Coffee House

Is David Cameron about to drop minimum alcohol pricing?

2 March 2013

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.

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Show comments
  • Jock Coalman

    If you’re thinking, well, I do not drink the cheapest stuff, it’ll not affect me, think again!

    The basic or own brand beers, wines and spirits will not just disappear. They will, of course increase in price. Now, you can’t have a bottle, of say Famous Grouse around the same price as a plastic bottle of McTesco whiskey, so…..


  • Fergus Pickering

    Well that is excellent news. And the Scots are pushing on with it so we can expect trainloads of Scotsmen nipping over the border to buy the stuff by the crate.

    • Noa

      It’s sold by the bagful, I’m told, Fergus. Or, the case of Scotsmen, the sackful.

  • Radford_NG

    Football clubs have to pay for policing:so should drinks venues.Give full power to Councils to decide on numbers and sites of drinks venues and opening hours.Much problem drinking can be solved by co-ordiate efferts by the trading standards office and police to up-hold the law.(And demand your chief constable should be on the beat down town Saturday night;with the police commissioner as an observer.)

  • In2minds

    What Rhoda Klapp should remember is that ideas like road charging are very EU and our Dave loves the EU!

    • Rhoda Klapp

      I remember it was an EU initiative aimed at monetizing the investment in the otherwise superfluous Galileo navsats. Now they have realised that it can be done more easily with number plate reco which does not require a box in your car with the hacking problems that entails they are looking again. It isn’t too early to protest. Or get clone plates.

  • mal

    The fact that his two main ‘ personal priorities’ have been gay marriage and minimum alcohol pricing shows how inappropriate it is to have him as PM in these times. Get shod and get real Tories.

  • Julian Pursell

    Legalise weed, obviously, then the alcohol industry and the tax man can afford to charge a bit more.

    • Fergus Pickering

      No, don’t do that. Leave things as they are. That is what Conservatives are supposed to do. reverse the foolishness of socialism created by the previous Government and leave everything else alone.

  • MirthaTidville

    U turn, fudge and badly thought out plans,bereft of common sense, have been the hallmark of this lot from the beginning. If the band is still playing bum notes its time to change the conductor…

  • Stroudy

    It is very worrying that Cameron even considered doing anything to increase the cost of living. Pity he didn’t think twice about pushing gay marriage. The man seems to suffer from poor judgement.

  • Bellevue

    ‘….abandon a policy that has been a personal priority of his (Cameron)’. That just about sums it up. Gay marriage was a ‘personal priority of his’. Windmills were a personal priority of his.
    And look where that lot got him……

  • Tom Tom

    I had heard it was to be tested in the Palace of Westminster bars

  • Smithersjones2013

    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.

    How hard is it to realise the bleedin’ obvious?

    This government’s worst enemy is this government.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    And in a paroxysm of stupidity they are floating again the idea of road charging which has never quite gone down well with the public who forced Labour to drop it a few years ago.

  • Bruce_UK

    So, the Chordatically Challenged One wants to give us little people back something he had not yet taken away. How magnanimous. Our gratitude, I am sure, will be overwhelming.

  • Russell

    Cameron & Osborne should stop tinkering with silly little taxes like this and do some radical cuts to public spending. How about a 20% cut in salaries for ALL public sector workers on more than £100,000 per year, a 10% reduction for staff on £60,000 and a 10% reduction for those on more than £40,000. Now that would have an impact on public sector spending and help balance the books.

    • rollahardsix

      Speaking as a public sector worker on less than £16K (working full time, do not take any state benifits) I have no issue what so ever with your proposal Russell. Having said that, the council I work for isn’t making any redundancies – they are just not replacing staff when they leave or retire, so the workload on those left is increasing, and so in theory should ‘value for money’ for the tax payer.

    • Daniel Maris

      So the ones on £41,000 will go down to £36,900 and the ones on £39,000 will stay on £39,000, so higher graded people earn less than lower graded people. Well done Russell – you’ve really thought this through, haven’t you?

      Meanwhile in relative terms the poorer parts of the country, where the public sector makes up a larger proportion of the workforce, will become still poorer as the discretionary expenditure of the public sector employees is reduced. The public sector people will still have jobs, albeit on lower salaries, but the reduction in their discretionary expenditure will take out a range of private sector jobs, making those areas even more dependent on public sector expenditure. Yes…you’ve really thought this through…

      • Russell

        It’s a pity the Labour party and their supporters like Daniel object to every proposal to cut public sector wages and the Trade Unions wouldn’t have the same opinion as yourself. I’m sure the reductions could be incremental to avoid people just above the figures I used being worse off than those just below.
        Of course I believe that lower paid workers (less than average wage of £26,000) should not get any reduction.

      • alabenn

        What job in the public sector is worth more than £36900, years ago the so called CEO used to be the Town Clerk, councils were run better then, with a few exceptions like Newcastle upon Tyne.

        • Nicholas K

          By what witless logic do you make that claim? if a Permier League footballer is “worth” £100,000 a week, why isn’t a Whitehall mandarin worth £100,000 a year? Much of the waste of public money on defence procurement and PFI is due to the fact that on the private sector side of the negotiations, the people are better qualified and have more time to devote to running rings around the civil servants. Sir Jeremy Heywood’s clueless “investigation” into the incident between Andrew Mitchell and the Police Federation stooges at the end of Downing Street is proof positive that the brightest people are not attracted to public service these days. This is a serious problem given that, whether one likes it or not, the public sector spends about half our GDP.

          The salary cuts would in any event be pointless. Quite apart from the demultiplier effect on the economy mentioned by Daniel Maris, there are so few civil servants on £100,000+ or even £60,000+ that it would make no useful difference to public expenditure. Cutting in half the salaries of all NHS employees in Mid-Staffs would have a much more gratifying effect, both in terms of public expenditure savings and sending the right message.

          • alabenn

            Your reply is a strawman, where in my post did i say footballers or anyone else is worth what they get.

            That the civil service is useless like you say and the Staffs, hospital staff should be in jail on bread and water not on half or any pay, does this not tend to prove my suggestion about their worth is right or even optimistic.

            • Nicholas K

              There is certainly plenty of dead wood that needs clearing out of public bodies, but how will you find better replacements? Simply saying that swathes of Whitehall can be cut away is unrealistic as they perfom functions that our present technocratic society requires. If Cameron ever did succeed in repatriating powers from Brussels we would be in real trouble; Whitehall spends an insane amount on “consultants” even with most of the heavy stuff outsourced to Brussels.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Oh come, come, Daniel. Why should he think it through? There are ever so many people PAID to do that. You get the general drift. Cut the salaries of the people at the top. Seems fine to me. They can’t go anywhere else, unlike bankers who can. And it really IS our money. Whereas I can’t see that the moneyion the Standard Chartered Bank, for instance, is mine. Well, it is actually because I have £25,000 worth of shares but you see what I mean.

  • In2minds

    A U-turn, hooray!

    • Noa

      No news there with Cameron.
      Still if you don’t like this policy, he has others…

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