Yesterday's Sunday Times had a substantial piece by Dominic Lawson about minimum pricing of alcohol. He concluded, correctly, that "A minimum price per unit of alcohol is a form of collective punishment" and pointed out that "a minimum price for alcohol is likely to lead to a significant transfer of revenue from consumers to producers and retailers". But we know that don't we? That's why people like Greene King and BrewDog support it. Not out of any kind of altruism, but good old money. Contrast that with Tim Martin of Wetherspoon who isn't noted for high prices, calling supporters of minimum pricing "Flat Earthers". It is altogether remarkable that otherwise intelligent people support it in the vain hope of stopping something they have read about in the papers or seen on television called "bad behaviour", or in the case of Alcohol Concern, to pursue a prohibitionist agenda (first control the price, then make it difficult to buy it, then ban it.), the real but misguided concerns of doctors - why not address individual problem drinkers? - the equally misguided wishful thinking of CAMRA that somehow this will translate into more pub going, or whatever this rag, tag and bobtail of do gooders want to do to the rest of us. (My only hope on that one is that CAMRA is following a policy of keeping friends close, but enemies closer still, but somehow, I doubt it.)
What is remarkable is how Dominic Lawson tears apart every argument. He rubbishes the idea that you need to legislate on price to deal with late night rowdiness. He suggests instead that the Police just lock up the perpetrators for being drunk and disorderly and repeatedly do so. Seems like a good idea surely? Lawson reserves particular scorn for Sheffield University for its "wild exaggeration and incompetence" in dealing with alcohol statistics and has a swipe at BrewDog's bizarre take on it all (James again) by saying "Sounds as though he has been celebrating". Instead he counters with some actual facts such as alcohol consumption has fallen by nearly 20% since 2006 and points out that somewhat inconveniently, this has not resulted in a fall in alcohol related deaths, which would have happened if what Sheffield University purports to be true, actually was true. He quotes extensively from the Adam Smith Institute who have been studying this subject for 40 years. The leading experts within this field state "We are in the unusual position of being able to empirically disprove a prediction about policy which has not yet been introduced."
Now of course Lawson wasn't looking at shifting drinkers into pubs, but he does also hammer the idea that supermarkets are indulging routinely in below cost sales. Such happenings account for less than 1% of alcohol sales and have no real effect on consumption
If, like me you think they are out to get us, it is a real good read. It does seem that there is some hitting back taking place, so let's see more of it.
I'll drink to that. Responsibly of course. I'd like to have linked to the article, but it is hidden firmly behind the Sunday Times's paywall. The Morning Advertiser has a good piece here however.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, CAMRA Chairman and (local) activist, beer author, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
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