Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Channelling Al Capone.

Minimum pricing is back, well not really, but yes really, but not quite, but it's a start.

Setting a minimum price is illegal under EU rules. It's price-fixing, which companies get hammered for all the time in this country but apparently it's okay for the Righteous to do it. Pretty much goes for anything from jaywalking to mass dehumanisation, discrimination, racism, defiling graveyards, child abuse and cannibalism, really. It's naughty unless the Righteous do it. Then it's Good.

What they've done this time is sneaky. They haven't set a minimum as such, what they've said is that shops cannot sell for less than the cost of duty plus VAT. So shops can give the stuff away as long as the customer pays duty and VAT.

Well, okay, but really this makes no difference to the Coagulation. They'll get the taxes whether we pay them or Mr. Tesco pays them. In practice, Mr. Tesco isn't going to sell below cost because that's a good way to go rapidly out of business. He is also no more likely to pay your taxes than you are to pay his. So what's it for?

Aha, here's the clever part. They aren't setting a defined minimum per unit so they aren't breaking EU rules. Once they have this 'thou shalt pay' rule in place, they can then set the duty to whatever they like. No rules broken, minimum price by the back door.

As with smoking, the entire construction is on a bed of sand, and very wet sand at that.

It'll cut crime they say. Right. So those alkies currently begging for a few quid to get some Tennent's Super are not going to get more aggressive, or turn to mugging, because they need more money than before to get the same amount of booze. Get real, Forehead Dave.

All those restrictions on tobacco have produced a thriving black market in hooky baccy and alcohol is far, far easier to produce than tobacco. Stills in the woods again, it seems, with some literally blinding moonshine of indeterminate and variable strength. Demijohns in every airing cupboard producing undefined alcohol-content wine. Beer brewed and freeze-distilled (unlike the last Prohibition, everyone has a freezer now) into especially deadly barley wine. Cut crime? Try 'will boost crime tenfold' and see how that suits you. Look at those Muslim countries where alcohol is totally banned. You can get it easily but what's in it? Nobody has a damn clue and the sellers don't care. That is what Don Shenker wants to happen here.

You can ban alcohol entirely, as the Americans once did and as many Muslim states do now. It will not make a scrap of difference other than to create a market for illegal, unregulated and possibly deadly booze. The same effect you get when you make heroin illegal. It doesn't stop the problem, it just puts the entire market into criminal hands.

Cameron, listen for God's sake. We are going to get booze and you will not stop us. You can regulate it, quality control it and tax it or you can hand it all over to the Mafia, the Tongs and Al-Qaeda and watch us get smashed anyway. You know, I think this government should look into whether Shenker, Arnott and the BMA have any links to organised crime and perhaps terrorism. They certainly seem determined to push a lot of business that way.

It'll cut binge drinking they say. Pubs closing in their thousands since the smoking ban has not stopped binge drinking. I have never seen nor heard of any pub, club or any alcohol-selling premises that is actually open 24 hours a day. It's allowed but in real life it doesn't happen. Off-sales run 10 am to 10 pm (in Scotland) and it's so strict that if you arrive at a checkout at one minute to ten and your booze doesn't go through first, the till operator is not allowed to sell it to you. Computer says no.

It won't affect binge drinking at all. Of course it won't. Shenker knows this as well as his sibling vampire the Dreadful Arnott knows that she will never abolish smoking. They have their teeth in the taxpayer's neck and as every vampire knows, you don't drink it all at once. Little sips at a time. Yes, I have Dracula on the Kindle (free book, and if you don't have a Kindle there are free Kindle programs for just about anything including iPhones).

If there was a dramatic drop in binge drinking in response to this, Shenker would find his funding drying up. What he needs is a small decline, and that's guaranteed because it's already happened anyway. He, like the Arnott, needs to keep pushing and pushing but never quite get there.

You can't escape being a binge drinker. As with the narrowing definition of obesity, binge drinking is rapidly becoming defined as drinking anything at all. Soon, walking past a display of shandy will get you registered as an alcoholic. Aimed at the wasted shirtless skinheads lying around the streets? Three pints? Do you imagine those incoherent babblers with damp trousers and melted eyes managed to get that way on three beers? This is not aimed at the troublemakers. Nothing ever is.

The pub closures are because of cheap supermarket booze, they say, Via Man Widdicombe, the Student Brewer expertly debunks this crap. If you have a set amount to spend on booze, as most of us do, you won't move to pubs when supermnarket prices rise. You'll just buy less. Personally, I like malt whisky, and some blends. I have tasted the dirt-cheap own brand blends and won't again. I don't care how cheap they get, I will not buy them, I'd rather have less of the good stuff than more of the shite. I'm not in a position to say 'Lagavulin, and hang the cost' but once in a rare while, I'll get a bottle.

I'm not rich and probably never will be but I know there are those to whom Lagavulin is an impossible dream. There are those who have to consider whether to spend a tenner on Clan MacGregor (a reasonable cheap blend, by the way). Should they be denied any taste of anything beyond a half bottle of Asda own brand firewater? Someone gave me a litre bottle of that once. Minus one small glass, which I didn't finish, it's still there.

I know people who will buy a bottle of whisky and make it last for months because to them, it is an extraordinarily expensive treat. I always decline their offers of a dram because I know how hard it is for them to afford it. I am at that point where I can afford decent whisky but balk at the price of fillet steak. I've met, at the other end of the scale, people who invite you to stately-home restaurants where there are no prices on the menu. If you have to ask, you shouldn't be there. Lucky for me I wasn't paying.

They won't be at all affected by price-per-unit because paying £100 per unit is no issue to them now. It will be some time before it affects me because paying £20-£30 for a bottle of whisky isn't too onerous, if a little limiting. For those struggling to meet Clan MacGregor prices, it will be a killing blow tomorrow. They are not binge drinkers. They are just ordinary people who like a drop of the hard stuff before bedtime. Most of them used to vote Tory, Labour, Lib Dem or SNP. Now they'd rather vote for the Church of the Militant Elvis. Which is, at least, progress.

But here we are. A first step on the antismoking - sorry, antidrinking road. It's hard to tell. The methods are exactly the same. Of course, CAMRA, being entirely composed of bearded cretins, will never notice this. As far as they are concerned, getting smokers out of their pubs was never any kind of first step to shutting them all down. It was a welcome removal of those who smoked sub-Righteous forms of tobacco. Pub closures? All down to shops selling cheaper booze, which they have done since time began and which has mysteriously never had any effect until the Ban That Dare Not Speak Its Name happened. CAMRA, time's up. Game over. You have ceased to be relevant in this fight.

Like the pub association, CAMRA are quislings who believe that by collaborating with the enemy, they will be passed over. No, CAMRA, this time they are coming for you. Three pints is now binge drinking, can you see what it is yet? CAMRA is out of the game. No further relevance to either side.

The pub association are the same. Instead of fighting the smoking ban they insisted it spread to private clubs. Now they bleat that smokers don't visit the pubs that made them unwelcome and claim it's all down to the supermarkets. Let them bleat. Let them insist on increased supermarket prices. Brewing our own is a piece of yeast piss. The pubs are no longer relevant. Let them go. We meet at Smoky-Drinky now.

As a smoker, I have seen this all before. Prepare now. Kit yourself with brewing gear and start practicing. Forget setting up a small brewery, they will all be out of business in a few years. All you will get is supermarket own brand yak's piss while those who impose this sip champagne and laugh at you. Mr. Tesco is not paying the duty and tax and is not making a loss. Who's making the loss? The supplier. Mr. Tesco does not care if a supplier goes under, there are plenty more idiots willing to try their hand. Small breweries, like small businesses, are anathema to the communism of the EU our government desires for us. Not them, just us.

Minimum pricing will not hurt the supermarkets at all. Compared to pub prices they have massive scope to pass on any extra costs and blame the government. Pub closure rates will be unaffected. Boozy bastards causing mayhem on a Saturday night will be unaffected. Smokers won't go back to the pubs now, no matter the cost difference because it was never about cost. Personally I might not ever go back even if the smoking ban were completely rescinded. I cannot get past the betrayal and abandonment of the entire pub industry. You threw me out, people, you dehumanised me and you hated me. I will not pay you money now.

Homebrew and illegal stills will flourish. Tax take will, as with all these products of the deranged mind, decline. Criminal versions of all types of booze will be on the streets and believe me, they are already in preparation. The undergound economy has always been well ahead of the one you see. These criminals care nothing for quality control or safety or age limits. They will sell methanol to five-year-olds if it makes a profit. Nasty? Very. Get used to it, because here it comes courtesy of Don Shenker and the mindless drones we call 'government'.

Just as the Dreadful Arnott has boosted underage smoking, so the Donkey Shanker is about to boost underage drinking. With exactly the same methods.

So, who is it they really work for, eh? Because they don't work for your benefit, that's for certain.


Anonymous said...

There are some cracking homebrew kits out now and its easy to push out 40 pints for a tenner.

Anonymous said...

It seems that the Gov is about to make an insignificant variation in the price of booze at the lowest strata. Lots of lawyers in the Health/Business dept will be fully employed for a while at great expense. The reason for all this activity and expense is said to be, "Because binge drinking will be reduced." But what is the reality?

The reality is that supermarkets reduce SOME booze prices below cost in order to be able to advertise and market themselves as 'the cheapest'. At best, this very expensive law (bearing in mind the cost of implmentation and the inevitable quango to oversee the law) will stop supermarkets shaving a penny off the price of a bottle of whiskey.

What is the point? There is none whatsoever - not even some electoral advantage. Who actually gives a toss?

And yet, is this not the great big elephant? Politicians think that a minuscule variation will have a given effect (whatever that may be), but the reality will be that grown ups (even 18 year old grown ups) will decide for themselves. That is the elephant, and politicians can do nothing about it.

Pubs are dying. Politicians are turning their faces away so as not to see it. Instead, they will argue about shaving a penny off the price of....

Why do politicians learn no lessons? In the year 2006, while they were pondering the Health Bill, the recession was in plain sight. What is wrong with these people? Why do they engage in minuscully important matters when there are MASSIVE problems around them (such as youth unemployment)?

Is it any wonder that THE PEOPLE are angry? This country, at the moment, is a 'powder keg' just waiting for the fuse to be lit. The light which ignites the fuse may be something and nothing, something unforseen at this time. The important point is that the 'powder keg' (the anger of the people) is there. When the powder keg explodes, who knows where it will go? The student riots against tuition fees was not just an isolated event. It is akin to the riots and revolution in Morocco.

My own opinion is that politicians must grow up and stop acting like kiddies in the playground. Life is real and earnest. The decisions that they make are the difference between life and death for some people. They must stop thinking that Parliament is some sort of amusing thing - where PM's question time has any importance whatsoever, amusing though it may be. In fact, is it not time that PM's question time should be abolished? After all, it sends out a TERRIBLE message.

Anonymous said...

Heard Gilmore spouting about "modelling" results to justify this. Nuff said.

Junican, I truly believe that power to run the country now resides with Brussels. Since Westminster MPs have no country to run they justify their existence by running our lives. They will rationalise this by the notion that society is no more than the sum of individuals in which the good society means no more than one in which each individual conforms to a standard of 'goodness'.


richard said...

Junican, the government is far from stupid. The pub closures were forseen and planned for. This part of an attack on any manifestation of community spirit. They don't like people talking in pubs. Ear-splitting music in pubs? Another ploy. The only easy communication is the hand-wobble "want a pint" sign.

Dave H. said...

"Yes, I have Dracula on the Kindle..."

Snap. Downloaded it just before Xmas.

I was genuinely surprised that every physical description of him carried an emphasis over weird sharp teeth. That I was surprised by this detail means I really ought to be laughed at more often.

winston smith said...

" Setting a minimum price is illegal under EU rules"

There is no such EU rule.
You may be referring to the European Court which was set up in the early 50's before the EEC/ EU was established.

The fact that politicians keep trying to introduce minimum pricing is due to two possible reasons.

1. They're ignorant of the European Court

2. They're fully conversant with European Court law and are playing silly buggers and trying to fool us into thinking they give a shit about our health.

Anonymous said...

This is just another little step. They can easily fix a price per unit. they can adjust the units in a bottle--they did that recently.

They want pubs to close --can't have people plotting revolution.

Powder keg you say? How well armed are the populace after Hungerford etc? And how politicized and armed are the police?
When this crap is enacted they will just move on and never admit anything is wrong as they smoke and drink in their subsidized bars.

View from the Solent said...

OT but, Spain? Unh?

English Pensioner said...

And, as I said on my blog, it will create a new army of jobsworths to ensure that the law is being obeyed. No doubt every alcohol retailer will have to submit returns showing exactly what alcohol they have sold, the number of units in each bottle or can and the selling price. This should help the unemployment figures.

Meanwhile, I look forward to a change in our weekly ready meal from Tesco - instead of a "Meal for two for £10" it will no doubt soon be "Free meal for two with every bottle of wine costing over £10".

David Davis said...

History shows us that the fate of people who take part in, let alone run - tax-revolts (like the "Peasants" of 1381 who were in fact mostly fully-free yeomen, franklins and owner-occupiers or at least substantial tennants, just like today) is always dire.

Examples were made on the spot of Wat Tyler and a few others: John Ball got himself butchered ritually a little later, Richard II wisely took the advice of his sPADs and reneged on everything, just like David Cameron and the Queen did/do. Hundreds of randomly assorted others, specially from Essex (any parallels here?) were later hunted down and HDQd.

There's no point in glorifying the existence of any "poweder-kegs", if those inside them have no formal direction, no strategic focus, can't articulate (blame the State schools) what they actually think the want to or ought to demand, and will run out of puff at the first armed-police-charge. Even a wall of upturned Vauxhall Novas won't stand an armed police charge with hardened vehicles, supported by dudes in checked baseball-hats/body-armour and MP5s, and covered overhead by helicopters.

People have nothing with which to resist.

There will be no powder-keg I bet you all 5p. It's finished: the bastards have won. We might as well buy all the booze we can afford and just do what the Russians did under sovietism. It's better than trying to stay alive and live the Fabian Dream.

Anonymous said...

LI - mother picked up a pack of free half pint glasses (available now at your local Aldi), and was shocked when I examined them and found 1) they were plastic, 2) they had wee funny coloured lines indicating how much you should pour for weak/strong beers, spirits and wine measures into the wee tumbler to avoid you exceeding your "unit ration".

It even has wee male and female figures on it so you can figure out how much (little) you should imbibe!

Fucking excellent - I'm using one now and just quadruple the nip over the spirit line to guarantee a decent nip from them.

All paid for by "healthier Scotland", with their logo in it - or as we might call it - us the taxpayer.

Fuck it, I'm taking a few into work to spread the news about "safe" drinking limits are prescribed by these champpers quoffing pricks as to how we should live our lives.

Nice one Nicola!

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