On minimum pricing of alcohol

This is one of the hottest recent themes in Scottish politics. In short: the SNP put forward a bill for tackling Scottish ‘booze culture’ by setting a minimum price to a unit of sold alcohol, the other three main Holyrood parties rejected the bill on the grounds that it would do more (economic) hard than good, the SNP and journalists keep returning to the theme.

Now, whatever your opinion about the bill itself… but that is exactly what I want to talk about. Much as I like the Caledonian Mercury, this is one of those cases when only my cynicism prevents me from using the word painful in connection with reading the comments prevailing after the recurring related articles. I am quite ready to believe that the real reason why the bill has not been passed was that the three parties mentioned simply wanted to vote against the SNP. That said, this does not in itself mean that the bill would indisputably help.

In my opinion. But those CalMerc commentators do not allow such an opinion. They know The Truth, which is, that the bill was unquestionably the one and only panacea for all Scotland’s alcohol-related ills. If you dare to have a different opinion, if you even dare to have some doubts, you’re a heretic, or, at best, a complete moron.

I could talk here at length about these shortcuts to a healthier society. About G K Chesterton’s novel The Flying Inn, which brilliantly exposes the mindsets behind such proposals. About the American prohibition and the organized crime. About the Russian one and the pitch-black market. About my nineteen years of dedicated boozing, which experience makes me somewhat doubtful about the possible success of the scheme. (Mind you, I quit three years ago. No vested interest here any longer.)

But I admit that it might work. Who can say for sure beforehand? You know the answer. These social engineers, whose almost religious fanaticism does not let them even consider the possibility that they might be wrong.



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