Wednesday 30 October 2013

Minimum Alcohol Pricing Flops

I think I'm starting to feel a bit sorry for the automatons blindly advocating in favour of minimum alcohol pricing. Because you see, as campaigns go, it has been a bit of a comic failure.

Quite apart from the fact that it is illegal under EU precedent, the whole idea has been hampered from the start as if deliberately so by a higher being.

The Sheffield University report was, in itself, already policy-led rubbish, but when a BBC Panorama episode had to be pulled from iPlayer last year, the incompetence of the temperance lobby's lead researchers was laid brutally open to ridicule.
The School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield has confirmed to Panorama that unfortunately, due to human error, figures they produced specifically for the programme Old, Drunk and Disorderly?  broadcast on 10th September 2012 were incorrect.  The figures are in fact 4-5 times lower than those originally given to Panorama. The University emphasised the human error was wholly on their part and has apologised unreservedly to the BBC.
Then came the news that the level of reduction in consumption predicted by Sheffield is being exceeded by the drinks industry's responsibility deal without any need for regulation.

Support from public health's usual stalwarts then dried up as Left Foot Forward took the unusual step of agreeing with Boris Johnson that evidence for minimum pricing is a nonsense, quickly followed by the lefty New Statesman agreeing that it is a fact that it would have "a disproportionate effect on the poorest".

As if that wasn't enough, Sheffield were then forced to revise their predictions downward in July. Their 2009 report proudly declared a 45p unit price to deliver a 4.3% reduction in consumption, which became a 1.6% reduction once they'd found someone more competent to have their turn with the calculator. This was a bit embarrassing, as you can imagine, hence why the 2009 offering was quietly spirited off of the internet.

By this time, you could probably excuse Sheffield Uni's finest junk scientists for feeling glum, as this leaked photo from their office at the time shows.

Their bad luck just keeps a-coming though. This, from the BBC today.
The world is facing a wine shortage, with global consumer demand already significantly outstripping supply, a report has warned. 
The research by America's Morgan Stanley financial services giant says demand for wine "exceeded supply by 300m cases in 2012". 
The authors say they "expect the current production shortfall to culminate in a significant increase in export demand, and higher prices for exports globally".
Of course there will be higher prices, it's what happens when supply is short and demand is high.

And when the price of even the cheapest bottle of wine moves past the most politically palatable of Sheffield's minimum pricing suggestions - as looks very likely - it will be just one more example of the market taking care of things, and another valid reason to ignore the wowsers entirely.

I dunno, maybe God just hates miserable nannies as much as we do.

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