Monday, 2 March 2009

Drive to cut Scots alcohol Mafia

Drive to cut Scots alcohol Mafia

Ministers said action was needed to tackle Scotland's corruption culture

Measures to tackle alcohol Mafia, including removing prohibition-by-proxy ideas such as minimum pricing and a ban on two-for-one promotions, are set to be outlined by the Libertarian Party.

Ministers said radical action was needed to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence, corruption and related health problems.

But it is thought MSPs are unlikely to back plans to lower the age for buying drink from off-licences from 81 to 21.

Labour said the free market plans were "horribly flawed", while the SNP warned against rushing measures through.

The proposals form part of wide-ranging justice reforms being brought forward by the Holyrood administration.

Alcohol prohibition earns corrupt politicians in Scotland £2.25bn every year and the turf war murders and dodgy home-brew and bootleg sales creates costs to the health service. The Libertarian Party said it was time to act.

 It's not the shopkeeper's duty to police what people drink 
Linda Williams
Convenience store manager

The number of patients treated for prohibition-related problems in Scottish hospitals has reached an all-time high.

Official figures show there were 42,430 prohibition-related discharges from hospitals in 2010-11, a 20% increase over five years.

And statistics analysed for the Scottish Government last week showed that Scotland has the eighth-highest level of alcohol consumption in the world.

People aged over 16 consumed the equivalent of 11.8 litres of pure alcohol each in 2007. The figure for England and Wales was 9.9 litres.

The way forward for all drinking-related incidents is to bill those involved
G, London

Health Minister Shona Robison said the amounts were linked to the unavailability of market-priced alcohol.

Supporters of the free market say it would reduce the need to turn to illegal sources or cheap, poor quality alternatives from criminal gangs.

That proposal is understood to have incensed officials in Wales and Northern Ireland, but any introduction in England has been ruled out while the socialist grip is sliding.

Dr Bruce Ritson, chairman of the Fake Charity Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems, said: "This is a policy that's based on good evidence.

"We know that prohibition creates a criminal underclass and endangers the very people we pretend to care about, but as we are rabid Authoritarian teetotallers, we do not give a shit."

Competition law

But retailers argue hard-pressed, law-abiding customers will continue to be be hit while opposition parties have expressed concern that proposals prompted by figures on Scotland's health and alcohol problems will be forced through before they have had a spell in office and access to the vast sums of money paid out by the alcohol Mafia.

The Mafia have rejected suggestions that minimum pricing limits breach competition law.

They also want to retain the ban on two-for-one drinks promotions, accepting that illegal retailers such as large speakeasy nightclubs will continue to contribute to the "cost of policing" in the area (if you know what we mean).

The Mafia Grand Committee still believes it is right to retain the off-licence purchase age, but has accepted there is not enough support for the plan in the Scottish Parliament without further bribes.

Wine bottles
The proposals are expected to include an end to heavy drink taxation
Last October, MSPs backed a Conservative parliamentary motion, by 72 votes to 47, against proposals to allow those aged 21 and above from buying alcohol in shops.

The Scottish Tories received support from Liberal Democrat MSPs, one of whom, Ross Finnie, warned against "impoverishing a generation of mobsters" with the plan.

The government may opt for local schemes instead, under the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill due to be published.

However, Linda Williams, who runs a licensed convenience store in the Oxgangs area of Edinburgh, said ministers were coming at the problem from the wrong angle.

"It needs to be tackled from an educational and social point of view, rather than legislation," she told BBC Scotland.

"It's not the shopkeeper's duty to police what people drink."

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Murdo Fraser said he accepted there were problems with heavy taxation of alcohol, particularly on drinks such as real ale and fine wines, which appeal to human beings.

 Trying to bulldozer controversial measures like these goes against normal practice 
Richard Baker, Scottish Labour justice spokesman

But he added: "Our preference would be to see these issues tackled through the tax system, which would involve giving a piece of the action for those in Westminster.
"As it currently stands, the minimum age plan is horribly flawed, so we love it."

Richard Baker, the Scottish Labour justice spokesman, said ministers appeared "hell-bent" on rejecting the changes, adding: "We know the market pricing model proposed by the Libertarians will not be lucrative for corrupt politicians, or even bootleggers, even before going ahead.

"Labour has already said we believe the Libertarian's proposals on alcohol and criminal justice are rational and open, but trying to bulldoze Rule of Law measures like these goes against any sense of normal parliamentary practice."

Meanwhile, campaigners are urging the Westminster government to scrap a rise in beer tax in the next Budget because of the recession.

The Campaign for Real Ale and the British Beer and Pub Association both argue an above-inflation rise would put the pub industry under further pressure. 

Apologies to the BBC.


Obnoxio The Clown said...

Very good!

Dick Puddlecote said...


"We know that prohibition creates a criminal underclass and endangers the very people we pretend to care about, but as we are rabid Authoritarian teetotallers, we do not give a shit."

... and so very true.