Should Alcohol Have a Minimum Price? Radio Appearance


Sean Gabb on LBC with Iain Dale, on Friday the 23rd March . They discussed whether the British Government should set minimum prices for alcohol.

Sean says no for these reasons:

  1. The drunks who make a nuisance of themselves in public have not been drinking cheap alcohol. They have been drinking at some very expensive establishments. Sticking a pound on the price of each drink they consume will have no effect on the trouble they make.
  2. The real purpose of this measure is to increase what David Webb has called fiscal embezzlement by the ruling class. This is a tax by any other name.
  3. It is a tax that will hurt the poor. A few pounds of a bottle of shiraz will have no observable effect on the middle classes. No taxing or regulation of alcohol will have any effect on the Members of Parliament – they can drink subsidised alcohol all round the clock in the Palace of Westminster. But minimum pricing will hurt the poor. These are people who, more than anyone else, need the break from stress that alcohol provides. But any increase in prices will force them to choose between going without their drink or cutting down on some other necessary.


  1. Hi Sean,
    Absolutely agree with your all your comments here.Thanks George and the Bullingdon boys,the price has not gone up at the local Polish offy and is nearly a pound cheaper than the supermarket cartel,and a another 1.4% more alcohol.Cheers.
    Kind Regards

  2. What can be done about it?–not much you say Sean?.

    Buy illegal booze at smuggled prices–just as the white van ciggie man is prospering so will the mobile speakeasy of the future.

    Make and/or distill your own

    Put the scum doing this in accounts receivable and let them know that. If that dick Camoron received only a million letters telling him that the writers will be voting UKIP that will have him rushing for a change of underpants. Let a few thousand in each constituancy wrote to “their” HOC porker to promise that not only is he/she going to lose their cushy job but that the writers will not rest until said mp has been personally punished retroactively (fined, blackballed from good jobs,directorships etc) if they support this alcotripe.

  3. Ecks,

    We could have put a stop to this if millions of people hadn’t trouped into the polling booths and loyally voted Conservative because “they won’t be as bad as Labour”. Unfortunately, however much they are betrayed and ruined by the Tories, most of them will continue to do so, and Cameron knows that, regardless of threats to vote for somebody else.

    I said this before the election; I said, voting Tory is voting for more of the same. More taxes, more regulations, more laws, more multiculturalism, more power to the oligarchs. “Oh, but they won’t do it quite as fast as the Labours, anything’s better than the Labours, let’s get the Labours out”, was the reply.

    And thus, here we are.

  4. Sean,

    Just listening to the interview- nice to hear you get a chance to speak without being shouted down by organised harpies- I was musing a bit on how to answer the “why is there a binge drinking in town centres problem?” question. Here’s some thoughts-

    Firstly, the problem is exaggerated. A mythical past is presented in which everyone drank “responsibly” and didn’t get drunk and didn’t get into fights, vomit in doorways, etc. This is not true. People have always done these things. However, if we accept that this problem has got worse

    In the Good Olde Days, more drinking was done locally, in local pubs near to peoples’ homes. There has been a shift to drinking in concentrated areas, the famous town centres. A considerable part of the blame for this can be placed on government action. Taxes make drinking increasinly expensive. Additionally, regulation makes pubs less hospitable- a particular example being the smoking ban. Faced with high costs for a night’s drinking, customers are encouraged to roam further afield seeking the best value beer and best amenities, thus leading them to town centre “superpubs” of the Wetherspoons variety, who can negotiate cheaper beer prices due to their purchasing power, and offer more facilities, with which the local cannot compete. The customer simply doesn’t want to pay very high beer prices for the privelege of standing outside the Rose And Crown to have a cigarette. At least at Wetherspoons the beer is cheap.

    The further from hoime people drink, the more trouble will occur. Instead of a hundred yard stagger at the end of the night, the punter is far from home in the midst of a throng of similar people, trying to find transport, waiting disgruntled at taxi ranks and bus stops with complaining shivering girlfriends on their arms. Vomit that once would have ended up in a thousand front gardens across town now all ends up in a few town centre streets. Tempers flare and fights occur. And so on.

    Government policy has actively discouraged lower- problem local drinking. Pushing the price up further will only discriminate further in favour of the cheaper town centre Wetherspoons against the local pub. It might be noticed that Wetherspoons have been active handmaidens of the government, even infamously introducing the smoking ban early to curry ministerial favour. Government policy has not caused any more “bingeing”. It has changed where and under what circumstances people do their “binge drinking”. On this analysis, the cost is high prices, not low ones.

    Just my twopence in the old money.

  5. I would like to see the end of excise duties and just the same VAT rate on everything. Because the government shouldn’t be trying to “guide” our purchases.

    But, seeing the tax system in the round, my main concern is to stop this business of personal income taxation. It’s none of the state’s business how much earn and you shouldn’t have to report it. If, in the process of reducing the state from 50% of GDP to a Hong Kong level of one-third of that (15-17% of GDP) – possibly a staging post to a further reduction to Victorian levels – we eliminated 1) the TV licence (just a tax, by mean of which we fund our propagandisation); 2) the council tax (councils are doing far too much, and already have plenty of money to spend – one could accept a small levy to cover the bins, streetlighting and not much else – but in that case their block grant from central government would need to go); 3) inheritance tax (a tax not paid by the upper class, who have avoidance measures); 4) capital gains tax (a tax to prevent investment); 5) tax on share dividend income and the stamp duty on share dealing (taxes that prevent investment); 6) national insurance (a tax on employment – with no funded pensions at the end of it); and 7) income tax (the name says it all) – then in the context of a total elimination of the 7 means of personal taxation, I could accept some indirect taxation, eg of alcohol. The key point is the overall level and mix.

    Workers could afford alcohol even with a higher excise duty on it if they didn’t have to pay the above-listed 7 forms of personal taxation. So, while I support fully Sean’s argument that this is just an anti-working-class measure, the overall level of the tax take, and the mix between direct/indirect taxation is also crucial for me.

  6. I think that an incoming People’s English Revolutionary-Liberalist-Party’s government would abolish:-

    (1) All taxation on alcoholic drinks of all kinds,
    (2) All taxation on tobacco products of all kinds,
    (3) All fuel taxation (except VAT which would have to stay for a bit as we are so in debt).

    This would make us so popular, and immediately chop away the helot-labour-votariat from the StaliNazis, and give it to us, that we would not have to worry about the summary firing of seven million “state employees” that would follow fiscally on the same day.

    I also expect that the Armed Services would be on our side, specially as I would not be firing any of them, being Principal-Secretary-of-State-for-War. there are so few anyway that keeping them on would not make any difference to the Treasury.

  7. The other thing to do of course is to begin brewing our own as fast and as widely as possible. By then having enough to sell on, after having drunk ourselves into permanent stupor, we’ll see whether this is a taxation-thing or a Puritan-thing, or a “no” thing, by seeing how long it might take for armed police to bust our breweries and stills.

    In the meantime, it might be interesting to see at what stage permits and “licences” are suddenly required for the purchase of grain, barley, potatoes, sugar and yeast, or for the importing of same and whether the British Political Enemy-Class and its tenant-farmers is/are still allowed to grow these foodstuffs or buy/sell them.

    Ebay is a good indicator. You now seem to have to buy “empty bottles carrying a label which says 1kg of Potassium Nitrate”. Postage seem remarkably heavy for an empty bottle.

  8. Well, a min price for alcohol is researched and recommended. No argument from me. IMHO, it’s not anywhere as effective as The Pedestrian 08 Campaign. The US Navy recently trialed something awfully close to Pedestrian 08 and got an immediate 48% reduction. That’s right folks! An immediate 48% reduction in costly and sometimes fatal alcohol related incidents.
    Nowhere in the Western World has any credible authority or government achieved such a culture busting result. Can you name one?
    In Australia, where I write this, we have virtually eliminated driving under the influence. How? By setting out an easily understood limit to driving after drinking, measured and expressed in terms of your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). Then we have worked on cost effective, but, complete methods of policing. A few busloads of police go out into the wilderness – our suburbs – and Random Breath Test millions of drivers. Yes, millions of breath tests. (Last big campaign- 1.1 million tests conducted over 50 days. All in Victoria (pop. 5.5m))
    Effective? Yes, every year, an extra 100 drivers have to be RBTd to find one moronic drunk. We are up past 400 plus drivers now, who are delayed 1-3 mins for a test, once or twice a year. A small price to ensure, you don’t get maimed or killed in a head on accident via the selfishness of a moronic drunk…
    Civil Liberties? You bet. The right to life for thousands of innocents have been preserved.
    What’s this got to do with the above? Well, The pedestrian 08 campaign seeks to do the same for our crime riddled streets and public transport.
    1/ set out max BAC for pedestrians (BAC 0.08) 2/ educate widely. 3/ place BAC testing machines in all liquor venues so users can self test and stay within limits on own accord. 4/ deploy teams of police to widely test and fine, fine, fine offenders until they stop.
    Civil Liberties: You bet: Freedom from fear, violence, assault (70% assaults in Oz are down to binge drinking), rapes and one punch homicides. Further enhanced by the removal of alcohol fueled offenders holding up jail cells, so we can give hardened crims, hardened time. (Where 10 maybe 20. Sound good?). 80% of Melbournians are afraid to use their public transport system, their taxes have paid for. They will now have freedom of travel returned. Whole districts have been declared No Go Zones because of binge drinking. Law abiding citizens will now have the freedom to return.
    i urge you to do what will kill this problem off, once and for all.
    Pedestrian 08 has been proven by U.S. Navy Submarine Fleet.
    Motorist point 05 has proven it. Our work authorities have proven it industrially. Our civil aviation authorities have proven it for airline / commercial pilots.
    And don’t worry, anytime you want a drink, you’ll be able to get one.

  9. Well, there you go. The right to take intoxicating drink, but it is illegal to be intoxicated. Thus works the mind of the modern Temperance Campaigner.

    Anyway, “Pedestrian 08” is so far as I can tell, having come across it before, a one man single issue nutter group from Oz, otherwise known as Mike Cockburn. He’s been known to turn up in places like the Telegraph comments ranting about a conspiracy by somebody called “Big Liquor”, and can otherwise be found photoraphing himself out and about in Melbourne, clutching banners.

    The thing about people like Mike is that they start off laughable but, under an Anglosocialist dispensation, at some point they are likely to gain the attention of a poltician looking for a Cause, and suddenly they become significant and dangerous, like that bloke that got Lawn Darts banned.

  10. Just out of interest, and probably a futile waste of time, but anyway, I just used an online blood alcohol calculator and pretended I’d been in the pub from 7pm to 10pm and drunk 5 pints of 5% beer. I wish I had. Anyway, not a particularly wild imaginary evening, but…

    It told me I’m over double Mike’s legal limit. Mike’s proposed law is effectively a ban on drinking outside the home. Couple of beers, that’s it- not even worth the effort of going to the pub.

    Which is what the teetotaller nutters want for us, of course.

  11. @Ian B, thanks for your flattering comments…

    First item. It is already illegal in many Australian states to be “Drunk in a public place”. So, you don’t have to be “Drunk and disorderly”. If Police believe or fear you are about to “Go Off”, then they can and often do, arrest you, fine you etc.

    The point of Pedestrian 08 is to give that concept, currently left to the individual police officer’s discretion, a sound scientific basis. Tested on quality instrumentation. Pedestrian 08 gives “Drunk in a public place” a number. This number is then the line in the sand for those needing to be nannied. Those individuals so entirely out of control and self obsessed that they need a nanny. So, find out @Ian B, what any government believes is their notion of “Responsible Drinking”. See if you can provide a cogent line or two to explain it to any young person, whose brain development doesn’t stop until at least 23, with the ability to properly assess risk being the last element of their development. I bet you can’t.

    This is where The Pedestrian 08 Campaign kicks in. “Responsible Drinking Ends at Point 08”.

    The line in the sand is defined. No matter how many liquor outlets you flood our cities with, the consumer limit is Point 08. Whatever Big Liquor does, to increase the numbers of the addicted, the numbers murdered and injured, the numbers coping with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, the numbers dying of alcohol related cancers. No matter what these amoral, murderous corporates do, the fact on the street will be: Drink beyond point 08, in public, and you will be busted…

    So a once vague concept is given a number, that is fair to everyone, doesn’t discriminate against anyone, and protects those, who are lawfully drinking from arbitrary arrest and fines.

    As a self declared, self promoting civil libertarian I’m surprised you don’t support this measure? But cheap shots are your forte, aren’t they Ian? Let’s make the world fit Ian’s bleary eyed template. Don’t let reality intrude…

    “Big Liquor”? Few industries are so concentrated in ownership/market share terms as Big Liquor. As far as size goes – during times in Australia when the average weekly wage was about 150 per week, the average worker was wasting 25 a week on that other rec drug killer tobacco (want to deregulate those other cancer killers Ian? Nothing would surprise me about your twisted views…) and a clean 25 a week on Big Liquors toxic, carcinogenic, teratogenic, addictive drug. One third gone on addictive drugs. (The days of near nirvana to Ian..)

    See if you can manage to decipher any of those words Ian and contemplate what they mean…

    As far as the booze goes, the quantities have gone up and as a result of the attitudes of Ian and others on this website, whose collective campaign for more availability, more opening hours, more outlets, less restrictions on deadly advertising, has resulted in many more young children are affected by the so called binge drinking culture.

    You’d all be across the supermarkets selling alcohol cheaper than cola, and how the booze and other dependent drugs have destroyed whatever is left of normal “motherhood” as these wrecks plow booze down the throats of eight year old’s?

    Well done freedom fighters! Without you all, this great success could not have happened.

    If you were a responsible drinker Ian, you wouldn’t have needed to check your BAC level, given any count of whatever drink you drink, over what ever time frame you use it. You would know it instinctively? Right? No… Ian – a big drinker who doesn’t know what big drinking is…

    I cannot replicate your measure unless you give me your Gender – cant tell from here – your weight (that’d be interesting), any alcohol related illnesses you might have – (cirrhosis, cancers?) – over whatever time frame.

    @Ian, whatever your shocking drinking habits bring up on the BAC estimator, that is for your own contemplation. That is your business. In your home, where you would only present a danger to any unfortunate family on the scene. Under Pedestrian 08, you would be as able to get as irresponsibly drunk as often as you see fit, at home. Not where you pose a threat to yourself and more importantly, to taxpayers who fund hospitals, rehab centers, etc, as well as prisons, courts, cops. And not where you pose a threat to fellow alcohol users, and to innocent passerby’s.

    In your inebriated state, you might be mumbling something completely humorous to your good self without being able to perceive that you are coming across as a threat to others. Especially to women and children.

    Being at Pedestrian 08 can do that – but it is rare. Others can go higher, but remain a risk to themselves and others as they do common things like: walk across a road…

    Yes, at home or In contact with the General Public – those you may unintentionally hurt – that is where the regulation is needed. Needed because so many of you actually need a nanny. You cannot control yourselves.

    The research came up with the number 0.08 – hence the campaign. Had the number been 0.09, then we’d be named The Pedestrian 09 Campaign. Same for BAC 0.10? But the number was and is 0.08!

    Under Pedestrian 08, commercially encouraged, enhanced Binge Drinking will become impossible.

    Note, when I ran for Parliament, I received the needed 50 + nominations in 3 clean days. From the neighbour down the road who, along with her daughter, were terrorized on a Melbourne train, by violent drunks, finally ending with the sight of these hoons using the front end of the carriage as a urinal. Result? Both Mother and Daughter never, ever want to exercise their right to public transport. Ever again. Their freedom of movement gone via Big Liquor’s Terror.

    To the Grandmother, whose grandson is forever brain damaged in an alcohol fueled incident on a freeway. Result? The Grandmother will go to her grave regretting forever, what happened to her daughter’s child.

    Then the families of those punched and kicked to death. All in the interests of Big Liquor and their amoral and spineless acolytes.

    The focus of the campaign is not to gather “supporters”. The idea of the campaign is to seriously suggest a policy option that can be aimed at the whole population (best) or to target specific hotspots. Such as Trains and other public transportation, along with streets that are virtual No Go zones for ordinary, peaceful citizens.

    For those in Australia, King Street Melbourne ought to be first up.

    If your city or suburb has any “streets of fear”, Pedestrian 08 is the policy option that will totally clean up the problem in a very short period of time. A few weeks at most.

    The US Navy has proven it.

    Our motorist’s RBT program has proven it.

    Our aviation regulatory authorities have proven it.

    So, at some point, the technology provided by BAC testing machines will solve this area of alcohol’s harms.

    Big Liquor is a pushover. My god, they maim babies!

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