DISTILLERIES and breweries will be exempt from laws targeting alcohol displays in shops, the Scottish Government said yesterday.
The move comes after industry fears that visitor attractions may suffer a knock-on effect of legislation aimed at reducing alcohol abuse.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "We are not anti-alcohol, but Scotland has got its relationship with the bottle out of kilter. It's not the drink, it's how we're drinking – we need to get things back in balance."
OK, look past the laughable claim of his administration not being anti-drink for a minute, and try to understand the situation MacAskill is now in thanks to his short-sighted pals at Holyrood.
The SNP in Scotland have embarked on a stated aim of stigmatising all forms of alcohol consumption in order to achieve their own interpretation of acceptable limits. Their blunt instruments of choice are minimum alcohol pricing, and the hiding of the McEwans from their electorate, who they believe to be merely dribbling, mentally-deficient drones, incapable of making their own decisions in life. Stick a bottle of whisky in front of them, and they will be forced to buy it, apparently.
No, really. That is what he has said himself.
"Our regulations to prevent alcohol being displayed in more than one area of a shop were designed to prevent alcohol being displayed all over the store to encourage impulse buying."
There they were, the scots, all set to buy their milk and eggs for the week, when they walked past a shelf of cider and just had to blow the housekeeping on it. They're all thick up there you know.
The problem is that the scottish people have, for millenia, been famed worldwide for their production of alcoholic drinks. So much so, that tourists come to see how bloody good they are at brewing and distilling. And in the gift shops, they sell their produce where, as is the custom, they are on display.
Oh dear, hadn't thought of that, had they?
"Clearly, alcohol sold at attractions to promote and increase understanding of the skill that goes into producing fine premium drinks such as malt whiskies doesn't fall into this category."
So very "clearly", in fact, that they failed to exempt such premises in the initial legislation. All those devolved hoons running around being back-slappingly righteous, yet not one of them thought of something that MacAskill now tells us was quite obvious.
"That is why, when these unintended consequences were drawn to our attention, I was more than happy to look at the situation."
Splutter! Unintended consequences, you say? Why is a parliament, which is paid a hefty wedge by the taxpayer, not able to fathom such a consequence before committing to a particular course of action? Why on earth did this need to be 'drawn to their attention'?
Daft beyond belief.
"I am now laying regulations in Parliament that mean these attractions can make sure their gift shops are able to continue to trade in a way which complements the rest of the experience."
Because, you see, those who visit these attractions instantly inherit a self-restraint which was lacking when they were in their local supermarket.
Of course, this is just a sop to the tourist industry at the moment, but when the measures MacAskill is defending have failed, and let's be clear about this, they will fail, something more draconian may be mooted. Perhaps even the hiding of the breweries and distilleries themselves in order to divorce the scottish public from the shameful heritage which encourages them to drink. Sounds silly, yes, but not beyond the wit of these bansturbating fanatics.
So that's the evil tobacco and alcohol hidden from view in Jockland to save the idiot nation (© Holyrood, not me) from itself. But there are still plenty of other dangers to clamp down on. Comrade Beeb faithfully reported this week that fizzy drinks can paralyze and that salt in food is killing tens of thousands. Best hide them too.
In fact, sod it. Let's just skip the salami-slicing and make those north of the border buy their groceries from a text-only catalogue, to be retrieved by spotty kids from a concealed warehouse obscured by steel walls.
"Just scootin doon to McArgos to get the bairns' supper, back in a wee while, ma pet".
They'll all be running marathons for fun and leaping buildings in a single bound by the end of the week, won't they?
If you live in Scotland, you have my sincere commiserations.