by Dick Puddlecote
Cameron’s Minimum Alcohol Pricing Car Crash So the rumours were true, today was the day the government announced it was going all-in on minimum alcohol pricing.
It has been reported that this is despite stiff opposition from many areas in Westminster, including the cabinet itself. In fact, it would appear that this policy is being forced on us simply because David Cameron is obsessed with it.
He really seems to have changed his tune, hasn’t he?
“The era of big, bossy, state interference, top-down lever pulling is coming to an end.” David Cameron, June 2008.
“No more of a government treating everyone like children who are incapable of taking their own decisions. Instead, let’s treat adults like adults and give them more responsibility over their lives.” David Cameron, February 2011.
In between buttoning up our November payroll and sorting out an issue with our bank, I’ve been watching the resultant explosion of disbelief and anger on Twitter from left, right and centre of the political spectrum.
Much of what I might have written on the subject, had I not been busy, has already been covered elsewhere, which you may have seen with links I have tweeted or retweeted today. Take your pick from the examples below.
Now, Mr P Snr – an old-school lifelong Conservative voter – is completely against the idea too, but has an interesting theory which he appears to be using to reconcile his idea of a Conservative politician with the batshit crazy behaviour of the Prime Minister.
He is of the opinion that Cameron is such a master of manipulation; such a political genius, that this is all a ruse. He’s playing a game to appease the health lobby, in full and certain knowledge that parliament will reject it and he can be seen to have acted in a correct manner.
Yes, it’s wishful thinking but how do you expect a real Conservative to react when the leader of a party he has always kept faith with comes out with a policy that Old Labour would have recoiled in horror at?
OK, so let’s pretend for a minute that this was Cameron’s plan all along. How is it faring?
Well, by taking control of the lower end of the drinks industry’s pricing mechanism, he is – in effect – admitting that he doesn’t believe in the free market. Never again can he advocate free market policies with a straight face, since all his opponents now need do is to point at minimum pricing and laugh maniacally at Cameron.
Additionally, he seems to have completely forgotten about those who accuse him and Osborne of being ‘Tory toffs’ who are out-of-touch with the public, and only in politics to bash the poor and promote the interests of the rich. Considering that minimum alcohol pricing is specifically designed to attack the poor, again he has played right into the hands of his detractors.
So, even before today, politically it was a car crash policy just waiting for Cameron to hurtle off in pole position.
However, if anyone were still to believe that he is still some kind of superhuman political guru with a long-term plan none of us mere mortals are able to envisage, the timing could not have been more spectacularly inept. You see, this was also announced today. And a political genius would have probably seen it coming.
Minimum alcohol pricing ruled ‘incompatible’ with EU regulations
Minimum pricing on alcohol is incompatible with European Union (EU) regulations and should not be introduced, according to the EU`s ruling body.
The European Commission (EC) said minimum pricing could restrict imports of foreign alcohol, putting international producers at a competitive disadvantage in Scotland.
While the EC recognises that Scotland has one of the fastest-growing rates of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the world, it said minimum pricing is a “disproportionate” response.
“The case-law of the EU Court of Justice is unequivocal to the effect that national legislation imposing minimum pricing in respect of particular products falls within the ambit of the Article 34 of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU (prohibition on measures having the equivalent effect of impeding imports of products),” according to EC general secretary Catherine Day.
“All trading rules enacted by member states, which are capable of hindering directly or indirectly, actually or potentially, intra-EU trade are to be considered as measures having an effect equivalent to quantitative restrictions.”
Yes. Just as predicted, it’s illegal under EU law, a previously well-known fact that has now been double-underlined in bright red ink.
So Cameron has thrown away any credibility he thinks he had for favouring personal responsibility over the nanny state; has broadcast to the nation that Tories don’t believe in free markets; has fully confirmed suspicions that he is a ‘Tory toff’ who cares little for the less well off; and has presumably shown that – while he will slavishly follow every EU diktat which harms his own countrymen – he will fight the EU to the bitter end in order to make every man jack of us pay more for our meagre pleasures.
Political visionary? I think not.
I note that he tasked Theresa May with announcing it … she may as well have done so wearing baggy trousers, clown shoes and a big red nose.