The Scottish Government yesterday introduced a minimum price for alcohol of fifty pence per unit, equivalent to a pound for a pint of ordinary strength beer. As we all know, the actual price of a pint is between two and four times that depending on where you are drinking.
The Scottish Government claims that minimum pricing will help tackle the country's alcoholism problem but I just can't see it working out like that. Poor people who have a drink problem will scrape together the extra cash somehow for cider and fortified wine and better off alcoholics won't even notice because the wine and spirits they drink are unlikely to be affected anyway.
You could of course argue that the UK Government is already using minimum pricing by placing a high level of tax and duty on alcohol. And if we can have minimum prices, why can't we have maximum prices too, say twice the mimimum. That would work out at two pounds a pint, about what it should be if you take off the tax and duty.
On tax and alcohol duty, the Goverment line seems to have changed. New Labour ministers claimed ridculously that raising it was the only way to stop binge drinking. Now, according to the Treasury, alcohol duty has to go up to help cut the deficit. So the message to patriotic Britons is clear: drink more beer!