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Response from a useless MP - We WILL introduce minimum alcohol pricing

You may remember I contacted my MP Jake Berry last week with the following email.
Good evening Mr Berry

I live in Darwen and voted for you at the last election. The main reason was that the Conservatives were the only folk who could get rid of the nightmare that was New Labour.
I was hoping that you guys would be a lot better and give us some of our freedom to choose back. I'm still waiting, but that's another story.

I managed to grab a glance at the Lancashire Evening Telegraph at work this afternoon while having a smoke on my break. I quickly read a story about yourself and some other chap being sent a letter asking you to support minimum alcohol pricing. I don't remember what it said much as I had to get back to the grind. It did promt me to write this though.

If you really have been asked to support minimum alcohol pricing I would strongly implore you not to do so. For one you're a Conservative, although Andrew Lansley and others have shown that the Conservatives can wantonly cry for baning of things just to save us from ourselves. I hope you are different if only for the reason that you are my local MP.

I speak to Councillor Dave Smith quite often because [......] is one of his best pals. We were talking about the smoking ban in pubs and I tried to tell him about all the pubs that have closed since the ban, all the people put out of work and all the folk, particularly the elderly, who have had social lives ruined. His only response was that smoking is bad for you. But that's a Labour chap who doesn't believe in freedom to choose. The Conservatives are supposed to believe in freedom.

But once again, I ramble. Back to minimum alcohol pricing.

The fact is that politicians like yourself are being lied to by people who have a vested interest in taking taxpayers money to further their own adgenda. Just like the Tobacco Control Industy. A recent FOI request showed that Smokefree Southwest spent £460,000 of taxpayers money on advertising billboards to promote plain cigarette packaging. There is a lot of money to be made in tobacco control and alcohol control is going in the same direction.

If you were to support minimum pricing, just think about the day when you are spending a romantic evening with your other half, sharing a bottle of wine that has a picture of a diseased liver on it. It will also cost three times as much as it does now becuse a minimum price will only be the start. Campaigners will make sure that the minimum price keeps rising, just like tobacco tax.

A minimum price is also totally unnecessary. There are a number of reasons quoted for bringing it in. Alcohol fulled violence - There are already laws in place to deal with idiots, we just need to use them.

Cost to the NHS - We all pay national insurance by force. If some people should be denied treatment on the NHS, would you also allow them to stop paying NI and take out private health care? Where costs to the NHS come from violence rather than illnesses, like I said before, there are ways to deal with morons.
Protecting the children - The desperate cry of the illiberal. It is illegal for people under eighteen to drink alcohol. Use existing laws to deal with them.
Cheap supermarket prices - This is the 'pre loading' arguement. The same was used to explain the demise of pubs after the smoking ban. Supermarket booze has always been far cheaper than pubs. A minimum price will not bring supermarket booze in line with pub booze so pre loading will continue which takes us back to existing laws to deal with drunken idiots.

Etc.

A minimum price will not stop the determined drinker from drinking. All it will do is make the poor poorer and penalise all the responsible drinkers out there, people who are by far in the majority.

Also, alcohol consumption is trumped as a huge epedemic problem by the national press and the campaigners, yet alcohol consumption is actually on the decline.

Seriously. You'll never hear that from the people who have a vested interest in bringing in the minimum price so how about hearing it from the NHS?

There has been a long-term downward trend in the proportion of adults who reported drinking in the week prior to interview. In 1998 75 per cent of men and 59 per cent of women drank in the week prior to interview compared to 68 per cent of men and 54 per cent of women in 2010.

Did you know the NHS released it's annual alcohol consumption statistics just before the Jubilee? It wasn't in any of the national newspapers but you can read the report here: http://www.ic.nhs.uk/statistics-and-data-collections/health-and-lifestyles/alcohol/statistics-on-alcohol-england-2012-%5Bns%5D

13 per cent of secondary school pupils aged 11 to 15 reported drinking alcohol in the week prior to interview in 2010 compared with 18 per cent of pupils in 2009 and 26 per cent in 2001.

I'll bet the contents of my wallet that none of this was included in the letter talked about in the Telegraph.

Alcohol consumption has been declining for some time now. So much so that they had to change how they recorded the figures just to bring them back up again.





These figures aren't even true, they are only estimated. For example, 46% of pedestrian traffic accidents involving women aged 25 to 44 are estimated to be attributable to alcohol. Source: http://www.straightstatistics.org/article/drink-and-disease-how-figures-can-confuse?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Deborah Arnott, head honcho of ASH once said that there is no slippery slope because tobacco is a unique product. Since then we have seen drinkers, fatties and people who like salt on their chips targeted in the same uncompromising, denormalising and hateful way that smokers have been targeted.

You may not smoke or drink, you may be in trim and you may avoid salt (a substance necessary for life) but one day they will find something you like and add you to the list.

Please do not support minimum alcolhol pricing, but should you choose to do so, just remember,

We are all smokers now.

Thanks for reading my ramblings 

_____________________

 Well today I received a nice typed reply, on House of Commons headed paper, through the post. It made me wonder why I even bothered. I don't think he even read my email as none of my concerns have been adressed or even acknowledged.


Here it is
Dear Mr Bucko


Thank you for contacting me about the issue of minimum alcohol pricing.
Alcohol misuse is one of the biggest problems we face as a nation.
If alcohol misuse is considered by MPs to be one of the biggest problems we face then I would suggest they have their priorities seriously misaligned.
The Government must work towards turning round a drinking culture that last year lead to 1.2 million admissions to hospital. New estimates suggest that these hospital admissions cost £3.5 billion every year. These are shocking figures and I am pleased that the Government has committed to tackling the full range of problems caused by excess alcohol.
I covered hospital admissions and costs to the NHS in my email but all my points have been ignored
Minimum alcohol pricing set at 40 pence per unit is one of the many steps the Government is taking to tackle alcohol misuse.
Note the words 'is taking'. Not looking into, not consulting, they are going to introduce a minimum unit price.
The Department of Health will continue to work with the alcohol industry and non-governmental organisations through the public health responsibility deal in a range of areas. A new public health responsibility deal collective pledge announced recently is to take one billion units of alcohol out of the market by 2015 through improving the choice available of lower strength products.
The DoH may work with NGO sock puppets but they don't work with the alcohol industry, they work against it, just like they do against the tobacco industry and now the soft drinks industry.


And it is also now clear that the DoH plans to step into the alcohol market and dictate what products can and cannot be sold.
The crime and violence it causes drains resources in our hospitals, generates mayhem on our streets and spreads fear in our area.
Very sensationalist but I also covered crime and disorder in my email and the fact that a targeted response against criminals is better than blanket legislation.
The alcohol strategy introduces a strong set of measures which will clamp down on binge drinking and provide greater support and advice to help people maintain a healthier lifestyle. The report can be found at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/drugs/alcohol-strategy/


Thank you again, blah, blah, blah.
Well I must say I am disappointed. You obviously read none of what I wrote but I'll do you the courtesy of looking at the link you provided:
The alcohol strategy includes commitments to:
  • introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol
  • consult on a ban on the sale of multi-buy alcohol discounting
  • introduce stronger powers for local areas to control the density of licensed premises including making the impact on health a consideration for this
  • pilot innovative sobriety schemes to challenge alcohol-related offending
So there you have it. The Nanny State, now brought to you by the Tories.


I will formulate a reply in due course.


*Update*


The alcohol strategy website states the following:
Alcohol has been so heavily discounted that it is now possible to buy a can of lager for as little as 20p and a two litre bottle of cider for £1.69.
I've fired off an FOI request for the source of this obvious bollocks

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