Tuesday 14 February 2012

Why are we paying for this? (part 2)

A new website has appeared under the domain www.minimumpricing.info which pushes the case for a minimum unit price of alcohol and invites people to "sign up" to "make minimum pricing law".

The website provides information which is misleading at best. An interactive panel allows users to see how much alcohol will cost if the legislation is introduced. In the case of a cheap bottle of wine, for example...

Fair enough. The price will go up. That is the point. But is it really honest to state that the price of more expensive drinks will go down?

PRICE GOES DOWN? It won't, will it? If anything, minimum pricing will encourage premium brands to charge more. If a half decent £4.15 bottle of wine costs the same as much as a horrible bottle of £2.49 plonk, the former can surely get away with charging £5.

This is routine deviousness on the part of the temperance lobby, but it is not the reason for this post. What is really of interest here is where this website came from and who paid for it. It has no contact details and no branding. Although one might suspect the hand of the NHS, Alcohol Concern or the Department of Health at work, none of their logos appear.

Perhaps it is the work of some concerned citizen? Unlikely. Although small, the website is too elaborate to be the work on a lone temperance nut. The domain name was registered by a swanky marketing agency based in the North West and it seems to be linked to the chap below, who is an 'Alcohol Strategic Lead', also based in the North West (come friendly cuts and fall on thee).

If you take the advice of the website and "Sign up here to make minimum pricing law", you will hit an external link and be taken to the website of DrinkWise NorthWest where you will be given the opportunity to 'Join the Movement'. DrinkWise NorthWest is entirely funded by the NHS and local authorities.

It is, I think, fair to say that www.minimumpricing.info has been paid for with taxpayers money to lobby for a change in the law. DrinkWise NorthWest is an arm of the government. Why is it spending money lobbying the government? Why, indeed, is the government—which has supposedly not made its mind up about minimum pricing—allowing taxpayers' money to be spent on an astro-turfing project designed to get people to sign up to a "movement".

Regular readers will be familiar with fake charities and state-funded NGOs masquerading as 'civil society'. It might take a little homework to find out that ASH, Alcohol Concern, Friends of the Earth, Brake, Sustain et al. are largely dependent on statutory funding for their existence, but it can be done. This website is not unusual in using government money to lobby for policy, but it is unusual in that it is doing so anonymously and without disclosing the source of the campaign.

If this is not against the rules then the rules are worthless.


Curmudgeon said...

Ooh, that is extremely dishonest and misleading. Not that the average drinker of canned draught Guinness will ever come across the site, of course.

Does that mean I will now get 18 year old Laphroaig for £14 a bottle?

Jonathan Bagley said...

The price won't go down. Complain to the ASA. I've done it several times. It's very quick and easy and it gets results. I got the EU smoking causes greasy hair ad stopped.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Have linked to both parts of this, Chris.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Seen this retweeted on his timeline too?

Looks like I was right in saying there's a booze MSA on the horizon.

Denormalisation of alcohol in full swing, and following the tobacco control template to the letter.

Anonymous said...

Yepper denormilization all the way. Makes me wonder why these idiots didnt believe us when we told them the laws being made against tobacco are but a design to follow in the legal aspect to destroy other businesses in the long run. Tobacco was the virgin sacrifice to get everybody else!

Lets watch them all squirm now!

Anonymous said...

This smells of the NHS or fake charities at work. Incidentally, I see bugger all has been done to kill off these fake charities by starving them of taxpayers funds. Bastards.

Fredrik Eich said...

Well, at least that minimumpricing.info site uses a white font on a black background.

That should put off a fair number of people reading it in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Go and do their poll (make sure you vote correctly)


Ivan D said...

It appears that Steve Morton has form. Prior positions include:

Commissioner Representative Member at Alcohol Concern HubCAP Steering Group

He was educated at University of the West of England and John Moores University in Liverpool.

The latter institution is of course the origin of the alcohol hospital admissions confidence trick whereby a percentage of every possible accident and case of hypertension is added to the alcohol statistics in order to give something for the zealots to shout about when all the other stats are moving in the opposite direction. The adjacent university is also a home from home for Ian Gilmore.

Steve claims that he is a:

“Member of several regional and national advisory and steering groups for department of health and partners.”

He probably means well but has been led astray by bad company.

Those who like to play spot the noticeably large person enforcing his vision (or whatever vision that he can get paid to promote) of “healthy” behaviour on others are also recommended to look out for Andrew Langford of the BLT.

dearieme said...

A breeze of rationality:


dearieme said...

That one was for cancer: this one is for hearts.

Anonymous said...

Dearime is a very subtle TROLL, but a troll nevertheless.

Jonathan Bagley said...

What do you mean Junican? The first link is to a critique of a well known paper which was similarly demolished on R4's More or Less.

Neil G said...

DrinkWiseNorthWest is a part of the larger OurLife fake charity, again in the North West.

I FOId Our Life to find out the source of their funding. They refused to answer, saying they were classed as an 'industrial and provident society'.

Such 'charities' are, indeed, exempt as they are classed to be private organisations.

I then FOId all the various NHS bodies and a number of local councils and found that they fund OurLife/DrinkAwareNorthWest.

Further, they admitted to establishing it.

So, the govt can set up conduits to invisibly channel public money through.

I told the OurLife Chief Exec that I would complain to Andrew Lansley. Her reply was: go ahead, Lansley already knows of this arrangement.

Interestingly, Widnes Council is involved in Our Life and they, of course, are subject to the Local Government Publicity Code. Check out the code.

This is purest contempt for all acceptable standards.

Jonathan Bagley said...

It's an strange advert which draws attention to a price increase from £2.49 to £4.15.