The worst fears of all reasonable minded people look set to have finally come true. In a giant pincer movement not seen since the Ardennes in 1944, the government is poised to deliver several knockout blows to the drinking classes.
It’s reported today that David Cameron has personally given the go-ahead to introduce a minimum alcohol price of 40p a unit in England. If that wasn’t enough, legislation will also be introduced to ban supermarket multi-buy offers. Both of these measures are staggering in their depth and stupidity.
Now, it’s no secret that I don’t expect David Cameron and his Eton chums to run the country very well. Rises in unemployment, poverty and social unrest are unwelcome, but predictable. However, presumably they have some sort of political philosophy guiding them. Or should have.
I’ve always been led to believe-and often been told so by those of a blue persuasion, that the basis of their beliefs is less state intervention and a commitment to the so-called free market. Today David Cameron stands stripped of any such political compass and is revealed not only to those outside of his own party, but to those within, as an empty vessel devoid of ideological integrity.
The effects of these planned draconian measures would be considerable. For example, Tesco and Sainsbury were offering a two-for-£20 deal on a 20-pack of Strongbow cider. This works out at 21p a unit. However, minimum pricing would raise this to £37.50. Likewise 20 cans of Stella-44 units of alcohol-would go from £10 to £17.60.
Of course, it’s not only beer. Asda’s 3-for-£10 wine offer would be now solely for those wines under 11%. So how does one defend the indefensible? Well, expect to hear how it will lead to 50,000 fewer crimes this year and other outlandish, unsubstantial claims. And how many times will the catchphrase “beer is cheaper than water” be repeated?
As to the cost of all this; well, the government says the average drinker will 'only' have to pay £23 extra a year. As we know, the government’s idea of what an average drinker is doesn’t match reality. The real figure is likely to be much higher-well over a £100 in many cases. The government also says the supermarkets won’t pocket the extra cash, but use it to lower the cost of other goods. But, of course, they won’t be forcing them to do so.It’s enough to drive you to drink. If you can afford it.