Minimum Alcohol Pricing: The Middle Class Sneer at the Unworthy Under-Privileged (Again). 212

Alcohol Focus Scotland state “Minimum pricing will mainly affect the low cost, high strength drinks favoured by harmful drinkers and younger drinkers.” By which they mean poorer drinkers.

My Chateauneuf du Pape and Lagavulin will be unaffected. The middle classes of Scotland can quaff their claret and Burgundy to their hearts’ content. Not only will the price be unchanged, there is a social message here. Six stiff G and T’s at the golf club is fine. The price won’t go up. The poor guy with his four tins of super strength lager in front of his TV is the problem. His cost will go up.

I cannot find words to express for you my depth of contempt for a measure which – by design – only affects the price of drinks drunk overwhelmingly by the lower socio-economic classes and – horror of horrors – the young! I drank a great deal more at university than I do now, and I consider the pleasures of that time a great boon to my life.

For those who find the hardships of life hard to take, the solace of alcohol can be considerable. It can assist the shy. There is very little social activity that does not carry risk of some kind. We see a determined effort to price the poor, and the poor alone, out of drinking. Should we try to price them out of driving too as that is also a risky activity causing many deaths?

I would object less to the law if the price increase also extended to the drinks of the middle class. I would still be against it, but at least it would not be aimed at targeting just the poor for daring to believe that, no matter how poor you are, you are still entitled to fun. This is worse than nanny state law; it is a law informed by the contempt the bourgeoisie feel for their social “inferiors”. It is despicable.

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212 thoughts on “Minimum Alcohol Pricing: The Middle Class Sneer at the Unworthy Under-Privileged (Again).

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  • Alcyone

    At last a post from Craig of spiritual substance! 😉 It’s a while since I saw such a furious rate of comments — clearly spirituality sells. 🙂

  • Clark

    Alcohol is a drug. Even making a drug totally illegal doesn’t reduce its consumption.

    “If all you’ve got is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”. Governments need to think further than taxation and law.

      • Clark

        Liberty, community, education, culture; such things will counter isolation and the companion of last resort, addiction. Nurture them.

    • kief

      This is true. opiod use has decreased significantly since medical marijuana has proliferated.

      Opiod deaths from overdose have decreased as well from cannabis as a companion. I’m glad you brought that us rather than I. Some think I am cannatonic because of my speech impeded introductiions. 🙂

    • Clark

      Hear hear! The conventional wisdom, never demonstrated but repeated for decades has been “it leads onto harder things”. The reality demonstrated by the “legal highs” law is that banning substances drives users onto more harmful things.

  • Phil the ex-frog

    My comment, making a valid point as part of a novel argument was deleted for calling hab a “shite”. However, hab’s comment, just his latest of years of relentless vacuous sniping with zero substance, calling someone else a “pile of merde” remains.

    In a post bemoaning the imposition of hypocritical middle class values! Hilarious.

  • Anon1

    Nice hatchet job on the Donald from the BBC on tonight’s Panorama. They still don’t get it. They won’t get it until it’s too late.

  • RobG

    What brilliant timing this post is, in light of the total disillusionment that the plebs presently have with the 1%.

    Revolution, folks, will be coming to a hovel near you sometime soon.

    And all the trolls will get what’s coming to them.

    And we’ll all live happily ever after.

    (cue the *Magic Roundabout* theme music)

    • kief

      Thanks for disrupting what was a productive thread and ACTUAL discussion. Kill the Dodo bird, will you?

        • michael norton

          good evening Rob
          how is your president
          I understand that he /it is trailing in the polls.
          I am also told that the state of emergency has been extended to cover the period of the presidential election?

  • lysias

    The war clouds are definitely receding: Washington Post: Trump, Putin agree in phone call to improve ‘unsatisfactory’ relations between their countries, Kremlin says:

    President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in a telephone conversation Monday that relations between their countries were “unsatisfactory” and vowed to work together to improve them, the Kremlin said in a statement.

    The statement said the two leaders discussed combining efforts in the fight against terrorism, talked about “a settlement for the crisis in Syria” and agreed their aides would begin working toward a face-to-face meeting between them.

    • kief

      As I’ve said the shackles are off Obomber and he’s glad to pass the baton to Trump. Hmm. I wonder if that 90 minute meeting was informative for Trump? The normal niceties average 15 minutes on the whole.

      • Herbie

        “I wonder if that 90 minute meeting was informative for Trump? The normal niceties average 15 minutes on the whole.”

        Normally there’s not much to discuss, as Tweedledum hands over to Tweedledee.

        Perhaps they’re indicating that this time it’s different.

  • Ian

    Don’t know about beer, but making your own mead is dead simple. I make about 50 gallons of the stuff a year. The process is pretty forgiving and one needn’t buy any specialized equipment. Made my first gallon of mead for about $20CDN with everything bought from a local grocery store. My airlock was a balloon with a pinprick in it. Worked out well.

    For a much cheaper drink, one could switch out the honey for some sugar. A colleague of mine used to buy DIY wine kits on sale from Costco. She was making wine for about $1CDN a bottle. Some of it wasn’t bad at all.

    I seldom buy wine or spirits any more. I have about seven different types of mead bubbling away at any one time. Completely organic, too. I know what goes in and can reasonably control what comes out. Great hobby. But does take a bit of patience at first.

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if minimum pricing laws resulted in more people brewing their own alcohol? The government would lose revenue and people might end up drinking more.

    • kief

      Dry or sweet Mead? you must be wealthy in either case as it takes a ton of expensive honey to make.

      As I understand it, any where from eight to fifteen pounds of honey to yield 5 gallons of 18% alcohol Mead.

      Is that about right?

        • michael norton

          Much more harm is caused in the United Kingdom by residents consuming too much processed food, than is ever caused byt them consuming drink.

      • Ian

        I tend to like my meads fairly dry and strong. I have made sweet meads on occasion, more by accident than by design. Managed to drink them all nevertheless, although there was one once that I had to cut with a rather dry mead to make it more palatable.

        It takes about 3 to 3.5 pounds of honey to make a gallon of mead. Which would cost a fortune were I living in the UK. Fortunately, the price of honey is much more reasonable in Canada. I was shocked at the price of honey when visiting relatives in the UK.

        Not sure why honey is so expensive in the UK. My uncle who keeps a few hives sells any excess honey when he has it, and he certainly isn’t fetching anywhere near the price they’re charging in the stores. Hardly enough to make it worth the bother.

        But the same process for making mead can be applied to just about any liquid with sufficient sugar. I once made a “mead/wine” using molasses. That took a bit of aging. And I once made a “mead/wine” using maple syrup. That was expensive and not particularly pleasant. The fermentation process seemed to accentuate some off flavours. But that can happen with honey, too. Had some blueberry honey once which was very pleasant to eat, but it didn’t make for nice mead.

          • Ian

            The amount of honey would certainly be a primary factor in the eventual alcohol content of any mead, but other factors also come into play such as the alcohol tolerance of the yeast used, the acidity of the must, nutrients, if any, used and temperature…

            But, as mentioned, mead tends to be very forgiving. Mix honey, water and yeast together, then leave them to ferment with an airlock in place, and you’re bound to end up with an alcoholic drink. The sweetness and strength of your mead will depend on controlling for the other factors.

  • bevin

    This cant, to the effect that the only thing wrong with Britain is that the poor drink too much, is very old. It is certainly true that many people suffer, and cause suffering, through drinking too much -and, often enough, eating too little- but they do so for a wide variety of reasons all of which can be traced to the scourge of class society.
    There are some people who truly believe that good will come-to lonely wives and malnourished children, neighbours and the community in general- by increasing the cost of alcohol.
    They are wrong: the likelihood is that the price increases will simply reduce the amount of money left after buying alcohol. The suffering will increase. But never mind: the canting hypocritical bourgeoisie will be able to tell themselves that they have done their best to repair a social evil.
    What would help, in the short term, is a resumption of the Full Employment policy, together with a guarantee of the right to strike. This would allow the poor to reverse the pillage of several decades during which their wealth, health, security, peace of mind and civil rights have been taken from them and translated into an enormous gulf running through the middle of society, separating the wealthy from the masses.
    Scotland has an historic problem with alcohol in large part because the Scots working class have been badly exploited- look at the housing conditions in Europe’s worst slums for example- for many years.
    There is a point in life at which those treated badly, those deprived of any chance of improving their lot, those forced to witness their social impotence and their failure to protect their own, seek oblivion. In alcohol. And perhaps in death.
    And what does the Scots Parliament do about this?
    It puts the price of a can of cider up.
    Jesus. Is the legacy of sneering Evangelicalism so ingrained in the culture that otherwise sensible people cannot see that this is to blame the victim and punish him.
    What will be next? To increase the minimum price of McDonalds burgers to solve the problem of obesity.
    Will that guide people to better eating habits?
    As to all the “studies” from Social Workers etc. They should be ashamed of themselves; their job is to help the vulnerable not kick them when they are down. The conclusions that they reach are refuted by centuries of Gradgrind and Lady Bountiful bullying the victims of their own class’s greed and selfishness.
    The sneering Tories who comment here call this sub-Marxism.
    They jeer at the idea that the poor will not tolerate much more of this persecution. They are whistling as they pass the graveyard: the signs are everywhere: change is in the air.
    The system of repressing common sense and decency is breaking down.
    Nobody believes the MSM.
    Nobody believes the corrupt Academy whose prostituted wisdom they retail.
    Nobody believes that the denizens of Holyrood House have their best interests at heart: they know that they are just going through the motions. They know that they dare not address the real causes of alcoholism, domestic violence, suicidal despair and the terrible plague of permanent insecurity, the sense that things can only get worse.
    We’ve been here before: the solution is to sweep away the cowards and the time servers and the legions of parasites festering on the body politic. .

    • Alan

      “Scotland has an historic problem with alcohol in large part because the Scots working class have been badly exploited- look at the housing conditions in Europe’s worst slums for example- for many years.”

      For example, where Ms Sturgeon used to have her offices, until the rats overran the place.

    • RobG

      Bevin, your posts are often quite brilliant and insightful.

      But please do figure out what a paragraph break is.

      Otherwise there’s no hope for the human race.

      • Alcyone

        In bevins World there is no hope for the human race anyway. So he slashes himself! Dunno about the brilliance etc., are you quite sure about it or are you being diplomatic this evening?

    • Alcyone

      I never thought I could read through a whole comment of yours. Somehow, I was brave enough to do so now. What a wonderful, flowery, meaningful end to your after-dinner speech.

      Have you no idea whatsoever of the concepts of self-knowledge, awareness, even awake-ness, self-responsibility, pleasure, suffering, pain, rationality, right action? Or are these mere philosophical ‘ideas’ that people in the upper classes are privy to? You poor overtrodden lot! I wish I could buy you one now. But in the morning you will still be ignorant.

        • Alcyone

          Brilliant Craig, am delighted to hear! Perfect time of year too. Hope the publisher will stock enough copied to sell at the festival. India could be key to this; I think you are on a roll…

        • Alcyone

          If I remember correctly, I think Paxman is there too this January. So you’ll be in Good Company! 😉

  • Alcyone

    “We don’t know much about the human conscience, except that it is soluble in alcohol.”

    John Mortimer

    I first read this snippet in John Murray’s ‘A gentleman publisher’s commonplace book.’

  • Macky

    I can only echo Bevin’s recent compliment regarding the brassness of your own neck, as you are the one who sneaked back onto this Blog after being permanently banned by changing your username, (and stopped going on about your K guru until you were eventually outed), and of course you were the one who posting expletives laced threats the Mods, and boasting of bombarding Craig with email appeals to overturn your ban, threatening even get the police involved !! 😀

  • Gordon

    “Six stiff G and T’s at the golf club is fine. The price won’t go up. The poor guy with his four tins of super strength lager in front of his TV is the problem. His cost will go up.”

    Meanwhile, Tesco are reducing the amount of “everyday value” items they stock. In other words, they are imposing price rises, and very large ones too, on the poor. These don’t get reflected in the Retail Price Index either.

    • Del

      Tesco, like Morrisons and other supermarkets, were selling whisky and gin at £15 the litre. They’ve stopped that; it’s now £19 the litre. Help ma boab!

  • punklin

    Craig: in your admirably libertarian response to the detail of how this law is framed, you fail to grasp the bigger picture.

    There is an overwhelming medical case for restraint on the pricing policies of the exploitative and irresponsible big retailers of booze, backed by most health experts.

    Quite agree with your view on how it shouldn’t fall on the poorest but you ignore the other more crucial elements of this legislation.

    • craig Post author


      But there is a still bigger picture. I don’t hold that the key to a good life is for it to be as long as possible. If I can become very personal, I have been fortunate to lead an extraordinary life in which some of the more exciting aspects will very probably have shortened it. But I would never swap for a duller and longer life. People can’t live for ever and the obsession with trying to do so is to me strange.

      • Charlie Brown


        I don’t know whether you had it already in mind when writing that but you will perhaps no doubt know the quote of Kingsley Amis which has for me at least, become something of a mantra by which I live my life. And it appears you too!

        “No pleasure is worth giving up for the sake of two more years in a geriatric home at Weston-super-Mare.”

        That, and one of my favourite Sinatra quotes…

        “Basically, I’m for anything that gets you through the night – be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.”

        It perhaps does not lead to the sort of life that my GP would approve of – nor for that matter some po-faced bureaucrat in Dept of Health – but after volunteering for 7 years in my local hospice, if there’s something it’s taught me, it’s that the Buddhists are right: a healthy body is simply the slowest way of dying….

          • Charlie Brown

            Indeed Rumpole did say something similar. Although, as I seem to remember it was from his ‘last case’ in 1987 and as the Amis quote dates back much earlier than that, it means that John Mortimer very likely nicked it off Amis.

            It wouldn’t be the first time that the old rogue recycled a good quote!

      • punklin

        Sorry that’s not a still bigger picture, merely judging the world from your own perspective which however ‘extraordinary’ misses out for instance the huge burden on families and the NHS of alcohol-related issues and also the personal misery of those trapped by addiction.

        I could be just as egocentric in my outlook when I think of my alcoholic brother whose painfully shitty life ended before he was 50. Wouldn’t dream of claiming his particular case related to price but looking at the general medical evidence, I find the case for control unanswerable.

  • Uzmark

    Maybe supermarkets in the UK should let you buy one or two cans of beer at a time instead of four – you’re not allowed to break the pack in the big name stores in my experience. (“You really want me to get drunk” is my favourite whinge at the staff)

  • Peter Bryce

    Craig, you touched upon in passing another interesting and sinister point: the pricing of the poor out of driving. This is happening through the use of greater taxation on the cheaper, second-hand cars driven by the mass of poorer drivers, under the guise of environmentalism. In fact, the free movement of the masses is undesirable, far better to have them only able to move around by state controlled public transport. And of course, the rich are unaffected. Inhibiting the ability of the masses to travel, to protests, demonstrations, political rallies under their own steam and at a place and time of their choosing is a desirable objective of state control. I think this subject would be worthy of your closer consideration and comment Craig.

    • michael norton

      Quite, I just re-insured my nearly thirty year old Landrover, I have 16 years no claims
      it had gone up by £200 from last year.

      I am sure I’ve been stitched up, I could have left it in the garden but it is now not legal to have a vehicle without insurance unless you SORN it. But you then have to to have it taxed.
      This also means you loose part of a month that the government keep of your road fund license fee.

      There is also the “fee@ the government now take out of your insurance premium.
      They are indeed taxing the poor off the road – swines.

      So you can’t pay for your fags/drink/car.

      Yet we are all in it together – to what aim?

      • Kempe

        Thefts of Land Rovers have risen by 75% in some areas since production ended. They’ve become a “hip” vehicle in the US and go for silly money. The increase in your premium might reflect that.

      • RobG

        I’d just say “fuck ’em”.

        If enough people refuse to go along with *rip-off Britain* the a-hole politicians won’t be able to enforce these laws.

        And you perhaps also have to ask who these a-hole politicians are, and who are voting for them.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Now Ted Cruz has been spoitted around Trump Towers,apparently looking for a position in the Trump government, though Donald has indicated thay Ted’s father, Rafael, was involved in the JFK assassination.

    This group is making The Mob look like a Tea Party.

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