very good record on drink with Boris banning booze on the tube. The fact that it was the first thing he did upon being elected makes it even worse. Punishing the law abiding majority for the sins of the few. Very New Labour. I didn’t hear much opposition to the draconian smoking ban either. Nor have I heard much opposition to bending the rules on smoking for the G20 summit so a few foreign politicians who want to smoke are accomadated while struggling small UK businesses receive no such consideration in their fight to stay in business with draconian enforcement and heavy fines for Landlords who transgress, not least from Tory Councils.

    Can we expect a Tory campaign to extend the same conditions to UK businessmen as is afforded to foreign politicians and all the other hangers on who will attend the G20? I doubt it. Cameron and co seem too frightened of all the fake charity rent-a-quotes and other loudmouths who want to control our lives.

    1. StevenL
      March 16, 2009

      You’re right, they are scared of the anti-smoking lobby. As soon as any serious politican steps out of line they threaten them from what I’ve heard.

  26. Matt
    March 16, 2009

    Am I the only one who thought this got just a bit too much pre release publicity?

    So all weekend we are told that some research has suggested putting the price of beer up and then lo and behold first thing Monday Gordon comes along to save the day!

    Thanks Gordo – I always knew you’d see me and my can of White Lightning right.

    Maybe I’m getting cynical but strikes me as populist posturing of the highest order. Either that or trying to cover up the fact they haven’t got “the shreds” pension back yet.

  27. Chuck Unsworth
    March 16, 2009

    Home brew is the answer – probably to everything and maybe permanently. But what on earth is a Chief Medical Officer doing involving himself in matters of taxation? He is not required to produce legislative solutions to problems, is he? Frankly this is a naked political move by a not very clever would-be politician.

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