For, in their latest Coalition Programme for Government [PDF], the ConDems have decided that one of their very first acts will be yet more controls on alcohol.
- We will ban the sale of alcohol below cost price.
- We will review alcohol taxation and pricing to ensure it tackles binge drinking without unfairly penalising responsible drinkers, pubs and important local industries.
- We will overhaul the Licensing Act to give local authorities and the police much stronger powers to remove licences from, or refuse to grant licences to, any premises that are causing problems.
- We will allow councils and the police to shut down permanently any shop or bar found to be persistently selling alcohol to children.
- We will double the maximum fine for under-age alcohol sales to £20,000.
- We will permit local councils to charge more for late-night licences to pay for additional policing.
Commenting on the BBC article, The Nameless Libertarian explains why the minimum pricing for alcohol is such a bad idea.
Just for old time's sake, let's rehearse the reasons why this policy is both wrong and pointless. It won't stop binge drinking—that will continue, but people will just have to spend a little more on getting arseholed. It is an impingement on the freedom of business during a feeble recovery from a deep recession. Laws already exist that allow for the refusal to sell/serve alcohol to those who are drunk, and laws already exist that can deal with the anti-social behavior of those who are wasted. We should enforce those laws, rather than creating a new, illiberal rule to punish everyone in society who might want to buy alcohol at a cheap price. I don't think there is anything liberal, democratic or even particularly conservative about this policy—other than the fact that the Con-Dem coalition has jumped on it with unseemly haste.
This is, of course, one of the main points that I made when Boris banned drinking on the Tube—and the vast majority of commenters leapt upon me, supporting the ban. I maintained that the ban would punish responsible drinkers, and that we already had laws against being drunk and disorderly, etc.
"No, no," maintained the commenters. "Bans are fine when it's banning something I don't like or don't do." Now, how do you like them apples, guys?
What is the point of the Coalition introducing a Great Repeal Bill—designed to abolish thousands (ha! I bet it will be about ten) of "unnecessary" laws introduced by NuLabour—if they are simply going to replace those laws with other, even worse laws?
And if the Coalition can't work out by themselves why a minimum price on alcohol is a bad idea, this should give them a massive bloody clue.
Supermarket chain Tesco says it wants to see curbs on the sale of cheap alcohol during this Parliament.
Tesco has welcomed a promise by the coalition government to ban below-cost sales of alcohol in England and Wales.
The UK's biggest retailer goes further, saying it would back the more radical step of introducing a minimum price.
Here's the thing, Dave and Nick: Tesco doesn't need laws to introduce a minimum price on the alcohol that it sells—it could simply stop selling alcohol below cost price. If this massive corporatist organisation supports a minimum price on alcohol, then a minimum price on alcohol is definitely something that you should not introduce. Understand?
If Tesco wants a minimum price on alcohol, it is because the law is either going to give them an advantage over their competition or it is going to allow them to gouge the public for more money—or, of course, both. And propping up the proficts of Tesco is not—repeat, not—in any government's remit.
Never mind, I'm sure that Dave, Nick and their merry Coalition will carry on regardless.
Say "hello" to the new boss: same as the old boss.