I have to say I was a little disconcerted the other night when I saw Glenn Campbell on Reporting Scotland holding aloft an Aldi two litre bottle of cider (the brand name is Taurus for all of you who want to grab a pre prohibition bargain). It wasn’t so much that he was outing my not-so-guilty and not-so-secret pleasure for a Saturday night in front of Strictly. No, the real shocker was the news the price would be hiked from a very reasonable £2 to a frankly quite ridiculous £5. Do I have a drink problem? Well, I do now – thanks to the Scottish Government getting the go-ahead to impose minimum pricing on alcohol.
‘But it will save lives and help the NHS‘ chorused Nicola Sturgeon and her chatterati pals who I can just imagine in Bute House toasting their success, no doubt with a nice little drop of malt or a glass of claret or some other reassuringly expensive drink which will remain unaffected by the ruling. Like a bunch of Marie Antoinettes without the intelligence or the dress sense. ‘Let them eat cake’ indeed – which brings me to my next point…
Obesity and Type II Diabetes make up the huge disgusting elephant in the Scottish NHS waiting room. But will the SG introduce a fat tax in order to address the problem? Probably not. Will they even re-direct resources to help promote a healthy lifestyle in poorer areas of Scotland? Well, if they haven’t done it by now… And do you know what the most scandalous/ironic aspect of this whole debacle is? Most people think it’s a tax. It’s not – the extra money will go to the producer/retailer and will not go to making some magic dust to sprinkle over the ugly gaping wound of alcoholism.
Yes, that’s right. I’m not a heartless bitch whose only concern is getting my cheap cider. I care about alcoholism, all kinds of addiction – whether it be junk food or crack cocaine – and the poverty trap which nurtures the hopelessness that sparks the desire for these things in the first place. In another life I was an alcohol counsellor and I know that people don’t become (and remain) alcoholics merely because there are cheap deals available. Alcoholics are addicts, and addicts will get their fix – whatever the price.
You can probably tell – as a responsible drinker with not a huge disposable income – I’m not best pleased. But apart from it being a hypocritical and ineffectual sticking-plaster for the ills of a very sick (in the most literal sense) nation it kind of screws up the whole idea of a free market economy.
So well done, nanny state for making both Adam Smith and Harry Lauder spin in their graves! Slainte!! *
* If you want a translation I believe you can tweet Alex Salmond but there may be a delay of a day or so…