Idiots such as Liam Donaldson should have been strangled at birth. His latest proposals, for a minimum alcohol price, will no doubt have a hypnotic fascination for this government, which enjoys nothing more than spending billions in taxes on nannyish fiddling that has no effect.
Much work has been done on the price elasticity of demand for alcohol in the UK. It varies for beer, wine and spirits. It varies for some other factors. Both own-price elasticity and cross-price elasticity must be considered. The Treasury Model (.pdf) in particular suggests that spirits taxation in particular is far below its revenue-maximising level; that the duty on spirits could be raised by 40% to maximise revenue, and sales (and revenue) would only fall off if duties went beyond this. This means swingeing price increases on cheap supermarket vodka, with the cheapest under Donalson's proposed 50p a unit tax at £18.75 for a litre of own-brand 37.5% abv Tesco voddy, from a current £10.98 a litre.
In practice the poorest and unhealthiest families will become even poorer and more unhealthy. As their booze costs more, they will give up fresh fruit and veg, fish and proper cooking and live on biscuits and Iceland 99p pizzas as long as they have a few tinnies of Stella or bottles of WKD to wash it down. Their children will grow up with rickets and ringworm. We'll go right back to the 1920s in a perfect example of regressive Socialist doctrine.
And the village pub, so long a fixture of our society and people, a local institution that does more to foster community cohesion, build social capital and combat social exclusion than the efforts of every Nanny State worker combined, will become history.
The House of Commons Health Select Committee has just published a report (.pdf) that has found that this government has pissed away billions in failed social engineering experiments; rafts of knee-jerk measures that cost the earth and have had no overall effect whatsoever. In fact, health inequalities have widened - by 4% amongst men and 11% amongst women, since 1998.
If these cloistered fools ever once asked themselves why people drink to excess they might just find that it's the escape that many have from the suffocating, cloying, overweening, intrusive, impertinent and unwelcome interference of Labour's Nanny State in the minutae of their lives rather than the cost per unit that's the more important factor. But that's a lesson these idiots will never learn.