Monday, 14 March 2016

Peer of the realm celebrates Scottish pub "catastrophe"

On Friday, there was a debate in the House of Lords about lowering the drunk driving limit in England to the same level as Scotland's. It included this telling remark from a Labour peer, Lord Rea...

The noble Lord mentioned a similar measure that was introduced in Scotland about a year ago, the results of which the Government are observing. The Scottish licensed catering association has said that the introduction of that measure has been “catastrophic” for the industry. In other words, drinking as a whole has gone down—no one has mentioned that effect of the measure—quite apart from any effect on accidents on the roads. When the prohibition on smoking in public places came in, it reduced the prevalence of heart disease. Heart attacks, for instance, came down measurably as a result of that step. Therefore, small measures such as the one we are discussing will gradually reduce the consumption of alcohol, which, when used excessively, is very harmful, as we all know.

There is no evidence that lowering the limit has reduced the number of road deaths in Scotland, but it has certainly been catastrophic for the country's pubs. You might expect this to be a concern for a politician, but apparently it is an added bonus.

Notice the amount of bollocks Lord Rea speaks in this one little paragraph. For example, it cannot be inferred from the collapse of Scotland's pub trade that 'drinking as a whole has gone down'. People might simply be drinking at home instead (excessively).

Moreover, regular readers will know that the smoking ban had absolutely no effect on heart attack incidence, let alone on the prevalence of heart disease.

Finally, he implies that reducing alcohol consumption by small amounts will reduce the damage done by excessive drinking. This is the Whole Population Approach to which the Scottish government is wedded, but it is nothing more than evidence-free temperance dogma. The idea that stopping people from having a pint in a rural pub before driving home will prevent excessive drinking is self-evidently absurd. It is actually a very good illustration of why the Whole Population Approach is misguided.

But logic be damned. Every neo-temperance policy is about reducing alcohol consumption by any means possible and if that causes a "catastrophe" for the nation's pub and hospitality sector, then so much the better.

Lovely people, eh?

PS. While the government tries to tackle drunk driving by targeting people who are perfectly sober, the free market has found a solution:

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