Bowing to pressure over minimum pricing

27 March, 2009

At last some degree of common sense has been allowed to prevail in Scotland, where the government has been forced to concede it must follow proper procedures if it wants to fundamentally change the way alcohol is sold.

Politicians have finally bowed to pressure and admitted that bringing policies in through the backdoor will not be tolerated. For too long, the militant views of a few have been allowed to lead the agenda and it's about time some balance was restored.

A proper debate is now what's called for, starting with a show and tell on the tangible merits of minimum pricing.

The SNP has done its crusade few favours by consistently shying away from revealing

evidence that setting a minimum price for alcohol would reduce problem drinking

- and crucially how it would be implemented. But it s refusal to discuss the details of how its

proposed model would work has

left it open to interpretation, earning the idea a few supporters.

There are some suppliers who harbour hopes that it holds the key to increasing margins and that higher price tags will ultimately mean there's more cake to go around - and they'll get a fairer deal when it comes to the slicing.

But using minimum pricing as an instrument to resolve supplier/retailer wrangles is a risky strategy, which could leave both parties fighting over a few crumbs instead.

As duty continues to demonstrate, when prices are pushed up, consumers think twice about buying alcohol

- especially in a recession. Meanwhile, the small minority whose behaviour minimum pricing is intended to alter continues to consume alcohol in the way

it always did - just for a bit more money.

That's a fact that raising prices by setting a minimum figure per unit of alcohol will never change. Finally, that's a view Scottish politicians will have to consider

- and


Help protect our industry

- text us now

Thanks to the support of our trade, OLN's Tax: Enough is Enough campaign has been gathering pace and has clearly struck a nerve with retailers and customers. But we need more texts if we are to dent the government's resolve on duty hikes.

The fight starts on the front line, so as well as displaying our campaign poster (a

copy of which is printed on page 12 of this issue) and telling your customers about the disproportionate amount they pay in tax

- please spare a few seconds to send us a text

message of support . All you have to do is send

'ENOUGH' to 82055.

Next Tuesday, I'll be

taking details of the number of text messages we have received straight to Downing Street.

It's time the trade and its customers made a stand against the Chancellor's policy - before he's al lowed to hike taxes up further in next month's Budget. Every text counts

- we need yours now.

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