A month to go before Alastair Darling presents his first budget to the Commons. This year, as all years, we can expect the any of the pleasures that we get in life a good hammering – e.g. alcohol. Say what you like about it, yes it may well be worse than a cocktail of heroin and crack cocaine that is taken while sharing an audience with the devil himself, but the fact is most of can handle it and don’t need the kind assistance of our government to make it so expensive that only an absolute addict would risk financial ruin from buying it.
Where is the logic in all this? Firstly the government says that we are nation that is dying because of extreme alcohol abuse so we must be encouraged to stop drinking it. Anything more than 21 units a week is likely to cause a slow and miserable death. Absolute nonsense! Please can someone show me the evidence that say we should only be drinking this much alcohol a week? It is a completely arbitrary figure plucked out the air. Yes drinking a lot is not good for you. But to actually get liver damage you have to drink a serious amount of booze – the sort of levels that most of the population do not embark on. This 21 units a week figure is a smokescreen and con. So why the majority should be told that we should pay more is beyond me.
Secondly, we are told that that binge drinking is a problem. Yes it is. But how many people in our town centres are getting in brawls have been sat at home on the sofa with a nice bottle of Rioja before deciding that actually they are bit bored of watching the Channel 4 news and get the bus in to town for good punch up with the nearest passerby? Not many I suspect. No, I suspect that most of the brainless fools have been down the pub drinking a load of alcopops and spirits. So why are the government focussing on the booze from the supermarkets when it the booze in the pubs that (in the town centres) that are attracting all the trouble is beyond me also.
Then we are told it is underage drinking that is the real scourge on our society? Well isn’t there a law against this already? Why should all those people legitimately buying alcohol have to pay more because a load of kids aren’t be held to account by the law? Crack down on the shop keepers or landlords that do it, crack down on these kids’ parents – hell, arrest the blighters themselves and dish out a bit of justice. Don’t make me pay for it though.
Why are we be told that these are all the reasons for raising the tax on alcohol even though when you actually think about it, there is no logic in the premises whatsoever? Because it sounds like it makes sense and is a nice little earner for the Chancellor. And, after all, it fits in with the worst mantra that New Labour ever had – “it is better to be seen to be doing something than nothing at all – even if that something does nothing”.