Browse > Home / Uncategorized / Binge-drinking Britain or the New Temperance Movement

| Subcribe via RSS

Binge-drinking Britain or the New Temperance Movement

November 12th, 2010 Posted in Uncategorized by

Rowdy behaviour; fights with police officers; urinating and vomiting in the street. It’s just another day in binge-drinking Britain.

Except that binge-drinking Britain appears to be a myth, according to a recent Harris poll conducted for the Metro.

The poll of 1,029 adults, conducted between 7 and 14 September, found that only one in ten drank more than 15 units of alcohol a week (over the recommended limit for women – men are recommended to drink no more than 21), while almost one in three drank no alcohol at all and almost as many drank a mere one to four units.

According to the Metro, This is not the first study to question dire warnings about an escalation in alcohol abuse in Britain. Earlier this month, the British Beer and Pub Association said the amount of alcohol knocked back by Britons fell at its sharpest rate in 62 years in 2009.

So what explains the disparity between the media obsession with “Binge-drinking” and the recent decline in drinking and apparent moderation amongst our population?

Well, of course we have to be cautious about the findings of one poll. And as the BBPA’s noted, alcohol consumption may have fallen recently (which may be either a return to, or a temporary shift from, trend). We also need to be aware that it is these days very easy to send a film crew down to a town centre and film a few dozen people behaving badly, and extrapolate this to the wider country. There may very well be scores of towns with scores of people passing out or becoming aggressive, but in a population of 60 million that is still a tiny minority.

However, we have also to be conscious of the many and varied groups that benefit from spreading health-scares. From quangocrats and the health establishment to politicians and anti-drink charities, there is a new temperance movement on the march, many of which are gaining wealth and power by attacking individual liberty.

Lest there be any doubt about the extent to which these people despise and patronise the general public, let us quote Don Shenker, of Alcohol Concern, who said that the Metro figures could be explained by the fact that “most people find it hard to remember how much they’ve drunk…” In other words, he would rather assume that the respondents must have had alcohol-induced memory-loss than accept that the Harris poll challenged his negative view of British society.

The new temperance movement is just part of a drift away from a tolerant and free society to one where powerful elites use legislation to dictate how the masses behave, all in the name of our own good and the good of the public finances. One can only hope that the new coalition government has more faith in, and respect for, the general public than their Labour predecessors.

This is important not only for our free society, but also for the Lib Dems future electoral prospects. When the Liberal Party was thrashed by the Tories in the 1874 General Election, William Gladstone blamed the Victorian drinks industry for its campaign against his government’s licensing restrictions. “We have been drowned in a torrent of gin and beer,” he lamented. Perhaps what actually washed his government away was the voters’ resentment at the Liberals’ attempt to interfere in their private lives.

"Come on! Get up. It's last orders!"

"Come on! Get up. It's last orders!"

3 Responses to “Binge-drinking Britain or the New Temperance Movement”

  1. Dave Atherton Says:

    I have been a naughty boy Tom, I usually read LV most days and missed this one, especially as the facts on alcohol consumption have got in the way of government’s story. Firstly the 21 and 14 units of men and women is not based on any scientific evidence. Interviewed in 2006 he “..told The Times that the committee’s epidemiologist had confessed that “it’s impossible to say what’s safe and what isn’t” because “we don’t really have any data whatsoever”.

    Mr Smith, a former Editor of the British Medical Journal, said that members of the working party were so concerned by growing evidence of the chronic damage caused by heavy, long-term drinking that they felt obliged to produce guidelines. “Those limits were really plucked out of the air. They were not based on any firm evidence at all. It was a sort of intelligent guess by a committee,”

    However the papers that have been published said:

    “One found that men drinking between 21 and 30 units of alcohol a week had the lowest mortality rate in Britain. Another concluded that a man would have to drink 63 units a week, or a bottle of wine a day, to face the same risk of death as a teetotaller.”

    Bottoms up!

  2. Tom Papworth Says:

    Thank you, David. I take it that you are referring to the story in the Times in 2007.

    That’s a pretty embarrassing ‘smoking gun’ for the medical establishment!

  3. Dave Atherton Says:

    Hi Tom, in my mad rush to put something out I missed a paragraph out and yes that is the article.

    For some more cheery news those who us who ruin expensive designer outfits on ladies, spilling our red wine, this Californian study demonstrated the effect of red wine on lung cancer, even in smokers.

    “Results: There was a significant linear decrease in risk of lung cancer associated with consumption of red wine among ever-smokers: hazard ratio (HR), 0.98; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 0.96-1.00 for increase of 1 drink per month. This relationship was slightly stronger among heavy smokers (≥20 pack-years): HR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.93-1.00. When alcoholic beverage consumption was examined by frequency of intake, consumption of ≥1 drink of red wine per day was associated with an approximately 60% reduced lung cancer risk in ever-smokers: HR, 0.39; 95% CI, 0.14-1.08. No clear associations with lung cancer were seen for intake of white wine, beer, or liquor.

    Conclusion: Moderate red wine consumption was inversely associated with lung cancer risk after adjusting for confounders. Our results should not be extrapolated to heavy alcohol consumption. (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2008;17(10):2692–9)”