Monday, January 02, 2012

Drink !

Now there's going to be trouble - the govt want to take away Father Jack's bottle ( and everyone else's ).

So the inevitable bun fight between the libertarians and the modernisers on the centre right has started.

Normally I lean to the libertarian side of the argument and away from the dark road to soclialism that regulation and restrictions bring.

But there's no denying we have a problem. Photo's of a night out in Cardiff that recently humiliated the UK are all to real ( as is the misery and frankly lonliness and lack of confidence that these scenes represent ).

So what to do ?

Up the minimum price of Alcohol ? I would support this if its effective - what does the experience in Scotland with this show ? ( In the past the Victorian crisis with Gin was solved this way ).

Do something about our drinking culture ? Yes - but the solution is perhaps less obvious than it seems. To my mind student lifestyles are a key issue here. Freshers week is pickled and loads of just of the leash 18 yr olds are told the adult way is binge drinking. Given how nervous and vulnerable they are at that point (but would never admit to it) they are a push over. The vast increase in those attending University has been reflected in the vast increase in the University student drinking culture. Something needs to be done here.

Do something about the drinks on offer ? Alcopops have a lot to answer for here and lead onto the vast spirit consumption we now see. People should be encouraged to drink beer, and lower proof beer should be a lot cheaper ( as the govt is doing ). Personally I would outlaw larger - but that's just the real ale old man in me speaking.

Do something about opening hours ? Personally I never minded the old limit s on opening hours, but as they existed before supper markets sold very passable cheap beer it would probably just wipe out what's left of our pubs. However the move to city centre clusters of bars has been a very bad thing. In Liverpool, which I visit often from time to time, I've seen the old local pubs close and the city centre binge drinking sky rocket.

A lot of things will have to be tried. I understand the libertarians hate all this stuff, but the sad truth is this is a herd issue. People behave as a herd in this area and herd solutions will be required or else we will be seeing many relatively young people die of violence now, or liver diseases later on.

Politically its going to be a brave government that tackles this.



Antisthenes said...

The solution is simple make people responsible for their own actions. However creating the environment that allows this simple solution is not. As you cannot introduce the simple without solving the complex then the problem is intractable and therefore best ignored. Left to fester society will eventually recognise what needs to be done and will create the environment needed. Society along the way will of course try all the remedies you advocate until they are exhausted and found to not be doing the job. So time and patience is what is needed.

Barnacle Bill said...

Maybe it doesn't have to be politically tackled?
I have two daughters in their mid twenties, whose alcohol consumption is certainly less than it was a few years ago.
Also is binge drinking really on the increase?
Was Cardiff selected because it provided the "best" photo/spin opportunities?
I could do a week's filming in the small Cornish fishing port i grew up in. Which would convince anyone that the problem was at the more senior end of the age scale!
Finally, the depression/recession we're still in may take care of this problem for us.
So as far as I'm concerned Cast Iron should stop poking his nose into this and get on with sorting out more important matters.
I've got two grandsons, whose futures concern me greatly, especially with the way this country is going.
If Cast iron doesn't pull his finger out soon, I'll be urging my daughters to join their mother out in New Zealand.

Brew Wales said...

The photos you refer to of 'a night out in Cardiff' were taken over the course of 3 years not in one night. The tabloids have pushed the idea that it was one night.

Simon Cooke said...

The problem is vastly overstated - our alcohol consumption has fallen ever year since around 2002 (interestingly the time when a lore liberal licensing regime was introduced) with the biggest fall amoung men aged 16-24, the biggest problem group.

We are tackling a problem that, if it exists, is already changing as society changes its attitude to drinking (and importantly to not drinking). The Cardiff scenario could have been captured at almost any time across the last 30 years - people get drunk, sometimes excessively drunk (I certainly did 30 years ago) - as an example it is rubbish.

The only indicator that we has a "growing alcohol problem" is hospital admissions - figures that have been shamelessless manipulated by the New Puritans controlling our public health sector.

Other measures - level of violent crime, for example - have fallen more or less in line with the recorded decline in alcohol consumption.

manwiddicombe said...

Beer Duty rose massively under Brown/Darling forcing up the price of a pint. I'd argue (and not just because I have an interest) that the solution may be to REDUCE beer duty making it cheaper to purchase. This might disincentivise the use of higher ABV alternatives and, through increased liquid volume, reduce alcohol related problems (it's hard to fight on a full bladder).

Tony said...

The means to solve this problem already exist - simply enforce the existing drunk and disorderly laws. Increase the fines to , say, £200 for the first offence, and £500 per offence thereafter.

It would require additional police and court resources for a short time until the message got through, but then just think how much the NHS would save.

Why is it the politicians, hand-wringers and do-gooders cannot see this ?

Man in a Shed said...

Thinking about all this some more, over a bottle of Old Thumper.

Can't help the impression that's what's really gone wrong is letting anyone drink anything other than Mild, Bitter, Pale Ale or Stout.

Or maybe I'm just a Hobbit.

Ed P said...

The real price of alcohol has already risen much faster than inflation over the last 20 years. City centres have changed: supermarkets with free parking have sucked the shoppers out of town and destroyed smaller specialist shops, leaving the bars.
But there really isn't a problem: statistics are manipulated - any hospital admission will tick the alcohol box if the patient had been drinking, regardless of the cause of the injury. (Similarly smoking is "puffed up" (pun intended!) in the statistics if the medical condition could be, not is, related.)
It's important to fight these Fabian/Statist methods of manipulation - there is no dirty trick which these people with their zealous Puritanism will not use to force their crass ideas on the majority.

Elby the Beserk said...

What do we do? Simple. Charge anyone requiring medical treatment as a result of alcohol abuse. Charger the abuser, not everyone else. So much for Cameron's twattering on about shrinking the state.