Get ready to be outraged. Really outraged. Are you ready yet? Are you really ready? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Tonight’s Manchester Evening News led with a humdinger of a story. You could feel the outrage from a foot away. A couple of things immediately struck me about the article. Firstly, it’s a non-story. But the famously parsimonious MEN always likes to make a crisis out of a drama and if it can be patronising, sensational and or just plainly wrong; so much the better.
Secondly, the tone is laughable. It leads with the fact that the cheap tramp juice contains more alcohol units than men should consume in a WEEK. Yes, you heard me, a WEEK. OMG. Call out the army. Call out the navy. But, (yawn) hold on, aren’t these the same units that, by the government’s own admission, are imaginary and therefore have no empirical basis? Erm...moving on.
Well what about the price then? It’s three times less than the proposed minimum unit price. Indeed it is three times less than yet another discredited figure plucked out of thin air. And what if is? We’re supposedly living in a free market, are we not? Of course cheap booze for the proletariat is to be frowned upon and there is clear frustration for the MEN that it cannot prove below cost selling.
Yes, but cheap booze is bad for you. Have you seen the 500,000+ alcohol related hospital admissions? That’s clever, linking the two. Well it would be if we didn’t know that’s another inflated figure that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. But let’s work with it anyway. Just how many of these people actually buy their booze from B&M?* Or any of the other mentioned brands? After this free publicity, probably lot's more.
The truth is that it’s a tiny percentage of an increasingly declining market. It’s not called tramp juice for nothing. And it’s not exactly atypical of the market as a whole. But, as with all propaganda pieces, they have cherry picked the unusual in order to get their message across.
My favourite bit is the quote from Elizabeth Burns; who claims that the survey showed that booze has never been available more freely for a lower price. Erm...no it doesn’t and no it isn’t.
I eagerly await the riposte article that puts the facts right: that generally booze is dearer then ever and that people are actually drinking less of it, not more. But with the MEN’s track record, I’m not holding my breath.
*I do know someone who buys their booze from B&M. But he swears it's just the Oakham Citra.