In Praise of Alcohol 175


Here is a record of my last few days alcohol consumption:

Wednesday 2 September Nil
Tuesday 1 September 1 Glass merlot
Monday 31 August 1 Champagne Cocktail
5 Glasses Puilly Fuisse
2 Glasses Remy Martin XO
Sunday 30 August Nil
Saturday 29 August 3 Glasses Pinot Grigio
Friday 28 August Nil
Thursday 27 August Nil

That is a pretty average week for me. Alcohol is among my pleasures. Like a great many people, I find it enhances good times and gives some solace in bad. I am therefore rather pleased that the European Court Advocate General has made observations thought to be generally unhelpful to the nanny state proposals of the Scottish government on minimum alcohol pricing. These proposals would not affect me, given what I drink. The proposal is a classical resurfacing of the middle class desire to regulate the behaviour of the working class. Life is tough enough. People should be allowed their small pleasures.

I have a great contempt for the anti-alcohol lobby, and particularly for the cultist doctrine that the only way to combat alcoholism is total abstinence. If alcohol were truly a physical addiction, why am I not addicted? I have had days where I drink 40 units over 24 hours. And I have periods particularly when writing where I don’t drink a thing for three or four weeks at a time. I can switch from one phase to the other, or any intermediate state, without ever the slightest shadow of a physical craving. My introspection tells me that the standard explanation of alcohol being physically addictive is impossible to reconcile with my personal experience. It is an imposed reality. Alcohol is very good for me. And it is very good for you too, whatever the do-gooders may say.

Slainte Mahth.

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175 thoughts on “In Praise of Alcohol

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  • John Spencer-Davis

    Craig Murray
    03/09/2015 12:55pm

    Who cares how much or how little you drink, or if you think alcohol is good for you? You have neither the right nor the duty to tell other people that what is good for you is good for them, too.

    Shut up.


  • craig Post author


    I am all in favour of a laissez faire attitude in these matters. That is my point. Nobody is forced to drink. And nobody should be deliberately priced out of it. If it is a matter of public policy and legislation, for example on minimum pricing, it is a valid area for comment.

    Why are you suddenly so upset?

  • John Spencer-Davis

    Because you said that alcohol is good for other people.

    That’s not for you to say. It’s none of your business.

    Shut up.


  • Republicofscotland

    John are you feeling okay, you seem a bit out of character?

    Craig I thought you made a fair point.

  • craig Post author

    Plainly it is bad for some people – poor Charlie Kennedy, for example. But my point is that any addiction is not a physical property of the alcohol, but related to the psychology of the individual. Similarly behavioural problems which are alcohol associated generally have their roots in the social or psychological conditions of the individual not the alcohol itself.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    I object to you recommending something to other people that could lead to extremely serious harm. I would object just as strongly to someone telling a diabetic that insulin was bad for them.

    Someone has to do it, Craig. You can be as sanctimonious – and I choose that word very carefully – as you like about your own experience with alcohol. You can be as hostile as you like to the total abstention lobby. No objection to that whatsoever. You do bang on about it a bit, it’s clearly a private hobby horse of yours, but it’s none of my business or anyone else’s.

    You are not the human race. The fact that you can cope with alcohol does not mean that everyone can. Your individual reaction to alcohol is not the same as everyone else’s. Everyone’s is different. Your experience is not the world’s. So do not have the presumption to tell other people that alcohol is good for them. You might well not be right. You might have people on here who have had years of problems with alcohol. You’re not helping them by saying something like that. There may be young people on here who will listen to you. Don’t be so irresponsible.

    You’re a free person – I’ll shut up myself now. But I’ve watched you going on about this subject for months – years, maybe. You’re clearly not going to stop. Fine. Just don’t recommend it to other people. You might be killing them, for all you know.


  • Bob Smith

    Tricky issue not helped by central government, with the connivance of Doctors organisation, pushing the idea that there are a minimum number of units. When the recommendations were made years ago, there was no evidence whatsoever to support the recommendation. The Department of Health committee decided to make up numbers that the public could live with. Those numbers are now quoted as if they are based on clinical evidence. Enjoying a half bottle of wine with a meal and maybe a tot or two after would do no harm at all to most people but would far exceed the daily recommended allowance. Indeed, consumed with a meal over a couple of hours many would be under the English drink drive limit. So, the advice would be more accurate if it said enjoy everything in moderation and learn your own limits. I hardly drink at all these days but have a house full of wine, beer and whisky for those that do. Lucky sods that they are.

  • glenn

    JSD: I don’t think CM can be accused of dispensing medical advice without a licence. He’s not a known expert of physiology, and is clearly giving his personal opinion. You might not agree with said opinion, fine – argue it, discuss it, or ignore it.

    Christ’s sake – suggesting people exercise is good advice, generally speaking, but there are a few people it would kill. Has every statement got to be couched in lawyer-friendly terms, replete with disclaimers and exemptions, just to be on the safe side, in case some fragile individual with learning difficulties might run out and be irresponsible, based on some interpretation of perceived advice?

    “There may be young people on here…” give me a break.

    A few drinks now and then is certainly good for most people. So is cannabis for that matter – ever tried it yourself?

  • mog

    ‘Alcohol is very good for me. And it is very good for you too, whatever the do-gooders may say.’

    I don’t regard myself as a do-gooder, and generally agree with the theme of the rest of this post, but this last statement contradicts what you say elsewhere.

    A close friend, a drinker, died, but not before being largely responsible for the death of an infant. This tragedy echoed through many lives, and still does.
    Alcohol is all those things that you celebrate it for being, but it can be a destroyer also, don’t fudge this fact.

  • jkick

    If you got rid of politicians and the concept of value, you be able have a copper distillery in you back garden, producing your own fruit liquors, free to drink to your hearts content.

  • MJ

    “If alcohol were truly a physical addiction, why am I not addicted?”

    You’ve explained why: because you have regular periods of abstinence. It’s people who drink every day who become addicted.

  • Jemand

    Whaz th fucjkken going on this blulshit &@1 dringks “Nil’ friday pinots martian fruity lexia fkkuen crap buch of wangkers

  • Robert Crawford

    A man who does not drink. There is no betterness for him as the day goes on.

    My father in-law said that to me. He was a drunk, when it was available, and free.

    He passed out at our wedding (the drink was free, provided by my father), another guest shouted, “the skipper is over-board”. He was a boat captain.

    Drink plenty water! Have you seen what it does to tin cans?

    One is too many, and a hundred is not enough!

    It gets you in the end!!! Acidic, you see. Or maybe you don’t.

    Freedom of choice is wonderful, is it not.

    Subliminal brainwashing. The image portrayed in the Movies. The same with fags. Play it again Sham.
    We all want an image.

  • mog


    I was a regular user of a large variety of drugs over about a fifteen year period. One thing that I concluded was that alcohol is one of the most powerful intoxicants.
    It is hard to compare the widespread general effects of illicit drugs used by a minority of people to those of ubiquitous legal ones, however, I think that society would be a lot more civilised (and that there would be far fewer alcohol related problems) if cannabis was legal.
    The best drugs are made by our own body.

  • fred

    It’s not so much if drink is good for you or not it’s a matter of if the government has any right to be interfering, especially as in my experience legislation frequently has the opposite affect to the one intended. Nobody addicted to alcohol would drink any less as a result of minimum pricing.

  • Clydebuilt

    Being inebriated is a valuable condition to find ones self in. Rember a documentary where some Oxford Don spent months in the jungles of South America getting intoxicated ……for the purposes of scientific experimentation ……make mines a pint, ,,,,, gotta go

  • Frazer

    John..Craig has been trying to kill me with large amounts of alcohol for years. I am still here ! Ha.

  • ------------·´`·.¸¸.¸¸.··.¸¸Node

    I like alcohol but I treat it no differently to any other drug. A lot of the problems associated with alcohol come about because most people do not understand that alcohol is a drug. In fact, of all the social drugs I have tried, alcohol has the strongest physical effect, and in some ways the strongest mental effects to (it impairs cognition rather than enhances it like some hallucinogens).

    It progressively degrades your ability to walk, talk, control your emotions and sphincter muscles, and remain conscious. The worst bodily discomfort I’ve ever experienced is from hangovers, illness and injury notwithstanding.

    The media’s use of the phrase “drugs and alcohol” rather than just “drugs” is no accident. The alcohol lobby went to a lot of trouble to have the competition declared illegal, and they need to maintain a false distinction to keep it that way. It says a lot about our society that alcohol and tobacco are legal whereas most of the less harmful alternatives aren’t.

  • Mo Fouz

    Dear Craig –

    Addiction and those things that addiction can latch onto (fast food, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, etc.) are genuine public policy issues. Per the Guardian, “The Scottish government could now argue in court that it has no other powers because it is unable to control alcohol taxation since that is controlled by the UK government, leading to further legal battles in the Scottish courts and a fresh constitutional row over Holyrood’s tax powers.” I think that’s a fair argument – one that you’ve been making for years. So while you push for Scottish independence etc., in the meantime, Nicola Sturgeon is tasked with keeping her people healthy, vibrant and above all else, ALIVE. I’d imagine you’d be more supportive. Just because people are poor does not mean that those whose who are middle income or rich should be supportive of their afflictions and ignore it because, they are poor! That makes no sense.

  • Robert Crawford

    People like the “feeling” they get from drink, it makes them happy, up to a point. Then—– bang, they become aggressive, abusive, bold, uninhibited, their resistance and their judgment goes down the pan, along with their last meal.

    The politicians know it is addictive, as is nicotine. Therefore, they tax it to the hilt, knowing the users will still buy it regardless of cost.

    If anyone took the time to count up how much tax they were paying per day on drink and fags, they would revolt if that amount of tax was deducted from their income.

    “It is my only pleasure”, they say.

    Look how cheap booze and fags are in Europe. And yet, they can and do look after their people better.

    We all like something to pleasure our selfs with. What is your pleasure? I have often been asked this, meaning, “what would you like to drink?”. I have often felt like telling them, ” you don’t have what I would like”.


    Pricing alcohol out of the reach of the poor seems a particularly wicked way to combat alcoholism. Education is the way to go. Proper, unbiased information on the effects of excess and help for those abusing alcohol to self medicate psychological issues – which does happen.

    I drink little but enjoy it when I do indulge. I appreciate living in a country which does not excessively tax alcohol that local beer is a mere 19 pence a 500ml bottle from the small store across the street. My favoured German brew is still under £2 a bottle.

    I don’t smoke and hate smoking but would not agree to high or indeed any tax on cigarettes.

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