Wednesday 12 October 2011

Wollaston And The UK Nine Year Recession

By way of update to yesterday's piece on non-conservative Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston, I mentioned that she has been preaching to the bansturbatorily converted over at the Guardian.

It's a work of art. She manages to squeeze just about every currently circulated anti-alcohol soundbite from the full range of professionally vested interests. Of course, her moral panicking should all fall down if she is forced to admit that rates of alcohol consumption are decreasing. Which they are.

However, just to show how incredibly bankrupt her kind are when it comes to evidence bases driving policy, she glosses over the one fact that is most salient.

The recent fall in alcohol consumption mirrors the relative change in alcohol affordability during the recession.
That's it! Falls in consumption are entirely to do with the recession. Nothing else.

You know, that recession which has been going on for nine years now.

ONS General Lifestyle Survey 2008:

Following an increase between 1998 and 2000, there has been a decline since 2002 in the proportion of men drinking more than 21 units a week, on average, and in the proportion of women drinking more than 14 units.
ONS General Lifestyle Survey 2009:

This trend seems to be continuing under the new methodology; between 2006 and 2009 the proportion of men drinking more than 21 units a week fell from 31 per cent to 26 per cent and the proportion of women drinking more than 14 units a week fell from 20 per cent to 18 per cent.
The latter document even provides a handy graph for Dr Wollaston to look at.

OK, she might have missed that study, but for someone who is so energised about alcohol issues, she couldn't have failed to have seen the BBC's analysis of the situation. Complete with graphic that illustrates exactly the same trend.

Now, I know she's a doctor, and therefore not too adept at economics, but she is an MP. And surely an MP should be aware that the recession didn't begin in 2002? And surely an MP who has set her stall out to commit a disproportionate amount of her time talking about alcohol consumption, should be well aware that her 'problem' is abating rather than becoming urgent.

That's not all either. Did you note carefully Wollaston's use of the word 'affordability'? You should do, because this has been a central plank of anti-alcohol's drive to massively ramp up prices of beer, wines and spirits. Y'see, despite the fact that alcohol is now more expensive in real terms than it was 30 years ago ...

Between 1980 and 2008, the price of alcohol increased by 283.3%. After considering inflation (at 21.3%), alcohol prices increased by 19.3% over the period.
... those who are paid to rail against it continually harp on about how it is actually - when you twist the figures enough - cheaper.

Alcohol Concern provide just one example of the very many I could have chosen.

The real price of alcohol has declined steadily over the past fifty years relative to income; alcohol was 69% more affordable in 2007 than in 1980.
It just doesn't stack up, does it?

Affordability due to recession - according to Wollaston - is the reason for declining alcohol consumption, despite a whopping majority of the period of decline being recession-free.

Meanwhile, government-funded fake charity bosses - and others - cite affordability as justification for urgent action on alcohol, despite the fact that consumption has been constently declining all the while they were banging on about affordability being a driver.

Look guys and girls of the puritan persuasion, you're starting to sound like the criminal duo being interviewed by police and coming up with differing accounts of the crime.

Affordability, it would seem, increases urgency of a problem even when prevalence is waning; while simultaneously being an excuse when the pre-conceived goal is being compromised by annoying things like facts.

If alcohol is becoming more affordable, it's clear that - in the past decade most definitely - it has a negative correlation with consumption.

And if the recession is the only factor - as Wollaston claims - in affordability being compromised, why did the decline start six years before a recession kicked in?

Oh hold on, I've just been unnecessarily frying my brain trying to work out the contorted logic. I forgot that they're just obsessives who make up any old shit as they go along to fit with their prejudices.


Christopher Snowdon said...

"The real price of alcohol has declined steadily over the past fifty years relative to income; alcohol was 69% more affordable in 2007 than in 1980."

Alcohol Concern either don't understand basic economic terms or are lying. The 'real' price of anything is the price adjusted for inflation, and the real price has risen significantly. Perhaps they mean the 'cost relative to income' or 'as a proportion of household expenditure' suchlike. Either way, they don't know what they're talking about.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

And there's me been pushing Open Primaries as I have argued they would provide a better class of candidate........

It would seem the electorate have problems when a member of the medical profession becomes a Tory politician?

Dick Puddlecote said...

WfW: No, I reckon the electorate have problems identifying a proper Tory once they are blinded by a candidate being a medic. ;)

westcoast2 said...

Why hasn't she called for more alcoholic councellors?

david said...

Not forgetting the higher price of alcohol sold in pubs, which were far more popular in 1980. Anyone know comparative pub user figures?

Angry Exile said...

It's getting hard to tell. Either it's déjà vu, a glitch in the matrix, or the bastards really are no better than the last lot. And she's one brought in by one of Carswell's and Hannan's vaunted open primaries. I've said it before and I'll say it again: proper representation and accountability isn't going to happen until there's a recall procedure and a means of sacking the fuckers without having to wait for an election.

Anonymous said...

I think, by affordable, they mean relative to income. By that measure, just about everything has become more affordable.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Well exactly, Anon. So the only way their demands can be appeased is by either slashing earnings or by increasing the cost of a bottle of gin to around £60.

Since that is never going to happen, they can whinge for next century or so, taking a hefty salary as they do so.

Sam Duncan said...

“Since that is never going to happen”

Neither was a complete ban on indoor smoking, remember?

(You have taught me well, sensai. ;) )