Tuesday 7 February 2012

Did Sarah Wollaston Lie To The House Today?

Resident Tory cuckoo, Sarah Wollaston - a one trick pony alcohol prohibitionist - was in Westminster today to push the cause of minimum alcohol pricing amongst other dictatorial junk.

Did she lie? Well, we won't know for sure until the transcript is available, but unless she is incredibly stupid and being manipulated by others who are very happy to do so, she did in her article at Politics Home this morning.

Wade through it to find your personal favourite Alcohol Concern-founded sleight of hand stat, but her financial reasoning is extremely easy to debunk. Incontrovertibly.
The fact is that when alcohol is too cheap, more people die or wreak havoc on those around them and the rest of society picks up the tab.

This was as true for gin pricing in Hogarth’s Britain as it is with pocket money alcohol today at around 17p per unit.
She is very much against this, natch, and wants to match or beat the Scottish, as she tweeted earlier today.

She then goes on to say that this is nothing to be worried about. Oh no, this will cost responsible drinkers the square root of peanuts, so it will.
[...] even if the minimum unit price was set at 50p, would only increase the bill for moderate drinkers by £12 per year.
OK, we have the figures as stated by Wollaston, let's now do the maths.

I can't find the product which sells at 17p per unit, but then Wollaston is pretty vague about it too. So let's go for the cheapest supermarket product at mysupermarket.co.uk, Tesco's Value range ant's piss lager, currently selling at 70p for four 440ml cans (at a mind-bending 2% ABV).

This works out at 3.52 units, at an individual price of 19.88p per unit. Sticking rigidly to the government's absurdly low weekly limits - surely the epitome of a 'moderate' drinker - would see an intake of 21 units.

Currently, that would cost a low income family (after all, who else would drink the stuff) £4.17. Under Wollaston's plan, it would be £10.50. Now, last time I looked there were 52 weeks in the year, which would mean an increase - just for one adult member of the family - of £329.16!

Hey! I'm using Sarah's chosen examples, remember. No cherry-picking here.

Not convinced? How about something more realistic, then? Tesco also do a 4% own brand at £5.94 for twelve 500ml cans. This is 24 units, only a tad over the strict individual limits, and would result in a yearly addition to a single man's domestic shopping bill of £6.06 per week, or £315.12 per year.

So, two adults, drinking within government guidelines, would be penalised to the tune of £500-£600 by Wollaston's personal crusade. Far in excess of any annual increase in energy bills advanced by even the most pessimistic of sources in recent months.

Of course, there is one way that Wollaston's figures could add up. That being if she wasn't comparing like with like at all. Even remotely.

The only explanation is that she is using an example of the stuff poor people drink to come up with the 'shocking' 17p per unit, while reverting to what people actually drink - if they have the money - for the nice, calm, £12 increase in annual cost. In which case, there isn't much of a problem to begin with.

Unless her definition of 'moderate' really is less than one unit per week, or half a pint of Carlsberg ... between a married couple!

A Tory MP lying to parliament - or at the very least being a sad sock puppet - and severely punishing lower paid 'hard-working families' should have lefties occupying Twitter for quite some time. But then, they quite like the idea of the control minimum alcohol pricing gives them if they get back into power, so they won't.

If you're a man/woman on modest means - even if adhering obediently to the state's arbitrary guidelines on alcohol - you're in for a financial punishment no matter the colour of the governing party's literature.


Steve said...

Home brewing and wine making is suddenly looking rather attractive. The baccy plants are already an inch high in the propagators.

barnacle bill said...

And where might all this extra money go?
Keep the piggies pensions in line with their expectations!

Dim Δημητρης Karagiannis said...

I said that one in the past and I keep repeating it now

Little by little they get to extend the pension age limit cause the old pension model doesnt seem to work

So they will need you to work more,but in order to do so,they need to ensure that you'll live longer.What do they do?they 'minimise' your health risk factors, like fags and booze and meat and sugar (sic)

And they present it as doing it for your own good!

Junican said...

I have said again and again in the recent past that our political system stinks. How did this woman get elected? The whole lot need to be cleared out and replaced by people who pay attention to what is important for a Government to do, which is to facilitate the 'well-being' (not the health) of ALL the people as best it can. It is not the Gov's job to dictate lifestyles - that is for individuals to decide.

What happened to the bonfire of the quangos?  

Michael J. McFadden said...

So are things set up over there that the other members can call her on the public carpet tomorrow and say "Hey, the math doesn't add up.  Explain it!"

Is she in Commons (where our Yank image is of a rowdy mob who's often just one step away from dragging a speaker out to the street for a tar 'n feather party) or in Lords (where they seem to spend about 90% of their energy find cutely polite sarcastic ways of inferring things about each others' inferences)?   

Michael, the "Hey, don't blame me!  That's just the image over here!" guy.

JonathanBagley said...

She's lying. 21 units at 50p minus 21 units at 33p (£3.49 Valdepenas from Lidl - very drinkable) is £3.78 per week, or £196.56 a year. Don't know where she gets her £12 from. Let's all email her and ask her.

James Pickett said...

I don't often read the DM, but it appears from this that HMG is being advised by Ronnie Wood...


Dick_Puddlecote said...

Oh my God, you're right! ;)

JonathanBagley said...

I've emailed her with my calculation. Working backward from from £12 per year, about 21 pence per week, suggests she is assuming the typical moderate drinker currently pays 49p for each unit of alcohol which equates to around £4.90 for a 13% abv bottle. What I think has happened, is that doctors and MPs cannot imagine normal people spending less than £4.99 on a bottle of wine. They think the £3.49 and £3.99 bottles are bought only by the likes of winos, bag ladies and illegal immigrants (who have no vote). Also, doctors know they are very clever people; so are confident that, if they can't do these calculations, then neither can anyone else.   

nisakiman said...

I'm not sure that Ronnie would welcome the comparison. And I believe he's a bit of a heroic drinker himself. :¬)