Wednesday, 28 November 2012

I'll Drink To This

I remember 90p a pint (i.e., 45p perunit) in certain workingmen’s clubs nearly 20 years ago. But I should be fascinated to hear of anywhere where it was still the case. Is this going to be the law, or have I misunderstood?

As someone who now drinks very moderately despite a capacity for alcohol long remarked upon by other people, I am not sure what to make of proposals for minimum pricing. They seem to be hitting the wrong target, which is alcoholic drinks stronger than beer, specifically designed for immature palettes, and, yes, priced for the pocket money market, or at least the Saturday job market.

Why shouldn’t I be able to buy four bottles of real ale for six quid? It would take me over a week to get through them. But making anything last over a week because it is worth savouring is not how the adolescent mind works. And being able to appreciate anything worth savouring in that way is not how the adolescent palette works. So why discriminate in favour of the adolescent pocket?

Minimum pricing is not the panacea for this country’s endemic drunkenness, but it certainly has its place. However, we now discover that, even if they wanted to, the alcohol manufacturers could not arrange such a scheme among themselves, since that would be a breach of competition law. Was there ever anything - anything at all - less conservative than capitalism? Oh, well, over to the force that makes family values possible in practice: the State.

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