James Chapman reports today that plans for a minimum unit price for alcohol are set to be dropped. This is welcome news. The policy always promised to simply drive up the price of drink, penalising all drinkers, while doing little about public drunkenness or binge drinking.
The Mail says that the plan has fallen out of favour because of the government’s new emphasis on the cost of living. It is dawning on everyone that that hugely increasing the price of people’s pleasures at a time of falling real incomes is not a sensible political move. Although, the question remains of whether David Cameron will be prepared to fully abandon a policy that has been a personal priority of his.
Tory MPs will be cheered by this move. There was a growing nervousness amongst them of how dramatically increasing the cost of a cheap bottle of wine or beer would reinforce the impression that the Tories are a party of the rich who don’t understand how tightly household budgets are squeezed.