Alienating the majority? (Geoff McCarron)

With reference to the article in The Shetland Times of 28th October, “Minimum alcohol price rule welcomed”, I wish to make the following comments.

Firstly, for the purpose of this letter, I am referring to those who take a drink only. It states that retailers, health professionals and the police have welcomed moves to introduce a minimum price on alcohol, and the Scottish government will shortly introduce such legislation.

Taking each of the bodies in turn, as retailers, you risk the chance of alienating the 90 per cent of your customers who drink responsibly, hardly a sound business model.

On the health professionals, the NHS was conceived and set up for the benefit of all universally, regardless of race, creed, income, sexual orientation and income.

Just by making alcohol more expensive will certainly not make more people give it up. Look at hardcore drugs for example and you see that with much more strict laws, usage is still growing.

As for the police, it would appear that they just want everyone to stay indoors 24/7 although it is their duty to police the laws of the land and protect those who pay for them through their taxes.

Going on to the Scottish government, do they seriously think that this law will stop the type of behaviour that they are trying to cut out of everyday life? The vast minority of people who abuse drink will continue to do so; simply charging more for it is no answer.

Education is the answer, but the minimum pricing rules are quite simply lazy legislation. If this is the best idea that they can come up with then I think that they are in the wrong job. It is gormless, scattergun legislation which will punish those in the majority for those in the minority.

This is simply not fair and equitable. Once again, the liberalist nanny state do-gooders are making the majority who handle drink responsibly subsidise with their taxes, the minority who don’t.

Looking at another angle, it could be argued that this rule may promote crime as some may turn to such ways to obtain the means to cover these increases. Nothing like joined-up thinking … and this certainly is nothing like joined-up thinking at all.

Geoff McCarron


Add Your Comment
  • Ali Inkster

    • November 12th, 2016 19:01

    0.7 litres of vodka at 40% by volume alcohol has 32.4 units, at 50p per unit the minimum price it could be sold for is £16.20 about the same or less than a bottle of premium vodka sells for now. So when I was asked as a retailer I answered that I expected it to make no difference whatsoever to my business or my customers. The reporter told me that was pretty much the same reaction he had got from other retailers that he had spoken to. So rather than saying we welcomed it after speaking to other retailers I would say we are broadly indifferent to legislation that has more to do with headlines than tackling the issue.

    • Steven Jarmson

      • November 23rd, 2016 19:16

      The point isn’t the price.
      Once the concept is in place the price per unit will go up year on year and eventually the so called Scottish Government will want the unit price to be treated as a direct tax to be collected. Then the prices will shoot up.
      Then the average, law abiding person in the street will have no choice but government enforced abstinence.
      The SNP aren’t always a dumb as they sound.

  • Tom Morton

    • November 13th, 2016 14:15

    Worth reading this from Alcohol Focus Scotland, Geoff: It may be a ‘broad brush’ in its approach, but minimum pricing has been proven to work, notably in Canada. And the legislation is not aimed at the consumers of ‘premium’ anything, Ali, but those who buy that seven-quid-a-bottle Lidl window cleaner substitute.

    • Shuard Manson

      • November 13th, 2016 22:48

      The poor?

    • Ali Inkster

      • November 14th, 2016 14:45

      A bottle of low grade vodka has 26.3 units making its minimum price £13.15 pretty much the price it sells for now. A bottle of white stripe “cider” has 15 units and sells for £2.89 it will now cost £7.50 which will make it more than a half bottle of low grade vodka, so if you were desperate for a drink and a bit hard up you will now switch from cider to vodka. Way to go holyrood.

      • geoffrey mccarron

        • November 19th, 2016 10:43

        as I said, not much joined up thinking has gone into this at all.

    • geoffrey mccarron

      • November 19th, 2016 10:41

      yes Tom, but is there not enough interference in our life already, we are more and more being told how to live our lives, and, why should the responsible be punished for those who are not. Education is the answer, not dodgy legislation. Also, as for the retailers, I assume the person has canvassed other retailers – don’t be hypocrites, if you support minimum pricing, don’t preach that it has to become law because binge drinking has become an issue, then don’t sell booze in your establishments.

  • Eric Burgess

    • November 13th, 2016 17:42

    I fully agree with Mr McCarron – if you drink you drink! Even if we had prohibition alcohol could be obtained – look back at that period in the USA. As with drugs use, education seems to me the only way forward, but how to educate users is beyond me. It does not make sense to punish those who like the occasional drink by restrictive sales.

  • paul barlow

    • November 14th, 2016 9:00

    minimum price has its place. but in Shetland, it would be far easier to provide a photo list of problem drinker both voluntary and by the courts banning them from buying drink. it could be made a requirement of the retailers licences to not allow alcoholic drinks to be sold to known problem drinkers. it may seem harse but our Victorian ancestors used a similar system to control habitual drunks.

    Shetland does have a culture of drinking this does need to be addressed. if you look at the crime reports a high proportion involves drink. more compulsory drink intervention would be far better than a mere fine. similarly to drunk drivers an intervention is needed. no one can claim that they did not know its wrong to drink drive. so they have an issue. active involvement in controlling a drinkers problem may cost more in the short term but it will save loads in the medium to long term. not to mention the positives for the drunks family and themselves.

    • Ali Inkster

      • November 14th, 2016 14:47

      So you expect retailers to do the job of the police? You expect them to face down “problem drinkers” ?
      I think not.

    • Duncan Simpson

      • November 20th, 2016 9:04

      What a terrible suggestion! The LAST thing an addict needs is to be ostracized by his own community. Addiction is a disease. People with these problems need support. People who are at risk of developing these problems need to be educated.

      Also, as Ali also said, how is fair to put the poor shop worker in that position? This also gives our very inconsistent legal system greater scope to dish out unfair punishments. What would be the criteria for this “alcohol ban”? Someone who is caught urinating outside when the pubs are shut and the public toilet is locked? Is that a “problem drinker”?

      Your suggestion wouldn’t help addicts and would lead to people who don’t even have drink problems being victimised by the courts. The court already has ample powers to deal with offenders who go out and get drunk and be violent.

      • Steven Jarmson

        • November 23rd, 2016 19:19

        Photo galleries aren’t any kind of answer.
        However, licences, which can be enforced or lost for bad behaviour would be enforceable.

  • Ian Tinkler

    • November 14th, 2016 16:02

    1930’s USA gives us a good idea of what state controls on alcohol, can do. The “War on Drugs”, is doing exactly that in the UK. Making Criminals wealthy,.. Legalise Pot, sends most people to sleep, problem solved.


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