(DK is away)
From The Scotsman:
The economic hangover of the smoking ban and the effects of the recession have both been blamed for fewer people going to pubs, but it is clear the supermarkets and a growing culture of drinking at home are the real cause for the decline.
Oh, for the love of...
Alright then, one more time. There is not a growing culture of drinking at home because the supermarkets are selling more alcohol. There is a growing culture of drinking at home because of the smoking ban which, in turn, has led to the supermarkets selling more alcohol. People who drink at home tend to buy their alcohol from supermarkets. Not pubs. Supermarkets not pubs. Horse then cart. Do you see how that works?
How can I be so sure? Well, partly because supermarkets have been under-cutting pubs for - ooh, how long? - for-fucking-ever, and partly because recessions do not traditionally damage the pub trade to any great extent. But even if they did, the most dramatic rise in pub closures happened before the recession began.
So worried are the nation's publicans that the Scottish Licensed Traders' Association is calling for minimum pricing for alcohol in the hope of preventing supermarkets using drink as a loss-leader.
My, my. Quite a little campaign underway for this particular piece-of-shit legislation at the moment, isn't there? The BBC, in addition to publishing laughable propaganda denying that pubs are closing at all (really, have a read of it), dedicated a whole episode of Panorama last week to pushing minimum pricing (and it was bollocks from start to finish, naturally).
But now the unhinged Trotsykist maniacs who run Scotland have agreed to consider such a law, it's all hands to the pumps for the evil, lying, fake charity fuck-sticks as they try to persuade the rest of the UK to go down this totalitarian cul-de-sac. Regular readers of the Kitchen will recognise some familiar names:
Don Shenker of Alcohol Concern managed to squeeze 3 of the 5 myths about alcohol into 35 words:
"Alcohol is now 75 per cent more affordable than it was in 1980, and consumption has risen as a result. We've all seen cans of cheap supermarket lager on sale for less than bottled water."
For the BBC, he even managed to give the whole thing a think-of-the-children twist:
"When 11 litres of supermarket cider costs less than the price of a Harry Potter ticket, it's no wonder they think alcohol is better value for money"
Then there's Alan "libertarian by nature" Maryon-Davis, who seems to be turning into some sort of rapper, if his message to the BBC is any indication:
"Enough is enough and it's time to get tough."
The authoritarian scumbag added:
"The government should stop pussyfooting around and set a minimum price for alcohol that eliminates ultra-cheap heavy drinking without disaffecting all those who drink moderately."
And then, on Sunday, fake charity ringleader Ian Gilmore popped up to spout his usual shite:
Gilmore said the cirrhosis figures showed this policy was "failing" and that the introduction of a minimum pricing regime for alcohol was now vital to safeguard the nation's health.
What really gives the game away is the sheer number of press release-based articles that have appeared recently.
Confusion 'fuels alcohol misuse' and Boredom 'fuels teen alcohol use' (both BBC) are quite simply non-stories, created solely to keep the issue in the news.
Call for alcohol laws as liver disease soars (The Guardian) and Charity warns over child drinkers (BBC) regurgitate data that was released in May this year, except with a we-need-minimum-pricing makeover.
Heavy drinking culture blamed for surge in oral cancers (The Guardian) is a highly dubious story based on a Cancer Research press release (read the correction at the top to see just how carefully the ladies and gentlemen of the press bother to read these press releases before rewriting them). Dick Puddlecote gives a few reasons why the spin put on this news is suspect.
When so many spurious stories appear in such a short space of time, you know that a co-ordinated media campaign has been launched, in this case - one assumes - by Ian Gilmore's Alcohol Health Alliance.
So what is the pub industry doing getting into bed with this odious set of bastards?
Colin Wilkinson, secretary of the SLTA, says thousands of jobs could be lost across the industry in the coming years unless something is done to halt the decline."Cheap drink in supermarkets is killing the trade off," he says. "What we're pushing for is a minimum price on alcohol."
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is also on board because, they reckon, minimum pricing would "equalise the on/off trade differential."
To understand this strange marriage of convenience, you need to go back to the seeds of the smoking ban. You might recall that the pub industry originally opposed the smoking ban (along with CAMRA). But when the government proposed an exemption for private members' clubs, the industry abruptly changed its mind and supported the ban, so long as it was total and uncompromising. They didn't like the idea of 13 million smokers signing up as members of the local working men's club or snooker club. Not too principled, that, but realpolitik rarely is.
The rest is history. Pub closures rocketed from 2 a week to 39 a week. Latest figures suggest the rate of closures has now reached 52 a week. Only a fool - or a BBC hack - could fail to spot the connection.
So why didn't landlords take to the streets to protect their livelihoods as they did in Hong Kong and Holland, and as they have been doing in Turkey today? Open defiance of the law in Germany helped get the ban overturned there. (The French, of course, who have a history of surrendering to fascism, gave up without a fight. Plus ca change.)
The most likely explanation for the British pub trade's servility is that they didn't expect this pig-headed government to amend the smoking ban under any circumstances. They may have been correct. More pertinently, even if the government did back down, it would likely return to its original exemption for members' only clubs, which would shaft pubs even more vigorously than the current legislation has been doing.
Caught between a rock and a hard place, the pub industry thinks it might as well use its current problems as an excuse to attack its competitors in the off-trade, especially the supermarkets. Hence the unseemly and unlikely partnership with anti-alcohol fanatics like Ian fucking Gilmore. Realpolitik again.
This can only end in tears. The prohibitionist mentality is not a beast that can be tamed. Sooner or later it will go all Siegfried and Roy on you. The government wouldn't shed a tear if every pub in Britain closed down tomorrow. Ian Gilmore would probably cry with joy. These are not people to be helping out if you make your living selling drinks.
Not only that, the simple maths dictates that pubs have nothing to gain from this minimum price bullshit. The current plan is to set a minimum price of 40-50p per unit. Your average 4% pint of lager has 2.3 units in it and costs about £3 in a pub. Even with a minimum price of 50p, that pint is going to be sold in supermarkets for £1.15 or so - still much cheaper than a pint in a pub and, therefore, smokers will still stay at home.
There will be no financial incentive for anyone to go back to the pub unless the minimum price is far in excess of £1. To make the pub's £3 charge for a pint sound competitive - albeit artificially, and courtesy of an all-powerful state - the minimum unit price is going to have to be set at around £1.30. Is such a scenario possible? Perhaps. It is the insidious nature of groups like Alcohol Concern to demand that the 50p minimum rises to 60p, then 75p and so on. This alone is a damn good reason to oppose this law with every sinew of your body. Even so, £1.30 per unit is, as illiterate sports commentators say, 'a big ask' in any country that wishes to maintain the pretense of being a liberal democracy.
And do you know what? Even if they make the minimum price £2.50 per unit, I will still not be returning to the pub. Why? Because I am not standing in the fucking street to drink a pint of beer. That is still the bottom line. You can't force people to do something they don't want to do and making another stupid illiberal law will not paper over the cracks of the previous stupid illiberal law.
The SLTA and CAMRA are making a big mistake co-operating with latter-day temperance groups on this minimum pricing issue. They are not people who can be reasoned with because they are not reasonable people. They cannot be appeased. They cannot be compromised with. The government has no right - no right at all - to decide how much a drink should cost. That should be the only message the politicians hear on this issue. And for anyone in the pub industry to collaborate with these puritans in a selfish attempt to undo the damage that occurred last time they got tricked by them is nothing short of pathetic. Fuck the lot of them.