I was sorting some stuff upstairs, half listening to dramatic unfoldings in parliament. A sneaky ass bit of political manouvering, serving up a heavy dose of social control, alongside the nation’s favourite drug. Previewed through the Daily Mail and Guardian in true modern democratic style, the bill was quickly spun as a ‘peasant tax’. We have always underplayed the damage alcohol doe sto the fabric of our society, because it is the nations favourite drug. Patricia Hewitt just attacked one of the untouchables. Booze, pensioners and the NHS? They are trolling.

Now, disregarding the ‘enforced sobriety’ and bullshit paternalism covering social control, tory style. the term ‘peasant tax’ thing is a bit misleading. And offensive. And it is worth noting because it will be pushed heavily as a soundbite.

A quick glance through the IFS briefing on it brings about the following points.

”Lager and cider (which have low per-unit prices) would be particularly heavily impacted’

”whereas alcopops would not.”

”the reform might encourage strong beer drinkers to consume strong cider instead.”

”The effects would be largest for those who drink the most: about four-fifths of units bought by those consuming 30 or more units per week.”

”45p/unit minimum price would transfer £1.4 billion a year from drinkers to alcohol producers and retailers. If the intention is to raise the overall price of alcohol, it would seem preferable that these revenues flow to the Government instead.”

Peasant tax not an appropriate term. The beneficiaries are not the treasury. It will affect most off license sales and will benefit those complaining about pubs declining. This is just legislation which removes the need for big companies to provide loss leaders.  Protects their profit margins. Alcopops  presumably exempt as pocket money may not expand to higher prices.

This is not about tackling drinking and does not raise revenue. It is part of an overall nonsense based strategy to substance misuse, that is out of step with the global change in attitudes to the western war on drugs but in step with the needs of companies with the ear of the government. While I believe there is an argumennt for targeting alcohol pricing as part of an evidence based drugs strategy, this is bollocks.  It is an exploitation of those with substance misuse issues, for profit, with a side order of being kicked for the media. To legitimise socially conservative paternalist bullshit.

By the way. Peasant, pisshead, and poor are not the same thing in today’s economy.  Keep YOUR paternalistic bullshit to yourself, there are quite substantial issues which need to be discussed here.

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