Regular readers here will not be surprised to find that such an assertion is exactly what we have come to expect of reporting on alcohol matters recently. Superlative crap.
This, according to statistical experts remember, is what really happened.
The source of the data is the General Lifestyle Survey, 2009. Table 2.2 is a time series for those drinking more than the recommended limits. I have extracted data for 1998 to 2009 (see Table).Incompetence from a public sector organisation? Surely not.
This shows a slow decline from 1998 to 2006, followed by an abrupt increase which was caused by a change in methodology. The percentage of women exceeding the limit surged from 12 to 20 per cent when this new method for converting volumes of alcohol to units was applied. Since then the slow decline has resumed.
There is no evidence here that actual drinking habits have changed. It is possible the old method underestimated drinking before 2006, and the new one is better. But this data is not evidence of a rising trend: the surprise is that the author of the ONS report did not realise this.
Nor is it true, as the Daily Mail asserts, that recent figures have pointed to a surge in binge drinking among females, particularly young girls. The percentage of 16-24 year-olds who drank more than three units on any one day has declined since 1998 from 42 per cent to 37 per cent, and the percentage who drank more than six units on at least one day has barely increased, from 23 to 25 per cent.In short, there is not one jot of truth in the entire article, merely a load of scaremongering garbage under the hackneyed Mail "Booze Britain" tag. Oh, and accompanied by the obligatory drunk girl shot which so outrages the middle Englander psyche, natch.
This is before taking account of the change in methodology, which itself added five percentage points to the score. Not much evidence here of a surge in binge drinking among young women.
It's rather tiresome to be continually pointing out the false nature of our fabled binge-drinking epidemic, when a combination of slack ONS analysis and inept journalism can convince huge sections of society that booze armageddon is just around the corner. Despite incontrovertible evidence showing quite clearly that alcohol use is consistently declining.
It was in the paper, Guv, so it must be true, innit.
Unfortunately, MPs are just as gullible as your average ex-pat Mail mouth-frother, and this particular story - and it is just that ... a fanciful fairy tale - will doubtless have them muttering that something must be done.
Oh well, I can but put these things out there in the forlorn hope that someone in power, somewhere within the ranks of our addled parliamentary funny farm, will someday wake up to hard facts and stop peddling ill-informed bullshit based on nonsense they read in the paper, or heard from the Westminster Village simpleton.
Or I could do something more productive like banging my head against the garage wall.