Wednesday 23 May 2012

Stop press: British women drink hardly anything

From the Telegraph over the weekend...

Professional women 'drink twice as much' 

Women in highflying careers, such as managers in large companies, drink a bottle of wine a week on average, around 11.2 units, compared with 6.2 units for female hairdressers, cleaners and factory workers.

Well, yes. They earn more money and can therefore more easily afford Britain's exorbitantly taxed, extortionately priced selection of drinks.

Diane Abbott, Shadow Public Health Minister, says new alcohol figures lift the lid on some of the problems around the ‘cocktail and business card culture’:

She said: "It is good that more women are out in the workforce and are enjoying social life in pubs and bars."

She doesn't mean that at all, of course. Here comes the 'but'.

"But these disturbingly high figures reveal women’s drinking patterns have changed in a generation, reflecting a silent, middle class epidemic. The problem is not just young 'ladettes'."

"This government needs to bring in a radical new, long-term alcohol strategy including – but not limited to – a minimum price for alcohol.’

How depressing it is to be reminded that no matter how draconian the Conservative-led coalition is on this issue, there is always the spectre of a Labour-run Department of Health, led by this grossly overweight, self-confessed hypocrite, to make things still worse (although, to give him his due, even Gordon Brown rejected minimum pricing).

What exactly are these "disturbingly high figures"?

Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that in 2010 women in professional and managerial positions consumed an average of 9.2 units a week compared with 6.2 units a week for women in routine and manual jobs.

9.2 units a week! It is, as the story says, the equivalent of one bottle of wine. Why, that's nearly one very small glass of wine per day. It's like the last days of Rome, isn't it?

We seem to have reached the point at which any statistic related to alcohol can be used to call for "radical new" legislation even when, as routinely occurs, the statistic shows that Britons are drinking much less than the media narrative requires. 9.2 units is significantly less than the ridiculously low guideline of 14 units per week for women. Even if we factor in the 15 per cent of women who are teetotal, the amount consumed by drinkers remains minimal, so what is the problem here? Is it merely that wealthy women drink a bit more than poor women? Surely not. Are we to imagine that the temperance crusaders would be happier if the poor drank more than the rich? This is no more evidence of an epidemic than the equally anodyne fact that middle-aged people drink more often than teenagers. This is good news, isn't it?

For the anti-drink lobby, as for useless politicians like Diane Abbott, there can be no good news. For them, the problem is not with how much we are drinking—alcohol consumption has been falling sharply for a decade—but that we drink at all. These figures show us nothing except that women, on average, are drinking a frankly medicinal amount of alcohol, and yet the decision has been made that the government must clamp down on drinking, just as it clamped down on smoking. The fact that the statistics do not support the mythology of Booze Britain is not seen as an inconvenience. The data are either ignored (as the drop in consumption has been ignored), or incorporated into the narrative of panic in a tenuous way (as here).

Regardless of the evidence, the public health lobby made its mind up several years ago that drinking was next in the firing line. There is nothing we can do to stop it.


Ivan D said...

Diane Abbott is an obscene combination of ambition, intellectual incapacity and overbearing self righteous authoritarianism. She typifies much of what is wrong with the political elite form both sides of the house. The UK would be better off if the whole repulsive, finger wagging, controlling bunch of intellectually challenged imbeciles moved to their own island where they could control each other’s lives. The list should include but not be limited to islands less likely to be fit for comfortable human habitation.

Anonymous said...

As good citizens we should all be concerned about her dietary habits -the harm she is doing to herself and (passively) to her family. Not to mention the future avoidable drain on NHS resources (or perhaps not, she probably goes private).

Ivan D said...

Thanks Anon. I forgot hypocritical in my rant. There is little point these days in either voting or obeying the law as the former is effectively no choice between feeble minded autocrats and the latter is decreed by minority pressure groups of which the feeble minded autocrats are terrified. It is a shame that one of the more prominent members of the shadow front bench is an intellectually challenged hypocrite but hardly a surprise.

We live in an increasingly depressing society in which we are taught to be terrified of everything. There is no joy in our lives but our PM talks about measuring happiness. As he and the rest of his mates have effectively reversed 3,000 years of rational advancement by, as Chris correctly points out, ignoring clear facts in favour of warped moralistic rhetoric and misery inducing agenda, it seems increasingly likely that he will be able to. He won’t need to be right of course because these days, the amoral excuse for objective academia that populate the soft sciences and medicine can simply be paid to come up with whatever answer the pressure groups and their political friends dictate.

Anonymous said...

Succinct and appropriate (No. 2):)


Anonymous said...

Correct me if I am wrong,but didn't NHS reduce the guidelines on drinking from 2,3 units per day,to 2,3 units per day plus some 'dry' days?Soon enough,like smoking, they will reduce the guidelines even more..Besides there is no safe threshold limit on alcohol according to them!

I only wish for the healthists to move in more radicals approaches with alcohol.I think then non smokers will start to wake up en masse and start being more sceptical..

Furor Teutonicus said...

And so we see why the "Government" could not give a twopenny shit about the fate of pubs due to the smoking ban.

It was all part of the plot.

Killing off two birds with one load of 12 guage.

Steve Kelly said...

It probably is true that we can't stop the onward march of the healthists, in the short term, anyway. Folks will keep drinking, though, just as they've kept smoking. I make my own cigarettes now (US $1 per pack.) It's easy to do and the ciggies taste good. My grandfather, during Prohibition, made his own beer. He said it was easy to make a great brew. I can learn.

Anonymous said...

Like Karagiannis, there’s a part of me which secretly rejoices whenever I hear/see yet another anti-alcohol drip-feed (the most recent being the professional footballer who pretty much wiped out an entire family whilst driving at double the legal limit). I’ve been on countless beer-and-pub loving sites trying to make artificially-secure non-smoking drinkers see what’s coming their way and to point out to them the direct link between their support for the smoking ban (even if only by their deafening silence) and the threat to their own pleasurable vice, but to no avail. They just can’t see that all the time they accept the principles behind the smoking ban, then they simply can’t meaningfully argue against the same principle being applied to them without appearing hypocritical (and thus easy to ignore). “No such thing as passive drinking?” they say, but a look at the story cited above makes it clear that, oh yes, there is. All the ingredients are there – the irresponsible and inconsiderate imbiber and the poor little “innocent bystanders” who become the victims of his indulgence, even though they haven’t taken part themselves. That’s how “passive drinking” will be dressed up and presented to a gullible public, and the cries of “something must be done” will quickly follow as people scramble onto the teetotallers’ wagon in increasing numbers and begin to look down their noses at the morally inferior who stubbornly refuse to obey the latest Government dictats.

But non-smoking drinkers can see all this – probably because it involves swallowing their pride and taking a non-smokers’ stand against the smoking ban if their protests are ever to be heeded. I guess you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink – even if you know there’s a massive drought and a heatwave coming.

So I’ve given up. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve made their bed, now they can lie on it. And, as it becomes increasingly uncomfortable, you won’t find me offering any sympathy as their whining and their cries of “poor little us” and “it’s not fair” become ever louder.

Welcome to the world of the smoker, all you drinkers who thought that because it was “only about smoking” that it was inconceivable that it would ever morph into being “all about drinking.”

Anonymous said...

Whoops! Meant: "non-smoking drinkers can't see all this ...

Michael J. McFadden said...

Any time you ever get hit with the "no such thing as passive drinking" argument there are two good rejoinders.

The stronger one, focused on the poor workers "forced to choose between health and a paycheck" is simply to point out that, for consistency, the Antis should be 100% supportive of a ban on serviced daytime patio dining. There is no debate at ALL about the carcinogenicity of solar radiation, and while sunscreen and awnings may "provide partial protection" we all know that zero tolerance is the only way to go. Particularly for those poor folks with varying degrees of xeroderma pigmentosum who are denied their ability to make a living because pubs insist that their workers work outdoors sometimes!

The second argument is more direct, and quite true, but will inspire some derision. You can point out however that it was accepted by the editors of the British Medical Journal for publication. See:


Humph said...

"It is a shame that one of the more prominent members of the shadow front bench is an intellectually challenged hypocrite"

It's criminal that they all are.

mojo, Unrepentant Yank said...

Gee - the ones that drank me under the table must've been statistical outliers, I guess...