Monday, March 26, 2012

A open letter to David Cameron

I have just sent the following email to the office of the Buttered New Potato...

I have attempted to send said email: alas, the only way to contact the Buttered New Potato electronically is to use the Number 10 submission form—which limits you to 1000 characters. So, do I break it up into several emails, just send him the link or shall I print it out and post it in the old-fashioned way?

Or, since all the Tory grandees seem to be reading him at present, perhaps Guido would be kind enough to ask on your humble Devil's behalf...?

Answers on a postcard or, preferably, in the comments below.

Anyway, on with the fun...
Dear Mr Cameron,

I am writing to ask you—as politely as I can—what you think you are playing at as regards the minimum pricing of alcohol?

Since you are Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, I assume that you have a great many researchers and advisors (who will, no doubt, be the only ones who read this); as such, I am forced to assume that you also know that:
  1. the amount of alcohol consumption has been steadily dropping over the last ten years;

  2. the proportion of people drinking more than their recommended weekly units is also on a solid downward trajectory;

  3. this is true even amongst "the young";

  4. the nation's alcohol consumption has dropped by about 20% in 5 years;

  5. these figures come from your Office for National Statistics' General Lifestyle Survey—helpfully summarised by Chris Snowdon.

Further, you will also know that:
  1. about 4 years ago, Richard Smith—a member of the Royal College of Physicians group that produced the report on which the recommended weekly units are based—told The Times that "... it’s impossible to say what’s safe and what isn’t... we don’t really have any data whatsoever... Those limits were really plucked out of the air. They were not based on any firm evidence at all. It was a sort of intelligent guess by a committee" (no longer generally available online but also reported by The Register);

  2. the ONS changed assumed that people were drinking bigger glasses of stronger alcohol in 2007, thus producing a strong upward trend where none actually existed (as measured in volume of pure alcohol)—Myth 1, here;

  3. although you were recently quoted as saying "When beer is cheaper than water, it’s just too easy for people to get drunk on cheap alcohol at home...", this is, in fact, not true. Alcohol is not cheaper than water, even bottled water—Myth 5, here;

  4. alcohol is roughly 20% more expensive, in real terms, than in 1980 (the year often quoted as a yardstick)—Myth 2, here;

  5. that alcohol, smoking and obesity actually cost health systems less money than "healthy people" due to their tendency to die younger.

Finally, for the moment, I will also assume that you know that the EU has already said that minimum price fixing is illegal under Free Trade rules—for both alcohol and cigarettes, e.g. media reports here (Ireland's attempt to set a minimum price for tobacco), here (Scotland's minimum alcohol price), here (an EC Council Directive on tobacco which lays out the judgement on minimum pricing of anything), and references to two other cases here.

Let us leave aside whether the minimum pricing of alcohol is a suitable policy initiative for a man who said, in 2008, "The era of big, bossy, state interference, top-down lever pulling is coming to an end". Yes, we'll leave that—no one actually expected you to keep such a promise, nor any others about restoration of our freedoms.

No—what I am asking is why you would adopt such an illegal, regressive and illiberal policy when you yourself must know that the problem that minimum pricing is supposed to solve simply doesn't exist?

And given that you must know all of the above, why you continue to tell lies to the public?



I look forward to publishing the Prime Minister's response.


john in cheshire said...

DK, I look forward to reading such response.

The Illusive Man said...

I also look forward to "Call Me Dave's" response - as do, I suspect, a good many other people.

Xopher said...

If you're lucky you may have it passed to a DoH robot and you'll be told Government takes public health seriously so all actions are justified blah, blah, blah.
There will be no comment regarding the sanity of our 'leader'.

Anonymous said...

From Dave Atherton

Hi DK help is at hand on Dr. Richard Smith He has a blog on the BMJ and has confirmed it as recently as November 2011.

"I was a member of the Royal College of Physician’s working party that in the early 80s proposed safe limits for the United Kingdom of 21 units a week for men and 14 for women with one unit being 8 grams of alcohol. We advised that a unit was half a pint of beer or a standard glass of wine. I achieved some notoriety about five years ago for telling a journalist that these limits were “plucked out of the air.” Now whenever there is a debate about the validity of the safe limits—as there often is—I’m rung by journalists for a quote. My clumsy statement has not made me popular with the Royal College of Physicians."

Mr Ecks said...

Send a copy to his constituancy HQ and to his main local newspaper.Might just have a chance to get in the Nationals. Also send a copy to James Delingpole --he seems to be on a bit of a roll lately.

PS-O/T but have you seen this?

Lola said...

Re your last two querying paragraphs.

Because he's a c**t?

NielsR said...

Regarding cramming the letter into the form, how many characters would remain if you took out all the links? Then you might be able to fit in one (shortened, if necessary) to this post...

Dr Evil said...

He tells lies because a)he can and b) because voters rarely check the facts. He also lies about public consultation as he has admitted that nothing the unwashed say will make an iota of difference. The same for homosexual marriage. I am never, ever going to vote Conservative, coalition or labour (I don't of course) ever again. They are all the same nanying, corrupt, scumbag, deaf, thieving, arrogant barstewards.

Sackerson said...

I've been calling him Balloon Head from the start, but your "BNP" will do.

Isn't it clear that the government has no intention of significantly reducing use of tobacco and alcohol, bearing in mind the tax revenues they generate?

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