Wednesday 7 September 2011

One born every minute

Surely the pub industry won't fall for this?

Alcohol Concern praises pubs

The chief executive of Alcohol Concern Don Shenker has praised pubs for improving community life.

Writing a column in the Society of Independent Brewers’ membership magazine Shenker expressed support for “responsible drinking” and deplores the current drinking culture that “values drinking at home over going to the pub.”

Don Shenker, leader of the country's foremost temperance group—sorry, 'alcohol control' group—wants you to believe that he supports the British pub. The bait on the fish hook is minimum pricing, which some pubs think will draw in the drinkers that the smoking ban forced out. They're wrong, and having been duped by one fake charity (ASH), they're getting ready to be tricked by another (Alcohol Con).

Alcohol Concern are trying to pitch themselves as being against drinking at home, rather than drinking per se. But let's remember that the temperance lobby has traditionally attacked the pub with fury (as you would expect) and have, if anything, been more tolerant of drinking at home. There's a reason why the Anti-Saloon League was not called the Anti-Beer League and it's the same reason anti-alcohol campaigners have always tried to limit opening times and reduce the number of pubs that can open. Pubs have always been their enemy and always will be. Every place that sells alcohol will be in the cross-hairs.

Can the pub companies really be so dumb as to be tricked by Shenker's nauseatingly insincere eulogy? This is a pressure group that wants to reduce licensing hours, lower the drink-drive limit and, only three days ago, was applauding moves to force pubs to pay still more taxes.

The late-night levy is part of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill. Licensing authorities will be able to charge from £300 to nearly £4,440 depending on the premises.

...While the charity Alcohol Concern welcomes the extra charge on venues, it says it will do nothing to prevent the heavy drinking.

"The levy on the drinks industry won't actually address the root cause," said chief executive Don Shenker.

"It won't stop people necessarily from drinking too much alcohol. The way to deter people from drinking too much alcohol is to raise the price of alcohol."

Leg-Iron called this one right...

While the charity Alcohol Concern welcomes the extra charge on venues, it says it will do nothing to prevent the heavy drinking.

If it will achieve nothing, why do you welcome it, Darth? Does it make you excited to see the proles suffer for no reason at all? It does, doesn't it?

"The levy on the drinks industry won't actually address the root cause," said chief executive Don Shenker.

Then why do it? Here is the Chief Puritan himself admitting that this measure will no nothing more than put an awful lot of people out of work. Yet he welcomes that. This man is paid from your taxes, you have no means to get rid of him and he controls the Tory, Lib Dem and Labour policies on alcohol. Remember that at the next election.

The last few years have seen the pub industry lurch from one disaster to another. Five years ago they were tricked by ASH into believing the smoking ban would lead to a great Renaissance of the British boozer. Earlier this year, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association got into bed with the temperance lobby to support a minimum price for alcohol (which is now on its way). The drinks company Diageo was haplessly funding Alcohol Focus until it finally noticed that the temperance lobby is not their friend. CAMRA... well, don't even get me started on CAMRA.

And now we have Dong Shaker sneaking into the picture with a bunch of flowers in one hand and a dagger in the other. How stupid does he think they are?

Pretty stupid, actually. And he might be right...

The Society of Independent Brewers has sought to build a relationship with Alcohol Concern, having earlier this year become a corporate member of the organisation.

“Our dialogue with Alcohol Concern has revealed common ground — in particular the role played by the pub in promoting responsible drinking – which we should be using as a foundation for a joint strategy,” said Grocock.

Good grief. Better bring a long spoon to sup with. The title of the Pub Curmudgeon's post about this says it all: Granny, what big eyes you’ve got.

Alcohol Concern have found "common ground" alright, but it's not with the pub trade. Maybe the Society of Independent Brewers should pop along to their next conference...


Curmudgeon said...

It must be said SIBA becoming a corporate member of Alcohol Concern absolutely beggars belief...

Anonymous said...

The Society of Independent Brewers will grow larger when the Jocks start brewing and distilling their own !!

What then a ban on sugar and water? Or will there be a minimum pricing on yeast?

Mr A said...


Thinking about it, maybe SIBA sponsoring Alcohol Concern isn't so bizarre. Maybe they're thinking that they can, over time, have some influence over them. After all, all fake charities care about is cash - if they can foster a relationship where Alcohol Concern becomes dependant on them, then maybe they can defuse their more lunatic policies.

More importantly, they MUST be aware that Alcohol Concern are using the Tobacco Control template. As such, the "next logical step" is for them to try and get the Alcohol industry excluded from meetings with Government (as they have already tried to do). By sponsoring them, SIBA are staying in the loop. Imagine if BAT or Phillip Morris had sponsored ASH in the 80s.... it seems like madness but they probably wouldn't be as excluded as they are now.

And what's the alternative? Ignore them? Big Tobacco tried that and look where that got them. Oppose them? Maybe - but it''s probably too late to do that. Alcohol Concern are nowhere near as powerful or as deranged as ASH, but they're getting there, and all it would take is some denormalisation, some junk studies, some more footage of pissed-bints puking in the gutter, some more proclamations from various medical organisations and blam! They're where Big Tobacco is again.

Maybe this is actually a canny move...

Curmudgeon said...

Mr A,

I think you are crediting them with intelligence and foresight they do not possess. My feeling is that they genuinely do buy into all this guff about "pubs providing a controlled drinking environment" and "beer, consumed responsibly, can be part of a healthy lifestyle" and so are naively playing along with the neo-Pros' game of divide and rule.

Anonymous said...

From Dave Atherton

Here was my comment in the Publican's Morning Advertiser.

I think it was Sir Humphrey in Yes Prime Minister who said "first you have to stand behind someone, before you can stab them in the back."

Next month Don and his chums will be at the "Tobacco and alcohol conference: Learning from each other Alcohol Concern Cymru is delighted to announce we will be holding a conference in partnership with ASH Wales on 12 and 13 October 2011, looking at the related issues of alcohol and tobacco use."

The conference is sponsored by Pfizer and Novartis and features lots of taxpayer funded neo prohibitionists. One of the attendees is Professor Linda Bauld who asserts that

"the smoking ban didn't hurt pubs."

The sad fact is that Alcohol Concern and ASH have the ears of ministers who revel in the 'something must be done' model. While us smokers and drinkers opinion's are bolt on extras to the debate to produce a very thin veneer of democracy.

Minimum pricing of alcohol will be no panacea as people will return to the continental Booze Cruises, Tesco and Oddbins both closed down their Calais shops 2-3 years ago, home brewed beer costs 30p a pint and like 24% of the tobacco trade smuggling may become widespread. In Sweden and Norway alcohol is only available via state owned shops and the price is artificially raised. Public drunkenness is rife, 'home brew' spirit production extensive and dangerous, upwards of 100 Swedes die every year from poisoning.

Frankly it seems the fox has been allowed into the chicken coop.

Ivan D said...

This looks like part of a co-ordinated attempt by the public health extremists to distance themselves from pub closures by focussing on the off trade. I noticed that the BBC news report on SNP minimum pricing policy last night specifically mentioned minimum pricing for off licences so the oily weasel Salmond is on board.

This new tack was evidenced by this week’s Alcohol Concern report linking off-licence densities to alcohol admissions for under 18s. This report is worth a read because it is one of the worst pieces of “science” ever paid for by the British public. It is so appalling that even Ben “Bad Science (so long as it is not from Public Health)” Goldacre has tweeted about it. Ben’s main issue seems to be this sentence:

“The analysis showed that nearly 10% of all alcohol specific hospital admissions in England, excluding London, are directly attributable to off-licence density”

Based on a dodgy analysis that excludes London on the grounds that kids don’t drink enough there despite a very high density of off licences, our Don claims causation. Even the cherry picked data in the report suggests otherwise. Those with a scientific bent might try plotting a dose response or look at the ratio between hospital admissions and off licence density.

What I find most depressing about this latest political pamphlet is the Comic Relief logo on the front page. I would expect Comic Relief to be working with problem kids at a human level, not supporting a pointless and socially destructive political war on “big alcohol” that reduces them to abstract statistical constructs.

It looks like it is not only the brewers who have been fooled.

Frank said...

"the ratio between hospital admissions and off licence density."

Nothing to do with population density by any chance? No, didn't think so.

They get worse but with the babbling clowns we've got in Parliament, these days, I don't suppose we should be surprised. Tell 'em a study shows the moons made of green cheese and, no doubt, they'd believe it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave Atherton,
You are always well informed and research your information thoroughly. Here in Norway the price of alcohol is increased by the level of taxation, in exactly the same way it is increased by taxation in the UK. I personally think that is pretty artificial, but Norway simply uses the same tactics as everyone else and fills government coffers whilst experiencing a glow of thoroughly artificial self righteousness. I pay about £8 for a decent to good bottle of red wine (it is not possible to buy bad wine in the vinmonopol, their buyers are a savvy bunch). On the other hand I earn the equivalent of £60K a year and the worst paid Norwegians probably earn £35-40K. In terms of percentage of disposable income a bottle of wine or spirits in Norway is probably no more expensive than it is in the UK, in those terms it may even be cheaper. I don't know about incomes in Sweden, but booze is cheaper there than it is here in Norway.


Curmudgeon said...

The cheapest "decent" bottle of wine in the UK is probably £5-£6, although often available on offers cheaper than that.

Is there not a lot of home-brewing and illegal distilling in Norway?