Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Buckie Stops Here

Well...err...actually probably not.

What is more likely may well be booze drives in 4x4s to Cumbria or Northumberland. Teenagers laughing outside supermarkets as they drink their illegally gained Buckfast Tonic wine incredulous as the middle classes have to queue twice to get their more expensive Chardonnay or Whisky to enjoy with or after their meal.

Yesterday Nicola Sturgeon laid out the SNP plans which they feel will tackle Scotland's drink problem a "social responsibility fee". The only thing the SNP would appear to have learned, from recent errors, is that said tax, sorry fee, will be set by local authorities, however they will have to fund a way of collecting this. The SNP haven't said they will provide the funding to allow for that: no real surprise there then.

They think that introducing a second supermarket alcohol only counter will prevent 'impulse' buying of alcohol by shaming people into not buying it. Shame may not be the problem, inconvenience maybe. On Monday while I was in Tesco I heard three calls for all staff to go man the tills while I was shopping, a separate booze till may well have meant the shelves would never have been replenished.

A closer look at the SNP's minimum pricing rule say 35p per unit shows that while McEwans Export premium would go from £2.08 to £2.80 per liter, Whisky and Wine would be up but just under 25%, supermarket own brand lager would go up by 32%. However the drink of preference of on-street, teenage drinkers, the bottles that litter the streets every morning through the weekend and school holidays, Buckfast, would remain unchanged. Sure the SNP plan to stop them getting their alcohol for 3 more years until they turn 21 but the ones who already break the law by getting some before their 18th are hardly likely to be put off by that law change.

In essence the SNP will be increasing exports of Scottish Whisky, especially to Carlisle and Berwick being the first stops of the booze drives to England. After all Whisky is not an impulse buy for most enjoyers of the odd dram so they will happily stock up on trips to England. So shipping costs of Whisky will increase, pollution to transport it once to England to sell then back to Scotland to drink will increase our carbon footprint.

Also agitated shoppers hoping to have a nice bottle of wine with their meal will have to queue twice in busy supermarkets, adding to trolley rage and car park rage. Only the ardent young drinker it seems will remain relatively non-plussed by the whole experience, either having to create fake ID with an earlier date of birth, or more worryingly befriending some over 21 rather than over 18 to buy them some drink.

Wow it looks like the Nats are doing everybody else's jobs for them in how to win back Nat votes. Keep up the good work.


Jeff said...

So despite your clear distaste for the SNP's proposed policies you do not put forward a single alternative suggestion?

Or maybe you think Scotland doesn't have a binge-drinking problem and we can continue with the status quo?

I daresay voters will always back a party that has big ideas and has a go at solving problems as opposed to one that carps at the sidelines with nothing constructive to say.

For further evidence of that approach from the Lib Dems, your mate Anything Caron Can Do has a corker of a recent post on this subject.

At least you managed to keep it clean....

Stephen Glenn said...

Ok Jeff you cited the American example on your blog. In the USA you cannot buy alcohol in a bar or an off licenced premises until you are 21. The SNP are proposing a split in what an 18-21 year old can do, why one not the other.

The tax, social responsibility fee, call it what you want will make certain drinks more expensive and one prime example Buckfast not. I do not see bottles of whisky or most wines lying around the streets in the morning. I'm constantly encountering Buckfast. I will admit that cans of lager are also there present.

Plus the way this fee is going to be raised by the SNP, set at local rates and collected locally is going to cause all sorts of issues. As I mentioned the border ares will be the start of the division. Therefore Dumfries and Galloway and the Border coucinl will set a minimal rate of the fee, as their offies and supermarkets will complain about loss of trade over the border. There will be a concetina effect only the islands will probably remain immune as the cost of travlling my CalMac to the next nearest retailing region are too prohibitive.

As I also pointed out by imposing this the SNP would actually be affecting the Scottish economy abd the nation's carbon footprint.

The teenagers who already start binge drinking under the age of 18 are not going to be put off by the raise of the age to 21. Armadale may well have been quieter during the trial. I'm awaiting an answer to a question I've asked the local police about the increase presence and activity around Bathgate. We are the next nearest large town to Armadale. I can assure you there was a lot more young people loitering aroung where I am near the town centre than normal, plus they weren't the usual faces that I know to be local. Coincidental? I don't think so.

There is also as I posted yesterday the two questions about whether the Scottish Parliament can a) go against European law and set a minimum price on abny good without b) setting a tax on it which the Scotland Act has not given the Scottish Parliament the power to change.

Currently we have legislation in place to stop retailers selling to underage buyers. Retailers also have the right to refuse to sell if they think the purchaser is already inebriated. There is also the power of the police to give dispersal orders to those displaying unsociable conduct.

Quite frankly it is a gimmicky set of policies that grab the public attnetion, which are not deliverable, nor achievable. Why I should propose any alternative to something so sub-standard to what is currently in place.

What I would do however, is spend money on more social awareness and education of the problems and fund police or community wardens to look out for these unsociable practices at the peak times.


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