BBC News, yesterday:
Plans for minimum drink pricing to tackle Scotland’s historic alcohol abuse problems will be revived if the SNP wins May’s Holyrood election… Addressing conference delegates in Glasgow, Ms Sturgeon said the SNP had acted like a government, while opponents acted disgracefully.
“Time and time again, it is Labour’s fitness to govern that has been called into question,” she said. “And nothing – nothing – demonstrated that more than their disgraceful conduct over minimum pricing for alcohol. “We won the backing of doctors, nurses, the police, children’s charities, churches, publicans – all of those who work on the frontline and see daily the damage cheap booze is doing to our country.”
The Economist, 101 years ago, Saturday, 5 June 1909. Page: 4. Issue: 3432
The annual report of the Prison Commissioners for Scotland… is a gloomy document, for the statistics show an unaccountable increase of crime and drunkenness… Happily, steps are now being taken by the Government… and we are told that inquiries are being made into the workings of the Inebriates Act…
There is a curious idea in the House of Commons that it is unfair to Scotland and Ireland to raise the price of spirits because it would diminish consumption. But surely the contrary is the truth. Nothing would contribute more or increase the happiness and wealth of the community.
Scotland (and the whole of Britain) clearly has a deeply ingrained drinking. 100 years of policy making, including the introduction of liscensing lawas to prevent people turning up drunk at armanents factories during the first world war, has not, and will not, deter us.
I would suggest that trying the same thing again and again and expecting a different result is a sign of madness. But that would be too charitable. I would suggest that these politicians don’t know this sort of thing has ever been tried before. Ignorance, not malice, is their problem.
The Big Society meets Edwardian Public Policy. I am positive both will fail, because they have both been tried before and found wanting.
Friendly societies were not really so friendly to the unhealthy, the weak, the female or the black, so we replaced them with a better system, the NHS in the UK and private-public insurance oon the continent.
Perhaps we can replace the hectoring, ignorant public policy with a more tolerant, responsive and infromed public policy, but I wouldn’t hold my breath with this lot.