Friday, 21 October 2016
Scottish minimum pricing ruled lawful
The Scotch Whisky Association's argument was that the policy is a restriction on trade and thus contrary to EU law. The opposing argument is all about alcohol misuse, asserting that minimum pricing would help address Scotland's "unhealthy relationship with drink".
My reasons for opposing minimum pricing are not personal; as I'm a beer drinker in pubs, it wouldn't make much difference to me. I previously explained my reasons here just before the 2013 CAMRA national AGM in Norwich, where a motion had been tabled to end the campaign's support of the policy. Pleasingly, the motion was passed, much to the chagrin of the top table.
Not everyone who buys cheap alcohol is a binge drinker - many simply don’t have much money, so minimum pricing will mainly affect the poorest in society. It is in effect a poll tax levied equally on every drinker, without reference to their ability to pay. The better-off and rich will still be able to buy as much drink as they like, unhampered by nanny state interference. I have never heard anyone assert that alcohol misuse is confined to the poorest in society; this law affects certain strands in society disproportionately and is therefore inherently unjust. Is this an unintended consequence? I don't think so.
I'm hoping the Scottish drinks industry does appeal further, even though I don't particularly share its motives.