Tag Archives: The Guardian

More lying nonsense from the anti-alcohol wowsers

If I took £18 from your pocket but told you that you were now actually better off as a result of my relieving you of your money, because I was giving £34 to the local hospital, you would, I think, decide I was either an idiot or a not very good conman.

This, however, is the sleight of hand being attempted by the militant anti-drink campaigners at the deliberately blandly named Institute of Alcohol Studies in its nonsensical report, published today, insisting that raising alcohol taxes would not “disproportionally” affect the poor, because of the “potential additional funds generated for the NHS”.

The IAS wants higher taxes on alcohol because it believes (or claims to believe) this will help solve “problem” drinking, though in fact there is no evidence this is true. It admits that higher taxes on alcohol “may” hit the poor proportionally harder than the rich (for “may” read “will”’ of course). It has obviously struggled to justify this disproportionate impact, and has decided to pretend that while poorer households would lose £18 a year through higher alcohol taxes, they would gain because there would be £34 per poorer household for the NHS, the extra money made available from higher taxes and, presumably, what it hopes will be less demand on the NHS because of lower alcohol consumption.

It does not explain how it knows this extra money will be there to boost the health service – instead of, as is more likely under the current government, being used to cut corporation tax and/or income tax for higher earners. If it existed at all.

The facts are that the UK already pays some of the highest alcohol taxes in Europe, that alcohol consumption in this country has been falling for many years, that most countries in Europe drink more alcohol than we do, and that alcohol remains a net contributor to national happiness, something that the wowsers of the IAS cannot accept.

The Guardian, of course, printed the IAS press release without challenging either the assumptions or the conclusions, and without pointing out that the IAS is fundamentally a temperance organisation, directly descended from 19th century temperance campaigning groups.

Nor did it quote anybody putting forward a dissenting point of view or commenting on the extremely dodgy assumptions behind the IAS’s calculations, such as the utterly evidence-free idea that if you lower total alcohol consumption, “problematic” alcohol consumption will fall as well.

It would be good to hold a proper debate on alcohol consumption in this country, and put to death the many myths that hamper reporting on the subject. Unfortunately the IAS certainly isn’t interested, and neither, it appears, is the Guardian.

Malcolm Gluck: what a tosser

Malcolm Gluck is a well-known wind-up merchant who likes to pretend he’s the people’s wine critic, but his claim on The Guardian’s website here, in what appears to be a return to the paper after he fell out with it some time ago, that

Wine in Britain today is vivacious, fruity, inexpensive, healthy (in moderation) and fun. Beer, on the other hand, is drunk by losers and sadsacks.

is trollery at its ugliest and most repulsive. Still, in eight hours he managed to attract more than 60 commenters telling him what a wanker he was …

As I said in my own comment, “How very sad that this could be written in one of the greatest brewing nations in the world, even in jest. Malcolm, you’re badly dissing the thousands of dedicated people who work in Britain’s 550-plus new small breweries, and its surviving family brewers, producing world-beating beers. I can’t understand how any professional drinks writer could write something that appeared to show he knew nothing about what was happening at places such as Meantime in Greenwich, Thornbridge in Derbyshire or BrewDog in Scotland, to name only three.”