Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Another SNP gimmick

Here’s an instance where I wholeheartedly agree with El Blogador. He suggests that Northern Ireland should resist following the Scottish government, should it go ahead with its plans to introduce a minimum price for alcohol. I concur with the thrust of his article and with the Scottish Conservative spokesman who described the strategy as ‘horribly flawed’.

Imposing a minimum price on alcohol sales is a short term gimmick, entirely consistent with the SNP’s style of government. Rather than tackling the problem of alcohol abuse at its root, these proposals are designed in order that Holyrood can conspicuously be seen to be doing something. It is a populist policy which will merely exacerbate the attendant problems which accompany alcoholism.

Alcohol abuse is largely a social issue and only changes in society and its attitudes will successfully alter behaviour which is associated with it. Prohibiting drinking to various extents, trying to price people out of buying alcohol, restricting its availability for consenting adults or changing the legal age at which young people can drink are all besides the point.

Efforts should be concentrated on education, on heightening awareness and on modifying people’s behaviour. And importantly, laws which already exist should be properly enforced. Outlets should be heavily fined for selling alcohol to children. Where crime is precipitated by drinking it should not be treated as if there are mitigating circumstances which make it less serious.

By the way, if you think that I’m being unduly cynical about the SNP and its largely cosmetic intentions on this issue, well the pictured ‘tonic wine’ will not even fall under the remit of the minimum pricing measures.

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