Tuesday 2 August 2011

Panorama Reveals Prohibitionist Shadows Of The Past

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since Panorama's heyday of game-changing investigative journalism, such as their sixty minute destruction of Robert Maxwell's business empire nine months before the tread wore out on his deck shoes.

Last night's appallingly poor edition was so flimsily thrown together that it was comprehensively filleted at Snowdon's gaff (a must read) within a couple hours of airing. As such there isn't much left to say about the whole sorry shambles, except to comment on a soundbite from the grotesque Ian Gilmore (18:50 in at this link for the next 12 days) which is remarkably familiar.

"We're not trying to have alcohol banned. And we do know that changing culture takes a long time. What we need to do is use the levers we've got. And those are price, marketing, availability."
Of course, every use of one of those levers is effectively a form of prohibition - or banning - for someone, somewhere. The very point of elevating price is to stop sections of the public being able to afford it; we've seen bans on marketing in tobacco control which is a stated goal of Gilmore's for alcohol; and if a product's availability is restricted, it's a ban by any other name. But Gilmore is adamant he isn't calling for a complete ban on alcohol. Yet.

Weasel words indeed, especially since he added the comment about changing culture which he knows is all that's needed before he can call for total prohibition. Our esteemed mascot sums up the likes of Gilmore very well.

The problem, however, as with all these matters, is that the report panders to the zealots in society who are never satisfied. I guarantee that if all the recommendations were introduced, Committee members would, within a few months at most, come back with further recommendations because the previous ones had not gone far enough. This lobby is impossible to satisfy.

It was interesting that Gilmore was subtitled as representing the Alcohol Health Alliance too - a collection of pressure groups inspired by the success of the Smokefree Action Coalition (these uncanny similarities seem to be getting more frequent, don't they?) - as their membership include some who very much would like to see alcohol banned.

One is the Institute of Alcohol Studies, funded by the Alliance Health Foundation. Their motto? "To spread the principles of total abstinence from alcoholic drinks and to promote the moral and physical welfare of the community", which is to be expected of an outfit which began life as the 'UK Alliance for the Suppression of the Traffic in all Intoxicating Liquors' and was known as the 'UK Temperance Alliance' up until 2003.

Not trying to have alcohol banned? Nope, but his corner is packed with many who would crack open the Champagne Appletise at the announcement of our own Volstead Act.

Still, maybe you think I'm being too harsh on the old fart and that he's really very trustworthy. Well, I'm sorry but I've seen his type before.

Clive Bates, director of anti-smoking group ASH, said: "This is a scaremongering story by a tobacco industry front group.

"No-one is seriously talking about a complete ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants."
On that basis, believe Gilmore at your peril boys and girls.

UPDATE: Spiked's Rob Lyons chips in with "Really, they ought to rename the programme Propaganda and have done". Please do go read Panorama’s addiction to pisspoor journalism.


Anonymous said...

My analogy of where the crypto/neo prohibitionists want to end up with tobacco and alcohol is prostitution.

Prostitution per se is not illegal, you can sell your body for money. However gaining clients is a major barrier. No agents, (pimps) soliciting either in the street or by card is too. You immediately commit an offence by having 2 prostitutes in the same place.

All but making it practically impossible to practice is where they want us to be.

However US prohibition, the world's "oldest" profession and 3,000 of smoking make it tougher job than they may imagine.

Dick Puddlecote said...

This was the approach of US alcohol prohibitionists. Possession of alcohol wasn't illegal, but manufacture and transport of it was. They somehow thought that this would make it compatible with the Bill of Rights and personal freedoms.

Nothing much has changed then.

Ivan D said...

The levers WE have?

The last time I looked those levers belonged to our elected representatives not a bunch of unaccountable, arrogant authoritarian medics (and one spin doctor).

The BBC still seems to believe that passing a medical degree makes a person omniscient and beyond criticism. The sad thing is that the propaganda piece broadcast last night will be believed by many despite its fundamental dishonesty.

George Speller said...


misfit said...

IvanD....The levers they have ARE the elected representatives,or,at least a good portion.

George Speller said...

oops! www.alcoholhealthalliance.org

Dick Puddlecote said...

George Speller: Yes, saw that today, someone is being gloriously pro-active. :)

Ivan & Anon: The levers he is talking about are ones he would deny to any of us ... as ably illustrated by Panorama last night. The spoilt (highly-paid) kid in the playground writ large.

Paul said...

This is what I don't get about a lot of people who think it's a good idea to restrict the ability of people to purchase legal, cheap, clean alcohol.

Take the extreme cases of those on the programme.

What do they think will happen to those people if their regular source of clean alcohol is denied them? Have they not thought of the fact that they're putting them in greater danger - by forcing them to take more risks with what they drink - than by just leaving them the hell alone?

Freely advertised legal, clean, cheap alcohol of all strengths and styles is the only realistic and sane way forward.

As with the anti-obesity lobby (as a 22st guy, I know I'm next) the only place they are leading us to is misery and more social deprivation and division. All under the guise, just as in the oul days, of "saving ourselves".

Dick Puddlecote said...

Paul: This is a very good point, and one I'd like to see addressed with e-cigs. They're rather sketchy quality-wise at the moment and would be vastly improved by more investment and professionalism, although improving rapidly. Government legislation may serve to hamper that.

The alcohol industry have already gone through all that and produce a consistently high quality product. As you say, restrictions on alcohol producers will only lead to home brew and illicit stills which have the potential to cause even more damage.

Sadly, it's never discouraged those who perpetuate a drug prohibition which sees all sorts of crap being added to substances which are ingested by users.

RB said...

If they make it prohibitively expensive or harder to get I'll just brew my own. Dont go to pubs anymore anyway since the smoking ban. So I'll get pissed at home with my own homebrew with my (adult) kids and family - fuck em.

Anonymous said...

Whats wrong with a full scale
crackdown on drinkers,they fully
deserve it. The miserable,cowardly,
backstabbing,chicken livered,
yellowstreaked ,bloated,bootlicking
apathetic toadies have lied down and let their smoking
mates ,relatives and neighbours to be treated like outcast lepers.
Come and join the colony,you
apathetic creeps.Get your trainers
back on Planet Earth ,freedom for all...OR...freedom for none.

One crying in the wilderness

ArtCo said...

Panorama is a piece of Pish.
I used to watch it years ago and thought it was an in depth analytic program ,and maybe it was then. I grew up after a while and realised it was on a par with playschool , newsnight lite and Hamas Radio. Its not what IT SAYS's but who is saying it.
Anyway 'up with smoking and drinking' lol

Twenty_Rothmans said...

"The BBC still seems to believe that passing a medical degree makes a person omniscient and beyond criticism"

"Thanks for the thalidomide prescription, Doctor!"

I think that people like the size 0 Gilmore should be considered traitors. Traitors to reason; traitors to freedom and traitors to their country.

Growing up, I saw people around me fall to heroin twenty before anyone had booze issues. So what are you going to do next, Gilmore, ban heroin? Oh.

"Speaking to the BBC this morning, he added: 'Everyone who has looked at this in a serious and sustained way concludes that the present policy of prohibition is not a success."[0]

He is not precisely a Professor of Making Up His Fucking Mind, is he?

So, chavscum snackie + NHS = free hit.

Middle-class, responsible drinker pays £££ ... for chavscum smackie. Righhht.

This twunt earns too much.

"What possible inconvenience could it be for a pint of this so-called beer to be £10? What's £10 these days? My dear boy, I think they sell beer in supermarkets these days, have to do away with that. Anyway, it's vulgar, and for the underclasses and parvenus.

Anyone under 150K is living off a Giro or working in some ghastly factory and obviously cannot be entrusted with alcohol.

It will go to his head."
[0] Should be sold at pharmacies

Paul said...

Twenty_Rothmans: I do believe the price of a pint of lager in many bars in Norway is around a tenner. Result? People don't drink in bars any more; they either get wasted on very alcoholic home-brew or buy their stuff from the local Vinmonopolet and get wasted before going out to the bars and having a pint or two of beer at weekends.

Any other way is too expensive.

Paul said...

Oh yeah, and about the extreme cases on this programme: people dependent on alcohol just 'giving up' cold turkey, like this collection of lunatics and idiots would want, will lead to people getting the DTs and even dying due to the onslaught of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Giving up alcohol when you're a seriously dependent drinker - I'm not talking about people who drink more than they should here but seriously dependent folk - is dangerous stuff.

Anonymous said...

The thing is, Paul, that the reality is that only a very, very, very few people actually are so seriously addicted to alcohol that they die young. We would not have an age at death expectation of 80ish if people regularly pegged out as a result of drink more than is 'average'. Remember that 'averages' are the most unreliable of measures.

Exaggeration, hyperbole, excitement, jealousy, fear, etc. All emotional - nothing really scientific.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that there’s a part of me, as a very-rare-drinking smoker, that feels similar to Anon 22:19. I personally would fight any further restrictions on alcohol simply out of principle – I may not drink very often but I do want to maintain the option of being able to do so if and when I please without censure or being totally ripped-off; but there is a part of me, I confess, which rather smugly thinks to myself: “Told you so!” every time I hear/see yet another article on “Booze Britain” or hear the all-too-familiar lines being trotted out by the anti-alcohol brigade or read about the latest “drink-related health risk.” Like Anon, I too feel very betrayed by non-smoking drinkers for their complete and utter lack of support for their smoking friends prior to the ban. OK, so there are signs that increasing numbers of them are now starting to recognise the reality which is the smoking ban and to come on-side, but there is a chance that it’s too little too late. With the ban in, there’s now a mountain to climb to get rid of it; before it was imposed it would have been oh-so-easy to shake politicians out of their thrall to the anti-smoking industry if we’d only had a significant number of non-smokers saying the same things as we ourselves were saying.

They didn’t do themselves any favours, either, all those non-smoking drinkers who simply didn’t bother themselves with the ban because “it won’t affect me – I don’t smoke.” Because having accepted (or simply acquiesced in the face of) all the principles put forward by the anti-smoking movement to justify the smoking ban (“harming others,” “for the sake of the children,” “to protect workers,” “to help smokers to quit.”) they have put themselves on the back foot in terms of arguing against the same principles being used against alcohol, because any such arguments can now easily be dismissed as sheer hypocrisy. Which, essentially, they are.

I know I’ve said it before, but the only way that non-smoking drinkers are going to be able to stem the rising tide which is the anti-alcohol movement is for them to swallow their pride, admit they were wrong about the smoking ban, state loudly and clearly that they no longer accept the principles upon which it was based, and thus give themselves a fighting chance of countering the exact same tactics being used against them without the powerful charge of hypocrisy preventing them from being listened to.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

We are looking at very, very serious shortcomings in our now obviously deranged and dysfunctional "public service" state broadcaster. Their ever descending downward spiral in journalistic standards paralleling an appetite for fabrication that defies parody.

The riding on the coat-tails of bonkers gimp control freaks like Gilmour and pandering to the latest "right on" Guardianista social engineering fads is just hammering more nails in their own coffins. Shouting at the TV and radio is fast becoming a national sport.

The propagandising is way out of control, and lost whatever tenuous connections it had with reality over 10 years back.

The problem is that there's no effective back channel to the luvvies and PC drones - none - bar the refusal to pay and refusal of access to Crapita as BBC agents onto your property.

The up themselves overpaid self regarding nitwits torch their way though what is it ? £ or so a year and they regard science as Arts & Entertainment? and the temerity to disagree as "denierism"? W-T-F is going on?

Can we have a show of hands bruvvers n sistas? OK! motion carried, STRIKE - don't pay - starve the beast. Wipe the smirk off their faces.

hmm.. that feels better.

Anonymous said...

The government of Saudi Arabia bans acohol on the basis of a pseudo-religous belief which has no real medical justification which they themselves disregard in private, but the they are a quasi-fascist gang of undemocratic bully boys who cajole and hector their populace whilst stealing the national wealth for themselves, whereas our government.... no wait.

Anonymous said...

The same debate is going on right now in France (I'm listening to a conversation on the radio as I type -- legalisation of cannibis is the main topic of the show).

They had someone like Gilmour on earlier saying that it would be good to legalise cannibis -- 'just put a health warning on the packet'. This man then went on to say about tobacco and alcohol that 'Everyone knows how dangerous tobacco is. So, we have raised the tax and have seen a 10% drop in consumption.' As for alcohol, he said, 'We have to get the message across that alcohol is just as dangerous as tobacco, to restrict where and how it can be consumed.

He, too, thought that there was an argument for legalising heroin and cocaine, as well as cannibis. (No discussion of skunk -- I've talked about the difference on my blog.) After all, as the economist on the panel discussion with him said, 'Cannibis tax could bring us as much as 1 bn euros per year! We've lost the war on drugs, more and more kids are smoking it, so we might as well legalise it.'

Not sure what planet these people are living on, but I wouldn't be surprised to see this discussion take place in the UK in the autumn.

There is a clear parallel of alcohol, tobacco and drug discussions on both sides of the Channel, which I find interesting.

Oh, yes, 2/3rds of the French public would like to see a ban on smoking at the beach. This was the topic the other day. 'There are so many fag ends on the beach, you could build a chateau out of them.' And, 'You're not really in the open air on the beach. Consider it an enclosed space.' Huh? I guess they've been smoking some waccy baccy ...

In any event, suppose they legalise dope -- the French government would only raise the tax every year, which brings us back to where we are today with dealers and 'man in the van'.

Anonymous said...

Apologies -- I see I have misspelled cannabis several times.

Anonymous said...

Well, we're all in everything together so I demand immediate withdrawal of HOC subsdised booze - I wish.

I hadn't realised how far into the sewer Panorama had slipped until I watched a hatchet job on the sector in which I work - the standard would have disgraced the dimmest rookie reporter on a local rag.


James Higham said...

The banning of tobacco and alcohol is something to be deeply dubious about, given the loss of revenue to the taxman which would have to be made up somewhere else and that leads to an interesting line of enquiry.

Anonymous said...

That lost tax revenue would probably be made up by charging everyone, not just drinkers and smokers, but everyone a carbon tax based on the global warming scheme. Once they get carbon taxes up and running, they may not need alcohol and tobacco taxes anymore, so they can do away with them.

As to analogies of prostitution with that of smoking and drinking, maybe we need two new words thought up in the dictionary, that of "smokitution", for those who would smoke, and "drinkatution", for those who would drink.

Anonymous said...

A ban on alcohol? That should please the Muslim voters.