Sunday, 13 June 2010

Should we all pay the price of alcohol abuse?

The puritans were out in force on The Big Questions this morning to discuss the question "Should we all pay the price of alcohol abuse?".

I was pleased to see the case against price rises represented by Andrew Withers of LPUK. As with the earlier debate on drink driving, the libertarians were pitted against the combined forces of the religious leaders who would save our souls, and the BMA, who want to save our bodies.

The specific proposal discussed was the minimum price of 50p per unit. As Mr Withers capably argued, this would do nothing to prevent 'problem drinking', but would represent "collective punishment" against tens of millions of responsible drinkers.

Withers also highlighted the need for personal responsibility. Even if a minimum price could reduce problem drinking, it would still be the wrong approach. Far better to hold people to account for their actions, whether drunk or sober.

It was disturbing to see how much support there was for minimum pricing in the audience. They were a self-selecting group, and unlikely to be representative of the population as a whole, but this suits the BBC perfectly, for it produces a subtle bias. The creeping denormalisation of alcohol continues.

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