Sunday 25 March 2012

Minimum Pricing And The Stable Door

While every sane person in the country queued up to pour ridicule on the quite execrable Cameron-led government over minimum alcohol pricing, there were still many dribbling others who didn't quite get how dangerous the idea is.

So let's address some of the idiocy, shall we?

Firstly, if anyone mentions alcopops - as the dozy IAS bore on Five Live's phone-in did Friday - they are either woefully ignorant, or have an agenda which will certainly not be met by minimum pricing.

At time of writing, the very best deal at Sainsbury's for Smirnoff Ice was a two for £5.50 deal on 700ml bottles of the stuff. At 5% strength, this means they are selling it at just under 79p per unit. It would take a doubling of the proposed entry point for alcopops to be remotely threatened.

You see, talking of agendas, Cameron has swung open the stable door and invited every anti-alcohol nutter (and others, more later) to bolt and advance their glib and ill-conceived ideas.

Within minutes of Theresa May being stuck on the end of a broom handle to pump out this shit, Alcohol Concern were practising in front of a mirror how to introduce the hideous social calamity of married couples sharing a bottle of wine of an evening to a wider audience; police woodentops were delighted at the opportunity to call for advertising bans; and commenters near and far to assert that charging for NHS services was a damn good plan. The fact that many of the latter were up in arms earlier in the week about the temerity of the government to even consider the very same thing in the Health Bill was quite hilarious.

I remember watching a programme once where Cameron was portrayed as not too interested in politics during his college years. I think it must have been entirely accurate since he seems to have the political nous of a fruit fly. With one day of madness, he has opened a can of worms which will crawl all over him for the rest of his tenure, while simultaneously causing the UKIP recruitment team to hire another couple of members of staff to cope with their phones ringing off the hook.

Conservative Home were right behind him, though ... not. While Labour politicians couldn't believe their luck in managing to still get their daft control policies through even in opposition.

Just to top the quite astounding mistake off, it was almost certainly announced on Friday to stop the press destroying them for the budget. Surely, someone - anyone - might have advised Cameron that if you want to buy the public off you should choose to do it with something popular.

It's not like he wasn't aware that it would be received very badly either, as his own Number 10 PR stated quite clearly.
I know this won’t be universally popular. But the responsibility of being in government isn’t always about doing the popular thing. It’s about doing the right thing.
And there is the next problem, because this is the first time that a politician has explicitly come out and admitted what we have known for quite a while. That public consultations are anything but.

They have always been a bit of a sham, a sly way of pretending that Westminster are listening to us. But Cameron is saying that it matters not what any of us think - if responses turn out to be 100% against the idea, he's doing it anyway.

The only thing cast-iron about this guy is his steely incompetence. Well, maybe with a bit of arrogant contempt for the public thrown in.

Lastly - and probably most importantly for many - never think that this is just about punishing the less well off. I know many have stated that it is a move which will uniquely disadvantage the poor and leave others unaffected, which is valid insofar as the stated terms of the proposed legislation, but real life will certainly not work like that.

If bog standard spirits, for example, are forced to charge close to premium brands, does anyone really believe that the premiums won't be protected? If Asda own brand white rum rises in price, so commensurately will Bacardi; if Tesco's own brand wines are made more expensive, the premium gap will be preserved by more prestigious labels increasing in price accordingly.

It would be quite incredible if the Department of Health Hectoring weren't fully aware of that.

No matter your income level, you will be paying more for your chosen tipple thanks to Cameron's doe-eyed simple-mindedness. And if anyone truly believes that 'moderate' drinkers will only pay £5 to £6 extra per year, I'd advise them to stick to the child area of the library next time. They'll be in the company of equally credulous minds that way.


Jay said...

"Lastly - and probably most importantly for many - never think that this is just about punishing the less well off."

I don't.  It's not even about punishing anyone.

It's about control.  Control the population, brainwash them, take away their weapons, their freedoms, one by one, and make them subservient and unquestioning to government's whims, so that when it all goes tits up (and it will, someday), there are far fewer people willing or capable of challenging the state.

It's a "look over here, but don't look at what is really happening" distraction.  Cameron knows it's all FUBAR, and so does everyone in government.  If they can distract us from the simple fact that we're racing towards a world of shit, then they win.  Meanwhile, those who can afford to are buttressing up their mansions and castles, too keep out the riff-raff when the people finally wise up to what is happening to them.

I can't predict the future. It could be a few years from now or a few decades from now or even longer, but eventually this house of cards we've constructed will fall.  And the people who caused it will be safely far away from the those who would seek retribution.

The sooner Greece falls, the better...  Why?  Because we need things to get a a lot worse before we can make it better.  The reason is because no one will take action until thing get bad enough. While I don't know when it will happen, I do think Greece will fail, then Portugal, and Italy, and Spain... then France, and of course the UK.  America right behind them...

Or maybe not.  It's all happy, fluffy kittens and bunnies... Right?  Right?  Hello?

lleweton said...

I heard, on the radio, someone describe himself as a Libertarian - and then go on to support minimum pricing for alcoholic drinks and declare that the smoking ban had worked. At which point I switched off. Are the puritans trying to sail with their poisonous cargo under our colours?

Curmudgeon said...

Yes, "minimum price alcohol" will carry a sort of stigma like "minimum wage jobs". Every producer of every remotely reputable brand of drink will do their utmost to get their product priced above the minimum.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

That's the second time I've heard about this 'libertarian'. Did anyone catch his name? 

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Quite. It's basic economics and is easily observed with the plain packaging debate. Tobacco companies can see their premium brands having to compete solely on price because of it, hence the legal cases. Tobacco controllers are spinning this as proof that 'big tobacco' is scared of losing consumers. 

Of course they won't. 

There is a premium price on premium brands. You remove the differential and the premium brands will have to increase in price to protect the 'premium'. That's why it's called such.  

The wakening said...

Noted earlier about "libertarians"
They cry liberty ,for whom,we ask, not for the ordinary,not for the normal,
not for the average,not for the producers of wealth,they are pretentious
banner wavers for the liberal elite,the freaks,the perverts,the oddballs,
their kind of freedom,limited to a noisy few.
True liberty is won with blood and guts,valour and fortitude,sweat and tears
not qualities found in the chattering pharisees
The Commons is the cesspool in which only the snouts of the fringers
sniff eagerly.A one Party State occasionally swopping seats to keep the
eloctorate in a coma,a Liberal concensus Pied Piper herding a Nation
into despotism.

Anyone listening 

George Speller said...

 Jason Cowley

Jay said...

The only people who ought to be scared are the retailers.  Tobacco companies will get on fine, but retailers will find that fewer customers are buying tobacco products in the shops.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Ta, George. So he writes for the Observer and New Statesman and calls himself a 'libertarian'. Good grief.

lleweton said...

'Chattering pharisees': I like that.

Lysistrata Eleftheria said...

Jay said: “The sooner Greece falls, the better... 
Why?  Because we need things to get a lot worse before we can make it
better.  The reason is because no one will take action until things get
bad enough.”


Eh? Well, living in Greece as I do, thanks very much Jay.
That’s really fucking helpful.

Have you actually read anything about global banking in the last decade?


You are adopting the faux-Marxist position of the French
situationists in the 1960s, and supporting the deliberate worsening of ordinary
people’s lives, and deliberate provocation of the authorities so they will be
provoked into striking back with disproportionate force, so they will be condemned,
and so there will a popular uprising, and then the “we” that you refer to can
take power, right?


First, dream on sweet baby Jay.


Second,  I‘m not
sure I like this ‘we’ on whose behalf you claim to speak.

It may be your ‘we’ but it’s not my ‘we’.

The Far Blue Horizon said...

We wonder who had dinner at No 10 with Dave
With Dave's continued support for the nonsensical Leninist Smoking ban.
no surprise if the guests included Pharmaceuticals CEOs
No real need fpr string pullers to dine in Downing Street ,their hirelings are well spread in the private rooms of Westminster
Time for true blues to jetison this twin tongued blustering purple Parrot,
no depth,no strength,no integrity ,just a cable from a Liberal joystick.

Ex Con (48 years)

Jay said...

Well, no, I don't want any of it to happen. I never wanted any of it to happen. That's the point. It's (probably) going to happen anyway, and the sooner it happens, the sooner we can rectify the situation. Right now, we're all just hanging on our some sort of fiscal life support.  It's bollocks. 

No, I do subscribe to any global banking magazines or newspapers -- despite this, I am well aware of the banking system. I am, however, a firm believer in the gold standard.

No, I do not want people's lives to worsen. I want them to get better. A lot better.  I want people to have more liberties, more freedom.  But until things get bad enough, no will fight for their rights. I don't make the rules, it's just how it is.

By the way, I love Greece. I really don't want to see any strife there.  I would advocate that any one who can afford to should holiday there to help out the locals.  But it's not the locals who are causing the problems, it's just the locals who are suffering from other people's problems.

JonathanBagley said...

Another point about minimum pricing: it will harm pubs, not help them. People decide what level of drunkenness they wish to achieve. If drinking at home becomes more expensive, but still less than pub drinking, they will need to allocate more of their drink money to home drinking and less to pub drinking.

Curmudgeon said...

Quite so, it will reduce people's disposable income and give them less to spend in pubs. Few people drink exclusively in either on- or off-trade; most split their consumption between the two.

c777 said...

Always strange the ways of politics.
Do any of the MP's (yes I know a few do),realise how unpopular all this stuff really is.
The danger they cannot see is low turnout at elections.
A mandate to govern is just that.

Curmudgeon said...

Government e-petition against minimum pricing has been created today:

Also an excellent article by Patrick Hayes on Sp!ked:

Lyn Ladds said...

Thanks for e-petition link, Curmudgeon.  Just signed it.