Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Cheaper than popcorn

Back in May, I mentioned that the anti-alcohol campaign group Balance North East—a classic sock puppet, founded and funded entirely by the government—had been granted £1.4 million by local authorities to continue its fraudulent astro-turfing.

Balance North East's main activity is campaigning for minimum pricing, but it also does other things such as spending taxpayers money on drinking binges in cinemas.

Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, carried out a number of test purchases in cinemas across the region and found that in some chains, people were able to buy six pints at a time and take them into an early afternoon screening of Despicable Me 2 (U) – and they were also advised that they could purchase more during the film.

On another occasion, test purchasers were able to buy five pints of lager (5.1%) and take the drinks into a mid-afternoon screening of Monsters University (U). This equates to 14.5 units, which is more than the recommended weekly limit of 14 units for a woman.

It would be more than the guidelines for a woman if one woman drunk all five pints, but—as the plural in "test purchasers" indicates—there were at least two people buying these drinks and we have no idea about their gender. Suspiciously, Balance doesn't disclose how many of their state-funded muppets were sent along to this film. I suspect at least five or six.


Research into cinemas across all 12 local authorities also showed that the majority of cinemas visited have bars...

Good.

– and in some chains, alcohol is clearly displayed and can be purchased at the popcorn counter next to sweets, soft drinks and other refreshments.

So what? Is it illegal for cinemas to sell alcohol? No. Are they selling it to children? No. Is it illegal for alcohol to be "clearly displayed"? No. Is it illegal to drink in a cinema? No. So what in the name of Beelzebub's bathtub has this got to do with the government and its parasitic front groups?

Cinemas across the North East are allowing people to drink more than the equivalent of their weekly recommended unit...

That is also not a crime and nor should it be, not least because—as is well known—those "recommended" limits were plucked out of thin air.


...while watching the screening of family films...

Family films are dreadful. You need a stiff drink to watch one, especially if surrounded by the flotsam and jetsam of British youth during the summer holidays. Are Balance suggesting that alcohol should not be served unless the film has an 18 certificate? That certainly seems to be the implication.

...and selling alcohol for less than the price of popcorn

Since when did cinema popcorn, of all things, become the benchmark of good value? Give me strength.

If I was a taxpayer in the North East—as I used to be—I would share the view of this chap, who wrote to the Northern Echo about this mob three months ago.

I was interested to read that 12 hard-up North-East councils, presumably including Darlington, have found nearly £1.4 m each year for two years to fund Fresh and Balance, two public health campaign groups (Echo, May 8).

This works out at approximately £116,000 per authority per year. Yet these groups have only one office and eight employees. The mind boggles at what eight people are going to spend such a huge sum on [now we know—CJS].

I don’t remember it being part of any council’s remit to give ratepayers’ money to lobby groups, however well intentioned. As a Darlington ratepayer, perhaps our council could explain the rationale behind its decision, when it was voted for and where it suddenly found the money. Should pressure groups, however laudable, have their aims be funded by local ratepayers? Nice work if you can get it...

Quite.



10 comments:

Curmudgeon said...

I once on my 30th birthday bought a round of 15 pints, which was over twice my weekly allowance. How could any responsible pub allow this?

Curmudgeon said...

Plus, even by the standards of the anti-drink lobby, this is such an unlikely and contrived scenario that doesn't correspond to any actual form of problem drinking known to man.

JohnB said...

I propose a sock puppet (Popcorn Justice) dedicated to lobbying for getting the price of popcorn at cinemas lowered – hopefully to below the price of alcohol: Maximum Popcorn Pricing. Yikes! What’s happening here? The price of popcorn is higher than alcohol. We can’t have that!

When do I get the first cheque?

This Balance North East sound as though they’re going on regular social cinema outings – with alcohol thrown in – made to appear as work-related “research”, paid for by the taxpayer. I mean they could have just asked what could be purchased without making an actual purchase of alcohol. Once purchased, it would be criminal to let the booze go to waste. Nice scam!

Bucko The Moose said...

My response was very similar to yours.

Simon Williams said...

Aren't balance North East and Fresh run by the same man, Colin Sheavils? Or did he start Fresh then move on to Balance North East?

nisakiman said...

And so we descend into the realms of parody...

Christopher Snowdon said...

Simon,

Quite possibly. They certainly share the same office.

Ivan D said...

Colin Shevills is indeed the man at Balance. Like many PR and marketing people, he has recognized the opportunity presented by the public health gravy train and is now an "expert" in social marketing. That is why Balance's output along with that of many "health" charities is transparently manipulative PR with little basis in fact. Unfortunately, the people of the North East are forced to pay for this tripe.

James Burr said...

I've had enough of this never-ending battle against stupidity and fascism. If you can't beat them, join them.

So how exactly does one go about setting up a fake charity? Who do you apply to? I fancy getting paid lots of money to campaign against something that lets me drink, smoke and wank all day. I know! I'll campaign against porn, then I can claim my £150,000 salary by coming out with junk studies that start, "Researchers have found that porn addicts can become tired and calloused after watching 100,000 hours of hardcore porn....."

Sweet....

nisakiman said...

@James Burr

You forgot the most important bit.

"Researchers have found that porn addicts can become tired and calloused after watching 100,000 hours of hardcore porn....."

"...but more research (funding) is needed..."