There’s been a lot of debate on the BBC this morning on the report from the Home Affairs select committee calling for the banning of what is called “below-cost” selling of alcohol. The idea of government setting minimum prices for alcohol is one idea put forward by the Committee’s oleaginous chairman, Keith Vaz.
Now before we get caught up in the debate about whether it is the price of alcohol or the availability of alcohol which is leading to widespread reckless drinking, I notice that the BBC pays no attention whatsoever to the totalitarian instinct behind this report, namely that politicians will decide the price we pay for alcohol. What next – the government to set minimum pricing for food “in order to combat obesity”? What bothers me is that way in which government continues to intrude into our lives and the only issue the BBC wants to discuss is just how great this intrusion should be. The other aspect of this debate entirely missing from BBC coverage is that those who drink excessively and who commit crime get away with blue murder if and when they are apprehended and brought to court. Judicial weakness is as much of issue here as the price of a can of lager, but somehow that is never mentioned by the BBC. In framing the debate in this particular way, the BBC helps ease through the totalitarian instincts of our political class and that is enough to drive anyone to drink!