Wednesday, 21 January 2009

That cheap pint........

Pub chain Wetherspoons announced that they were selling a pint for 99p.

The knee-jerk reaction was as rapid as it was predictable. The anti drink lobby and the hand wringing professionally concerned were out in force lambasting the company for what some described as irresponsible selling of alcohol.

But amidst all of this, there was an opportunity to see how the SNP's proposals on alcohol, led by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill (described by journalist Tom Little as a zealot in this article) would affect offers such as these.

Well, if we assume that the beer in question was 4% ABV (not an unreasonable assumption), and we apply the SNP's suggested minimum price per unit of alcohol of 35p, then it turns out that Wetherspoons, or anyone else for that matter, could actually sell a pint for the grand total of 80p.

A whole 19p less than the pint currently offered, and still within 'Kenny's Law'.

Personally, I like a bargain, and I enjoy a pint (though not for the past 13 weeks due to my diet), so I certainly don't mind combining the two. I appreciate that we need to address our relationship with alcohol, but trying to price the stuff out of people's reach simply won't cut it. Those that want to, or need to buy the stuff will continue to do so, and they will fund the extra cost from other parts of the household budget. Like so many other of Mr MacAskill's pronouncements, this one will have the sum total of no effect on the problem whatsoever.


Luke said...

Hi Jim,

I agree with you when you say overtaxation of alcohol won't solve anything. The government in Norway had put up the price of a pint to the equivalent of £7(!!) & the folk there are still binge drinking!

Personally, I think it's a matter of responsibility. But how do you preach that? And haven't the government tried to champion a European style cafe culture but what it seems to such little effect?

I also welcome the news. But as a Nottingham Trent student I've been rather spoilt when it comes to cheap drinks so it's not news to me!

BTW- Love the blog, always insightful reading.
Thanks :)

Stuart Winton said...

Just realised recently that you're licensing chairman in Angus; are you allowed to say such things??

1st Lady said...

I've heard the hoople about this, and I'm a bit fed up of how consumers aren't blamed for their own actions. We borrow when we cant afford to and we drink too much when its cheap, yet the blame goes to those that provide these opportunities.

99p you say? Do they serve breakfast?

Jim said...


Thanks for your comment, and I'm glad you enjoy the blog.

I agree with you completely about about responsibility. How do you preach it? I would suggest it has only really been tried once, and the repercussions of it has put a lot of others off from trying it.

In a quote that has since become much abused, Margaret Thatcher said:

"I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation."

Of course, everyone simply remembers the 'no such thing as society' bit, but we should not be afraid to promote personal responsibility. I have said before that many people 'know their rights' but the ones that know their rights inside out are often the ones with absolutely no knowledge of their responsibilities to their neighbours or the rest of the community.

If there is litter on the street or dog mess in the park, people blame the council for not cleaning it up, they often never think to blame the person who dropped the litter or the dog owner for not picking the mess up.



Jim said...


When I make comments such as these, it is my own personal opinion (as it states at the head of the blog). Therefore, I am quite comfortable doing so.

When the story broke, a Licensing Board Chairman in another area was quoted extensively condemning the pub chain. I'm just giving my personal view.


Jim said...

1st L,

By strange coincidence they do the most fantastic breakfasts!

Well worth a visit!


Luke said...

My sentiments exactly,

I do think that 'society' is often to reliant & expectant of their respective governments & councils whilst failing to realise (& act upon) their own responsibilities.

There's only so much governments/councils can do. The rest is (or should be) on you. We're all adults after all!

An excellent quote from the 'Iron Lady' herself. I don't remember it personally (I was born in the 80's) & I struggle to see why it was so heavily chastisized. But mind you, I get the impression that the anti-Thatcher bandwagon was an easy one to jump on.

Thank you for the advice.