Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has written to supermarket giants over a failure to remove alcohol promotions from the entrances to their stores.And they'd be best advised to categorically refuse to do so.
Lansley wrote letters to Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Co-Op and Waitrose reiterating a request that the supermarkets pledge to remove alcohol promotions from the front of retail outlets where they are in plain view of customers.
A DoH spokesperson said: “Under the responsibility deal of March Asda was committed to ending promotions there by the end of April but other supermarkets are yet to follow suit.”
As examples on these pages continually illustrate, it doesn't matter how compliant or co-operative any business is towards health nutters, they will quite simply never be appeased. All the supermarkets quoted should make each and every tiny concession as damned difficult as possible for any politician to implement. Bite, obfuscate, kick, delay, procrastinate, and scream to the high heavens if need be. Just don't backslide without putting up one hell of a fight.
Because once you accept any demand from the health lobby, they have you right where they want you. No, seriously. Let's consult the tobacco control template for precedents, shall we?
1960s: Tobacco companies agree to withdraw TV cigarette advertising
1980s: Tobacco ads banned in print and hoardings
1991: Cigar and loose tobacco adverts banned on TV
1999: Cigar ads banned in cinemas
2003: All advertising and sponsorship banned
2010: Legislation passed to hide all displays
2011: Plain packaging mooted, an end to all brand awareness
Drinks companies and their retailers can be as accommodating as they like, but it won't stop the march of the miserablists. They'll simply move on to 'the next logical step'.
Worse, in fact, because asking for booze to be moved away from shop entrances may sound reasonable on the face of it, but you just know it won't stop there. Indeed, the very act of appeasement brings with it further ammunition for opponents of the drinks industry, as eruditely explained by Howard Stoate in 2009.
"In choosing voluntarily to remove its logo from child-size replica Rangers and Celtic shirts two years ago, Carling more or less admitted that the association between the clubs and the brand had a direct and positive influence upon young people's attitudes towards the Carling brand."Yep, the act of doing as requested by MPs and swivel-eyed tax leeches only adds fuel to the fire. It proves, so it does, that the industry is not only evil - as the temperance advocates have already decided - but that it is knowingly evil. Best just stick to one's guns, then, and say no. Repeatedly.
There really is no way of winning with these bastards. So it makes sense to ensure that the next step is as difficult as possible to embark upon, by giving the old Harvey Smith and telling them to go for legislation if they dare.
It'll need to be done often, of course, and also should be accompanied by astute courting of consumers to pro-actively stave off the coming storm. Because the process of demonising any organisation which sells alcohol of any description is gathering pace, with tobacco control helpfully directing from behind the scenes.
The Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA), which speaks on behalf of major supermarket chains on alcohol issues, accused organisers of a "calculated and deliberate attempt to mix the issue of alcohol misuse with the known and proven health harms caused by smoking".The 'summit' was a supreme success, apparently, with ASH Scotland passing on tried-and-tested techniques to those who seek to 'denormalise' alcohol along the same lines as tobacco. There is another collaborative meeting of tedious anti-smoking and anti-alcohol joy-crushers planned for Wales in October, too.
WSTA spokesman Gavin Partington said: "The decision to refuse access to those in the industry who wish to discuss issues regarding alcohol misuse openly and honestly only adds to the impression that Alcohol Focus Scotland have their own agenda and wish to stifle debate".
If you click on those links above, you'll notice the presence of Gerard Hastings - an adviser to Kevin Barron's motley collection of hideous parliamentary health freaks - at both. And he was also quoted by Howard Stoate in his parliamentary speech referenced above. All very incestuous, but targeted laser-like at those who manufacture, retail, or enjoy drinks containing alcohol.
They're coming for you, drinks companies ... and in a very big way. Resist at every turn, or watch the floundering tobacco industry very carefully for it will be your future. One of impotence, condemnation, and calls for your ostracism from polite society - or worse - from a brainwashed public.
And yes, you're correct, you can detect a soupçon of self-satisfying 'I told you so' in my writing.