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Minimum Pricing: Battle lines are drawn

December 2nd, 2012 Posted in Uncategorized by

There is an article in the Mail Online today that will warm the hearts of every good liberal.

Whilst Home Office Minister Jeremy Browne MP has been gagged (as has Farming Minister David Heath MP,) on the topic of minimum pricing of alcohol, word has leaked out that Jeremy is clearly on the side of the angels:

“…friends of Mr Browne have told The Mail on Sunday that he disputes claims that the policy is certain to cut binge drinking – or reduce the number of pub fights.”

A source close to Mr Browne said: ‘Jeremy’s view is that the thug who has downed nine cans of lager is hardly going to think, “Oh dear, I can’t afford a tenth because of minimum pricing. I think I’ll go home to bed instead of starting a brawl.”

Needless to say his stance has meant that Tory Police Minister Damian Green has been given the task of speaking publicly in support of the policy. Jeremy is right of course. As is the assertion made on his behalf :

“Jeremy maintains that the middle-class woman in Oxfordshire who drinks a £10 bottle of Chablis every other night will not be affected because it won’t go up in price and she can afford it anyway,’ said the source.

‘But the working-class woman in Oldham who drinks a cheap bottle of Lambrini will be hit because it will cost more”

Well said that man. Is his, and other MP’s, opposition enough though? It would appear sadly that there is no ‘organised’ campaign against minimum pricing to date. It is not clear if this is because the supermarkets & drinks companies are following the strategy of appeasement, looking at the likely boost to their incomes such a policy will deliver regardless of the hurt it will cause their customers, or were genuinely taken by surprise. Perhaps they feel the policy is too absurd to worry about?

But history tells us that you need more than having right on your side and reasoned arguments to win against the relentless, rich and powerful lobbying health “charities”. With privileged access to policy makers, often funded by those they lobby, these fake charities rarely fail their paymasters in delivering the desired outcome in such “public” consultations.

There are signs of a resistance building. An e-petition against minimum pricing was created a while ago but has trebled signatures in the past 24 hours and an informative facebook page here (and an event to sign up to here) has appeared in the past couple of days (that from which we harvested much info – thanks!) .We have also seen the excellent Chris Snowdon step up to the plate with a must read report (co-authored by statistician John C. Duffy) “Minimum evidence for minimum pricing” and enjoyed his many and brilliant turns on the media. And of course we have the efforts of Pub Curmudgeon, Dick Puddlecote, Frank DaviesSpiked! ASI, IEA and TPA, (and many others) to count on. (We also hear tell of a newspaper campaign though can’t pin that one down right now).

Whether their efforts, combined with the fact that minimum pricing is illegal , fails the evidence test, is based on a flawed model, punishes the poor, the sensible and the moderate, and of course that public opinion is against it, is enough to win out against the might and money of the government’s own pet groups, on a mission to deliver Mr Cameron’s desired outcome, however remains to be seen. For now our thanks and appreciation to Jeremy (and many other MPs) for standing firm.

Ps if you want to get the minimum pricing widget (above) for your web site, click here (courtesy of the marvelous Pub Curmudgeon).

6 Responses to “Minimum Pricing: Battle lines are drawn”

  1. Chris Says:

    When pull comes to shove how will Jeremy vote – With his heart or his politically vulnerable head?

  2. Dave Atherton Says:

    At least you can say I am consistent, higher taxes on the rich means no increase in revenue. Higher taxes on the poor are just venal.

    What the government fails to acknowledge is that sensible drinking is good for you. If consumption falls any lower then mortality will increase.

  3. Duncan Stott (@DuncanStott) Says:

    As someone who has lived in both Oldham and Oxfordshire, I’d like to confirm that there are middle-class women in Oldham and working-class women in Oxfordshire.

  4. Séan Billings Says:

    We effectively had a minimum price for alcohol in Ireland for almost 20 years and alcohol sales went up dramatically (details: The idiots in the Dáil are still considering copying the UK in this.

    It’s like watching six year old playing football, they all mill around the ball, or where they mistakenly believe the ball to be.

  5. Psi Says:

    @ Duncan Scott

    Not quite the point. Equaly you could say the middle class person with a low disposable income (large rent payments) who drinks Lambrini will suffer more than a working class person living in social housing with a decent income (therefore higher disposable income) who drinks a more expensive wine. The point is the policy is not by any stretch of teh imagination liberal. It hits those with cheeper tastes the most.

  6. Paul McKeown Says:

    Of course, the evidence from around the world is that alcohol intake is economically elastic and that increasing cost to the consumer improves health outcomes. No doubt the Daily Wail, Good Old Uncle Farage and his army of spittle-fleckers from the Dog and Twelve Bore and the Thatcherites masquerading as Liberals on this website, will all deny that such evidence exists, or is soundly based. Never mind.

    Of course, they will also deny the economic liberal sine qua non that free markets can only exist so long as strong legal procedures exist to prevent monopolies and oligopolies price dumping to drive smaller competitors from their markets. Such as when supermarkets sell alcohol below cost price…

    That the Conservative Party has always stood on the side of rent seeking monopolies is well understood. That a “Liberal” website should take the side of the rent seekers is a disappointing betrayal of the historical tradition.