Thursday, 2 September 2010
Scots Wha Hae
The 45p limit is higher than expected and, sensibly, opposition parties have vowed to reject the proposal. Labour have argued the measure would result in a £140 million windfall for major supermarkets chains, while the drinks industry claimed it would unfairly target the poorest families.
Under her proposals, a two-litre bottle of Tesco cider would jump from £1.32 to £3.78, whilst the price of a bottle of Asda’s own label vodka would rise from £7.97 to £11.81. However, although the price of major branded lagers such as Stella Artois, Carlsberg and Tennent’s would also rise, albeit by very little, the overwhelming majority of branded drinks are already sold for more than the 45p minimum unit price.
Still Ms Sturgeon remains fervent in her belief and saves the big guns for last. Not only would it bring “significant” health benefits, including 50 fewer alcohol-related deaths in the first year, 1,200 fewer hospital admissions, it would also save the Scottish NHS £5.5M.
Move this on 10 years and things look even better. There would be 225 fewer deaths per year, 4,200 fewer hospital admissions annually and an £83 million reduction in health costs over the decade.
Wow. Fantastic. Amazing. Who could possibly argue with those figures? No one. Except...they are of course complete nonsense and seem to come straight from the pages of a Harry Potter novel. These projections conveniently mirror her goals and are a blatant attempt at self-justification. They lack any credible foundation and do not stand up to independent scrutiny.
Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour health spokesman, also hit the nail on the head with: “Minimum unit pricing is effectively a tax on the poor paid directly to the shareholders of the big supermarkets.”
But last word perhaps should go to Gavin Partington, spokesman for the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. He summed up the futility of the whole idea. “Surely ministers cannot believe that making a hazardous drinker pay an extra £1.08 per week is going to solve the problem.”