The Demon Drink

Baroness Murphy

Hogarth's Gin Lane

I like a drink, especially good wine. I recently gave up alcohol for ten days after returning from Italy, an annual penance that I feel does me good. I find alcohol a relaxant, makes me feel convivial and an instant endorphin producer. And I’d better own up to the fact that I once owned half of a brewery and was a significant shareholder in a gin distillery. (You could say I live on gin). So I’m sympathetic to the vast majority of people who also enjoy it and recognize what a valuable role it can play in society. But we have to face facts. Drinking to excess in Britain has risen in the past 50 years. As the price has gone down drinking to excess has gone up. When the culture of heavy drinking is acceptable, as it is among many sections of society, then price is the key determinant on whether someone will drink to excess. The price of beer and cider has fallen by about 30 per cent in real terms since 1990, while wine and spirits have fallen by about 20 per cent. As earnings have risen, alcohol is within everyone’s reach, less than a pound now for a bottle of Eurofizz lager or cheap cider bought at below cost from supermarkets selling as a loss leader.

As Sir Liam Donaldson, the former Chief Medical Officer said last year, cheap alcohol is “killing us as never before”. He said that the nation was blighted by “passive drinking”, with innocent bystanders the collateral damage of drunk drivers, domestic violence and antisocial behaviour. Hospital admissions involving people with an alcohol-related disease are up 69 per cent since 2003 and will soon reach a million annually. Liver disease shows a fivefold increase in the under-65s in the past 30 years and almost all of this increased morbidity is due to alcohol.

Donaldson wanted to introduce a minimum price of 50p a unit of alcohol, the immediate benefit would be 3,393 fewer deaths each year, 97,900 fewer hospital admissions and 45,800 fewer crimes. The Government rejected it, and I do not have much hope that the Coalition will face up to the powerful antipathetic lobbies of the drinks industry. The solution is staring us in the face as it did in the 18th century when the effect of gin on the working population was devastating.

In 1729 Parliament increased the tax on gin and this led to ill feeling in the working classes and ultimately to the gin riots . (Is this what the Government fears?) The government responded by reducing duties and penalties, claiming that moderate measures would be easier to enforce.  But Gin drinking continued to be a problem and by the 1740s the British were consuming 8,000,000 gallons a year. In 1751 the government took action and greatly increased duties on gin. The sale by distillers and shopkeepers was strictly controlled and these measures successfully reduced the consumption of gin in Britain.

Put the price of alcohol up to where it was twenty years ago and the problem would more or less be solved. Changing culture will take far too long, we are northern Europeans not southern European in our attitudes to drink. Someone will tell me that putting the price up would encourage smuggling (true) and that we can’t be so out of kilter with the rest of Europe. Why not? Even a small fiscal change would help us tackle the problem.

47 comments for “The Demon Drink

  1. Dave H
    01/09/2010 at 6:07 pm

    I favour allowing people to drink responsibly, but to find ways to punish those who misbehave, whether it be financially or by getting them to do community service (with further sanctions for those who don’t comply). So no need to put prices up, just deal with those who abuse it. It’s about time we taught people about personal responsibility after losing a generation to the nanny state.

  2. Lord Blagger
    01/09/2010 at 7:50 pm

    It’s none of your business.

    You’ve refused to deal with fraud in the Lords, and now you want to control what people drink and presumable eat.

    When will you get it into your head that more laws are not needed?

    We have at least 6 layers of government in the UK.

    Parish councils, local councils, county councils, regional assemblies, parliaments, the lords, the EU and the EU commission in various combinations.

    All designed to tell people what to do and order them around. At the same time siphoning off money into politicians pockets.

    Since you can’t control yourselves, and object to people doing so, isn’t it time you stopped doing the same to others?

    • David C
      11/09/2011 at 8:29 pm

      Hear hear Lord Blagger!

  3. Lord Blagger
    01/09/2010 at 7:54 pm

    At the same time you’re proposing more taxes (the standard solution for everything), you’re enjoying cheap drink in subsidised bars in the Lords.

    ie. You prepared to cause fiscal damage to other people, because you’re immune from its effects. It’s only the little people who pay taxes on their drink, isn’t it?

    Interestly, the MPs quango for their expenses has show this up. Expose politicians to the reality of their own laws, and they get up in arms. We’ve had to suffer it for ages. We have to pick up the bill.

    Another example is the law that you’ve passed. The one tucked away at the end of a pensions bill (Not a finance bill so you get to vote), which gave MPs tax haven status on their expenses.

    Another example of taxes for the little people, a cheap subsidised round for all the politicians who’ve passed the law.

    01/09/2010 at 7:58 pm

    ALCOHOL is a depressant, actually. It is taken by people who are depressed, though, because it anesthetizes them. It makes them feel numb, blotting out the frustrating emptiness they feel.

    The best way to overcome this is to fix the Philosophical and moral problems that we face as a society. Pity you want to make that all the harder because the solutions won’t fit into the “Rationalism” approach you take.

    Still, I would suggest that the reason for the increase in alcohol consumption over the last 50 years is not smokey because of the price, but also because more and more people tend to walk away from that which is most true and meaningful in life to embrace the assume shallow Humanist perspective, that simply put leads to anxiety and depression, even if this is not acknowledged.

    Yiur Secular, liberal society won’t solve this problem, because by and large it IS the problem. Alcohol itself is not the problem, rather the reason peopel turn to drink in the first place is.

    Get rid of that, and there would be a great decline in Alcohol consumption.

    But then again you seem to want to look down on peopel who do get rid of that, and think them less Rational than yourself. Less developed. Less able.

    But hey, I don’t drink at all, so, can’t be that bad. I also have no STD’s, no unplanned Children whom cause problems in my life, and none of the other social ills we face.

    I know several others who also don’t, pity they are all irrational too. Obviously there solution won’t work.

    Must be something else that allows it.

  5. 01/09/2010 at 9:49 pm

    How much ill=effect aggravated by the ‘dumping’ of literally-poisonous bogus known-brands of alcohol such as Vodka but cheap, on many other markets not just in Britain, reportedly by rogue label-forgers in China ?

    (I have for decades been a very-very low alcoholic-drink consumer, and may be now at 80+ susceptible to gout; so I.m ‘in the clear’; but my hsckles go up at not just those foreign ‘infiltrative-social-and-personal health & lifestyle saboteurs, but aainst our own Governance and Education Experts, Legislators, and Powers-that-Be such as the Media and especially the BBC (for not maximising exposure of such growing and very-threagtening Problems).
    I felt the need to have my reasoning and life-eperience voice ‘heard’ somewhere y sober-minded people and politician s, so I launched by own little website ( ) which began with a recommendation to always have three portable bottles of drinking water at hand: one at one’s bedside, one by one Computer-workstation doubling beside one’s TV armchair, and one in one daily-rucsac or briefcase.

    ne an always gain ‘stimulation’ or a ‘refreshment-feeling’ from also having a bottle of Tonic-water, or Lucozade Lemon; actually I havere-discovered Ginger beer, and a’new’ no-added-sugar Dandelion-and-Burdock ‘fizzy’… (the story has further potential, for one and all I feel sure).

    Here’s a Good-Health to you !

  6. 02/09/2010 at 2:05 am

    Baroness Murphy,

    Market hard to China. If the Chinese start to demand any product strongly sheer numbers will drive up demand beyond supply and increase prices for at least a few years.

  7. Troika21
    02/09/2010 at 2:27 am

    The price of alcohol is not the problem, I simply don’t understand why this is always brought up. Its seen as a cure-all.

    I believe that the trend towards increased drinking and the lowering of price are related, however they are the other way round to what you have stated. The drop in price is a reaction to a changing culture that values quantity over quality and where drinking to excess has become tradition.

    As a matter of culture it can be challenged. If we want people to stop drinking to excess then there are ways to do this without punishing everyone, ripping a hole in others wallets and changing the nature of our society for the better.

    For example, clubs are places that are very adept at selling alcohol, so make them less effective and require them to diversify their portfolio of income into areas that will cause less drinking, food mainly I suppose.

  8. Croft
    02/09/2010 at 10:38 am

    “Donaldson wanted to introduce a minimum price of 50p a unit of alcohol….In 1729 Parliament increased the tax on gin and this led to ill feeling in the working classes and ultimately to the gin riots . (Is this what the Government fears?)”

    Nope. The EU has made it quite clear they will prosecute any government introducing such pricing.

  9. Baroness Murphy
    Baroness Murphy
    02/09/2010 at 12:24 pm

    No solutions forthcoming from anyone? Dave H, I also favour allowing people to drink responsibly…any ideas about the rest?
    Lord Blagger, yes it’s my business, and yours. How about a few constructive notions from you for once? My sympathies.
    Zarove, so we need to find a way back to the Garden of Eden. I just fear it will take a long time….
    JSDM, you’ve solved it for yourself but that doesn’t much help either.
    Frank WSlll. I fear the Chinese know all about how to make alcohol and they are much more likely to sell it here to us cheaper than ever than us sell it to them.
    Troika 21, your analysis flies in the face of common sense; we’ve known about the effect of pricing on consumption very accurately for decades…the tax man needs an accurate estimate to decide when fiscal uplift counteracts revenue income.
    Croft, We are part of the EU aren’t we? There are exceptions made and exceptions taken by EU countries who have special problems with legislation. I am often told a thing can’t be done because of the EU then find to my surprise it has been done using another piece of legislation. So we plod on exhorting young people to nice behaviour?

    It’s perfectly true politicians don’t need to intervene at all in the price of alcohol, we could take all the taxes off and it would be even cheaper. Good idea?

    • Croft
      02/09/2010 at 1:10 pm

      Certainly derogations are available in a number of areas – I’m not sure price fixing is one of them though I’m open to correction. However you can be sure that the price for the EU agreeing – if derogation is possible – will probably be pretty unpalatable politically.

      Personally I think off-licences (which includes supermarkets the real discounters) should be have a big ‘crime a social disorder’ levy – which would help fund the police dealing with alcohol related crime (most binge drinkers now pre-load before they go to the clubs/pubs on cheap booze). This would be legal and have a knock on price impact while also supporting the responsible pub trade by equalising prices and policing costs.

  10. 02/09/2010 at 1:01 pm

    Lord Blagger, yes it’s my business, and yours. How about a few constructive notions from you for once? My sympathies.


    What I do with my money and my mouth is my business so long as I do not cause harm to someone else.

    Likewise for you.

    However, what you want is to control what other people do with their money and their mouth. That’s wrong. It’s a fascist approach where you want to control what other people do.

    When you use my money to put free or subsidised drinks in your mouth, its wrong. Particularly when you use threats and force to extract that cash.

    It’s even more wrong, because you do not allow me any say in that money. You take it, and spend it on yourself. You don’t get us the opportunity to say, no, we don’t want to subsidise your drinking.

    After all, if its wrong to drink and drive, why isn’t it illegal to drink and legistlate?

    Drunk as a lord has more truth to it than you might have us believe.

  11. Troika21
    02/09/2010 at 1:14 pm

    Baroness Murphy, I believe that my analysis has merit. It is just as likely that the drinks industry has responded to the desire to get drunk over drinking quality products by switching to mass-produced drinks that can be sold at a cheaper price.

    Yes, I accept that raising the price of something will make fewer people do it, but I’d argue that the successful anti-smoking campaign is what has driven people towards drinking. If we raise the price of alcohol then what will replace it? What will we push people towards? Not to mention that there will be inventive ways round any price rise.

    I did mention some suggestions for dealing with the culture of drinking to excess, but heres a more fleshed-out list.

    Require anywhere that serves alcohol to diversify their income portfolio away from being mainly alcohol, towards other things, the best would be food, which would cause drink to have a less intoxicating affect.

    Do something similar with supermarkets, prevent them from offering promotional offers on drinks, instead tie them to food.

    Allow the police to search anyone who is drunk and behaving irresponsibly for recipts, or get a list of card purchases, and then fine all the businesses that have sold alcohol to that person.

    I’m sure there are other ways of dealing with this problem, rather than a puritianical punishing of everyone.

  12. 02/09/2010 at 1:18 pm

    Baroness Murphy,
    You have aptly described the probabilities. Nonetheless, Champagne because of its limits has seen prices go up due to Chinese demand. Perhaps with English gin it is possible too.

  13. Dave H
    02/09/2010 at 1:59 pm

    We could bring back the stocks in the market square for those who are obnoxiously drunk. Added bonus of a boost in tomato sales for the market traders.

    I hesitate to just declare a week in the cells and a fine to pay for the upkeep for those found to be anti-social while under the influence because we probably don’t have enough spare space. I guess we could use the traditional seaside boarding houses so beloved of old comedians as an alternative. Those stern-faced and prim landladies were a match for the worst.

    I guess my problem comes down to not wanting to set up a whole new bureaucratic organisation to deal with punishing offenders, but making sure they suffer some unpleasantness as a result of their actions without penalising their families, who are probably already suffering from the effects of the drink.

  14. 02/09/2010 at 2:43 pm

    Baroness Murphy:
    So, nothing you and all your highly expert governance, medical, police, economics, trade, eeducational, and ‘intelligence’ mates have said is doing any good; so you’ve come to us, and found that nothing we are saying is good enough either.
    ====================== .
    Such self-acclaiming Expertise as your Upper-Classes try to shore yourselves up in should be able to see a Need,to figure out How that need might best be met, and ensure that is all both Cost-Effective and Cost-Afforable; shouldn’t you ?

    From my submission alone you shoujld have been able to recognise the Global-Economics Crime AND the British Governmental coomplicitude-malfeasance therein, of allowing poisoned ersatz alcoholic drinks under forged labels to be imported from abroad (China)and freely distributed and drunk by large numbers of trusting British citizens all over the UK; and having seen that Problem to be able to at least begin formulating the components of Need to include:
    1. Put out an immediate and recurring RED public warning via every TV and Radio channel that “Certain drinks under forged labels are unfit for human-consumption and have been found (by the BMA whatever) to be causing sickness, disablement, and death.”
    2. Have the Emergency services scrambled on a combined-operations basis to seek out and impound all such drinks; then bill the offending supply-country osts in doing all this. (Far fairer and more humane and legitimate than the Chinese government when in Tianjenmin Square they shot down many seriously-concerned Chinese students literally in cold blood, and then sent the bill for the bullets to those murdered students’ parents !)
    3. Notify all drinks-outlets to have all drinks tested and approval-stamped before selling them, otherwise to ‘freeze’ them and assign them to the British Government.

    Other steps can be thought of too by my pat-grade which is <£300 per week.

    4. The elements of a safe-drinking lifestyle more affordable, much less risky, and certainly more 'hea;thy' than an alcohol-inclusive lifestyle, were also given in my submission (three bottles of drinkiung water, no-sugar-added Dandelion & Burdock, Ginger beer, Lucozade lemon, Indian tonic water for instance) which both as a British governance high-up and a responsibly-altruistic ordinary human-being, you should have promoted rather than poo-pooed.
    But let me sift through all the other detectable positive intimations that could be found amolngst all the other comments and replies…….

    but first I need to go and take a drink of clean water, have a clean-water body-wash, and a slow 'doing-my-own-health-stretching-and-shrinking somewhere safe' (obviously elsewhere than at the Lords of the Blog).


  15. ladytizzy
    02/09/2010 at 4:10 pm

    If a gvt wants to justify a tax hike on alcohol it will need to bring drinkers of alcohol on board. Ever since it was revealed that the original guidelines on safe alcohol drinking limits was, at least, partly based on guesswork it is hardly surprising that boozers are suspicious and unwilling to listen. It is already incredibly difficult for a gvt of any hue to convince large number of sceptics that its policies on, say, smoking or climate change, was born from anything but a tax grab.

    I get that prohibition didn’t work and, similarly, “small” fiscal changes will not stop the rot but rather would go towards the financing of the NHS. If a gvt is seriously concerned then the shock and awe of quadrupling or more of duty on alcohol will have more effect on reducing consumption than the drip-drip tax capture associated with tobacco; the rise in cigarette duty over the years is less a statement of intent, more a way of smokers paying for health insurance.

    Other challenges include the trade in fine wines and spirits, from the Scottish whisky industry to the auctions of vintages. Part of a substantial hike on the price of alcohol could help fund solving the technical issue of producing a pleasing, alcohol-free, beer/cider/wine that currently causes it to be more expensive than the standard fare.

    Solutions other than tax? Part of the problem is how drinkers go about identifying a unit. How about restricting supermarket sales of alcohol to one unit miniatures? Or, bottles that incorporate an optic, allowing one unit at a time to be poured?

    Also, bring back the pubs that were within walking distance of most homes (and, yes, bring back the smoking salons – every solution brings its own problems). It was always cheaper to drink at home but that wasn’t the point of the local.

    PS Give up alcohol in Italy rather than the UK – it would help with the small fiscal changes at home. 🙂
    PPS Will you please look into the issue of academic journals putting up internet paywalls on research? Thanks.

  16. ZAROVE
    02/09/2010 at 6:37 pm

    It’d take less long if we’d give up this whole “Rationalist” perspective that basically robs people of any real meanign in life, which is the point. Modern Culture is to blame and modern Culture rest s on the Religious conviction that is predominant. Even for those who say “I am not Religious”, they still have that “Hypothesis” that they see the world through.

    If you want the Drink Culture to end, then take away the reason why people Drink. You don’t do that with Laws, you do that by a changes of Hearts and Minds. You don’t change hearts and minds by repeating the same failed, and obviously wrong, Philosophical assumptions that lead them to Drink in the first place.

    People drink because it prevents them from having to feel. They drink to excess to mask the fact that they don’t feel anythign worth feeling inside, they are depressed and miserable at how meaningless their lives are. This is the direct result of the Philosophical ideals of Humanism that are ever so present today.

    So rather than closing Faith Schools and making sure everyone “Gets a grip on ideas’ by making them parrot only the Secular humanist ideals, why not try some new form of thinking about the issues and give people, I don’t know, actual meanign in their lives?

    I’d bet people would appreciate it better if the ideas that counter Secularism aren’t attacked routinely, and it’d improve lives as it always does.

    And f the Revivals are anythign to go by in the past, it doesn’t take a long time to make positive impact. Just like how things rapidly declined, they can rapidly improve.

    They just won’t with the current beliefs being Promoted in our Culture, because the problem is the beliefs we have as a Culture. Beliefs which go against our True Nature. In the end, Nature will be served, one way or another.

  17. 02/09/2010 at 9:42 pm

    Baroness Murphy

    I rather feel I should repeat the point I put to Lord Norton about drugs: it rather feels as if the government isn’t against us doing things that are bad for us as much as it is against us doing things that are bad for us and that we also might enjoy.

    Drink and drugs and cigarettes and back-alley shags are not supply problems. People go and find cheap sources of pleasure because people enjoy things which are pleasurable. When resources are tight and life is generally hard all over, booze and drugs and other cheap escape routes are what the working class does and always has done in order to dull the intense displeasure we all feel through having to graft away in a call centre for minimum wage.

    Since we are not going to get higher wages, shorter hours and better living conditions any time soon – it would “distort” the market, dontchaknow, even if it would improve the health and wellbeing of the nation – what makes you think that the drive to get off our faces on booze is going away any time soon?

    Thus the first question is, really, who exactly are you, Baroness “once owned a gin distillery”, to tell the proles that they cannot take the edge off their unemployment or their crap, soul destroying job, by having a *drink*?

    The second question is, of course, are you aware that Hogarth was a propagandist, not a historian dedicated to accuracy? The counterpart to Gin Lane was, of course, Beer Street, which showed the prosperity and good health that would inevitably follow if one would only drink ale. The upper classes have a cyclical habit of getting attacks of the vapours about the boozing habits of commoners, but it’s funny how they never seem to spot their own class filters when decreeing moral judgement. Gin is, of course, now a common but at least somewhat sophisticated drink, a ladies tipple or one for the classier gent. Cheap, imported lager in tins, on the other hand, is something no toff would ever drink, and as such it can get wheeled out by Captain Eton at PMQs as an example of “bad” booze.

    The third question is, just which aspects of drinking are supposed to be curtailed by the minimum price policy? 50p a unit would make this 330ml bottle of cobra next to me cost appx 85p, or £3.40 a four pack. Or about 40p more than it currently costs. A pint of beer, a double vodka-lemonade, a glass of wine all currently cost more than 50p per unit in a bar.

    It’s not going to touch, in other words, people who go out drinking, since they’re already paying £2-5 a pint, depending on whether they live in London and/or know where the Sam Smiths pubs are or not. It will affect people who buy a bottle of wine to drink quietly at home, or a crate of lagers for the afternoon barbecue, i.e. not the kind of environment which creates crowds of drunken people staggering around the streets at 3am (unless it was a particularly good barbecue). Alcoholics unable to get their fix of Special Brew will, as always, beg, steal, or switch to turps, since yet again that is not a supply issue – people do not become alcoholics because they have access to a cheaper supply of stronger alcohol than the rest of the world.

    So, what difference is this policy going to make, other than upsetting people and convincing them that the government is staffed full of clueless, meddling toffs?

  18. 03/09/2010 at 12:22 am


    You might not like the humanist or rationalist ideals, but since we are not German, would you mind approaching the somewhat more mundane ideals about correct capitalisation of words?

  19. Lord Soley
    Clive Soley
    03/09/2010 at 3:16 pm

    Baroness Murphy. I tend to agree with you about the impact of price but the latest figures showing a 6% drop in alcohol consumption might indicate that the present publicity and policies are working.

    • Croft
      03/09/2010 at 3:24 pm

      Consumption also dropped at the start of the 1980s and the 1990s – both in recession periods.

  20. baronessmurphy
    03/09/2010 at 4:30 pm

    Surely the 6% recent drop in consumption simply proves my point; it was directly associated with a real decline in consumer spending. Price fixing has the merits of simplicity and it affects everyone who drinks.
    Several people talk about the joys of the simple working man and his drink..not to be interfered with etc….but hasn’t anyone got memories of a totally different drinking culture from their own childhoods? It didn’t feel all that deprived to grow up in a less drunken society.
    Putting the price up is not about stopping anyone drinking, it’s about getting people to moderate their consumption slightly, mostlt unconsciously and its not just ‘them’ I’m talking about, it’s ‘us’ too. Far less a draconian solution than the punishments proposed by some of you. McDuff, it’s not the meddling toffs who can’t go into their city centres at night for fear of the drunken brawling, it’s not meddling toffs who are the victims of pub knife fights. There is a case of course for Government to do nothing about social ills; before the mid 1800s government didn’t think it was their business. I can’t see us going back to that state of laissez faire.

    I’m not sure whether people are saying excessive drinking is a problem, or not a problem. We should just let people get on with it then? Trouble is its you and me who pay out of our taxes for all the accidents and those million NHS admissions per year.

    Lady Tizzy, you’ve put down a challenge re research on the internet. I’ll tackle that sometime soon…

  21. ZAROVE
    03/09/2010 at 7:29 pm

    Mcduff, I am a Rationalist myself. What I dont like is how Secular Humanists like

    Baroness Murphy appropriate the term “Rationalist’ to suit her own agenda. She acts as if to be rational one has to believe in everything she does, and has even stated that her goal is to try to close done Faith Schools in order to make sure people learn only her perspective. Though she couches it in terms of protecting social cohesion and giving Children the ability to get a grip on ideas, something she can’t rally explain why cant happening a Faith School, other than to assume that somehow learning from a perspective thats not Humanist is somehow automatically going to halt your ability to think.

    I have no problems with the Rationalist perspective. I do have a problem with Baroness Murphey’s.

    In the end she wants to add more taxes, add more laws, and try to use this to force people into her wonderful utopia. She also takes offense when people challenge her on this, and feels they insult her, even if shes just got done ridiculing what they believe in, as if thats not hurling insults.

    As to caps, I’m dyslexic, its hard enough to bother with getting the words spelled right.

  22. 03/09/2010 at 7:55 pm

    There is a huge generic as well as ‘academic’, ‘formal-language’. and ‘politically-correct’ stuff.

    It was once widely taught, certainly in the regular army, that to emphasise a word or passage, it must be underlined or put into capital lettering.

    The explosion of the Internet has drowned all such good sense under the single DICTATE “never use capitals, that is SHOUTING”.

    Is there a new Global-World guidebook, by some recognised global-authority such as the United Nations, on such basic essentials for good, clear. unequivocal communication ?


    • 04/09/2010 at 12:56 pm

      The Chicago Manual of Style is a good one. Of course, no stylebook can help you write a clear paragraph if the thought behind it is muddled.

      • 06/09/2010 at 1:55 pm

        I think we are almost always opposed historically. I want to take this chance to commend your choice of stylebooks. The great orange tome is a beauty indeed. However, I must say that style books were less written for blog posts than anything else – I have certainly ruined my reputation for spelling since coming to LOTB, I also recommend for those staggered by the price, Kate Turabian’s styleboook which is cheaper and easier to master and to which I have institutional loyalties since we have ties to some of the same universities. Nonetheless, I am sincere in praising the Orange Bible of Prose and have owned two copies myself (and two of KT’s as well) none of which are available to me now.

  23. ZAROVE
    04/09/2010 at 10:22 am

    The problem,JSDM, is that the OP is following an essentially Marxist view that Economics drives Humanity, when in fact it doesn’t.

    As Lord Soley has already noted, a 6% drop has occurred thanks to advertising. if the Government would promote proper morals (Not the useless Politically correct, ever-popular Secularist drivel) this matter would go the way of Cigarettes.

    Change peoples behaviour by changing their perspective. Hey, she wants to close Faith Schools in order to promote her shallow Secular Humanist beliefs by ensuring there is no competition at all, all based on the lie that Faith Schools destroy Social Cohesion and prevent Children from properly learning, so why not try to be more productive and tackle the Drink problem via the same general method. Only this time theres real evidence that the Drink Culture is a problem. However, you still have to root out the cause of why people drink, which brings us back to Worldviews. Thinking its all economics is simply daft.

    • 04/09/2010 at 1:01 pm

      We get it, religion can save us all, we’re such fearful sinners and our mortal pleasures are just false and hollow substitutes for the real joy and peace and fulfillment we could get if we aligned ourselves with whatever spiritual or philosophical set of values you happen to be selling.

      And now that it’s established that we understand your single point well enough to summarise it in a paragraph – something you might wish to try – would you mind, perhaps, taking a break from constantly repeating it? It’s not that we don’t understand. It’s that we’re ignoring you.

    • 05/09/2010 at 11:23 pm

      Thank you. Zarove;
      As long as “To each according to need” takes first priority and not “From each according to ability” I am quite happy with Marxism; but

      my primary requisite is that we do not support any kind of Fallacious governance, economics, education or religion;

      and that goes for “Faith” schools too.
      Economics has long been failing to correct its basic equation-ing, which in brief is that the Earth’s economic lifesupports are for ever going up and up, ‘proved’ by the GDP and Stockmarket long-term charts, when in point of fact they are going down and down, too-largely because of PhD-land error hand-in-hand with worldwide malfeasant governance (within which latter I have to include Religions and Educations, as well as isms such as Marxism which fail to set sustain-worthy limits).


  24. 04/09/2010 at 12:54 pm

    Baroness Murphy

    “McDuff, it’s not the meddling toffs who can’t go into their city centres at night for fear of the drunken brawling, it’s not meddling toffs who are the victims of pub knife fights. “

    Good of you to admit that. Is that why you didn’t address the point that the vast majority, if not all, city centre alcohol costs more than 50p/unit at present, and that this price fixing regime would therefore not alter the economics of the situation even a single jot? Is it because the toffs are so out of touch that they keep presenting “solutions” that won’t work to “problems” they fail to understand?

    I am also flabbergasted at the appeal to common histories from a Baroness, frankly. While I am sure there were some bootstraps in your history I’m willing to bet there were no council estates. Let us assume, for the sake of saving everybody embarrassment, that that the drinking habits of the proletariat weren’t the sole distinction between your less deprived childhood and everyone else’s. My own father’s childhood, for example, involved an alcoholic and abusive father despite it happening back in the good old days when booze was pricey and the family didn’t have much in the way of pots to piss in. Violent drunks buy booze no matter how expensive it is. Pricey booze just means there’s even less money to spend on food.

    As for whether it’s a problem or not, I offer a resounding shrug. The problem is that people are stuck in crap jobs earning crap money under a crap government who tells them that they should accept how crap it is. So they drink. Or do drugs. Or turn to religion, like Zarove. Or, otherwise, do something that takes the edge off how crap their lives are. And, as I have mentioned, both poverty and long working hours are problems from a national health perspective. We pay for the outcomes of those from taxation as well. First, I’d suggest that if the goverment attempted to get shorter hours and bigger pies that the problem wouldn’t be so bad. But, if it still was, it might have more of a moral leg to stand on. As it is, the message seems to be that we are only allowed to be unhealthy in ways that we don’t enjoy and which don’t cause the profit margins of the wealthy to shrink too much. If we wish to slowly die in ways that are miserable and profitable, without kicking up a fuss or being too visibly common, well, that’s perfectly fine.

    Shorter hours and bigger pies, or failing that, let us have our damned drinks, Baroness.

  25. baronessmurphy
    05/09/2010 at 10:08 am

    Zarove, A plea, can I be ‘you’ rather than ‘she’? You are using a technique often used in parliament to oppose without confronting but we don’t need to do that here. Look, I don’t want to change your faith/beliefs/ ideas, why should you be so upset about mine? The answer of course is that’s the human condition. We can’t all be right.

    • 06/09/2010 at 11:15 am

      I suspect it’s because your faith/beliefs/ideas directly attack the power base from which he can indoctrinate the children of others with his own faith/belief/ideas. You never rile a religious obsessive more than when you threaten to take other people’s children away from them.

    • 07/09/2010 at 1:51 am

      ‘There’s no such word as “can’t” ‘.

      Actually, we can (all be right).

      I spare the details.

  26. ZAROVE
    06/09/2010 at 8:24 pm

    Baroness Murphy, you want to change the beliefs of everyone.

    You want to force people into accepting Homosexuality on the ludicrous notion that its just like Race. You don’t care about Conscience or belief when it comes to Homosexuality, as you force people into accepting Homosexuality. IE, if a Civil Servant doesn’t want to perform a Same Sex Union, you’d Force them to.

    But beyond Public Sector employees, if someone owns a house or has a spare room they want t rent out, and will rent to a Married couple, you want to force them to rent to a Gay Couple too. Or if a Printer owns a Print shop, he must Print pro-gay pamphlets if asked to, else he’s “Discriminating on the basis of Sexual Orientation”. His morals don’t matter, only yours do.

    The SOR’s prove you don’t care about peoples moral objections.

    Look at “Religious Education: An Oxymoron”. You basically say that Faith Schools can’t really teach anything. Children do not get a Grip on ideas and can’t learn to think for themselves. You also lie, outright, about social Cohesion being at risk from them, all in order to make sure they can be closed and Children then brought into the State Schools were lo and behold they will be taught to “Think of themselves” by parroting your beliefs back at you.

    As I said elsewhere, you won’t call anyone a Free Thinker if they are “Religious” , only the Nonreligious like you are Free thinkers. Only the Nonreligious like you are Rational.

    You had the Audacity to claim that you respect Religion as the “Hopes and Dreams of Humankind”, a Phrase that has no real meaning, but sounds nice, after bashing it as Gobbledegoop, and claiming belief in God was like believing the earth is flat and Fairies live at the bottom of Gardens. That’s respect?

    Religion to you is Theism, that’s why an Agnostic, I did not say Atheist, like you isn’t Religious. This is in spite of the fact that the definition of Religion you posted yourself says you are Religious because you have a set of beliefs about the nature, cause, and purpose of existence.

    You use the “I am not Religious” card in order to allow the moral strength of your mauves though. If you admit your religious then your just forcing your Religion onto others and everyone knows that’s wrong. Somehow forcing “Logic and reason” isn’t… its for everyone’s own good, after all.

    In regard to the schools, you’d teach Children your sexual Ethics. Homosexuality is a natural, normal Variant of Human sexuality, and innate, something that one is born with and cannot change. This would be taught to impressionable Children.

    So would “Safe sex” and “Sexual experimentation” As normal and Healthy, because that’s why YOU believe in. The parents don’t matter.

    You’d teach Children your views of Society, Democracy, and Equality. You’d teach them to accept YOUR ideas.

    While I am not a Creationist I don’t think we should say a Creationist Father has to send his son to a School that will call his beliefs “Idiocy”. Or that will emphasis its not science and not real by moving it to the other side of the building if its allowed in at all. I certainly don’t think all Parents who morally object to your views of Sexuality should be forced to have their Children taught your view of it. I don’t think Children should learn the Social Values of Equality, as you define it, either. I don’t think that people need to be forced by law to send their Children to a School which may well teach their Children Values they personally oppose, just because you want to pretend its all about Equality and giving them a proper education and getting them to think for themselves. Its not, its about Indoctrinating them into your beliefs to create that wonderful Utopia you imagine.

    And now with Drink it’s the same thing. You want to use Social Engineering to solve what is ultimately a Societal problem.

    You can’t. Your actually the Cause of the problem with your need to control everyone, and your instilling in them of your nihilistic and ultimately useless Ideological principle that teaches them their lives have no real meaning.

    If you want Drinking alcohol to decline, then allow those silly, idiotic Faiths to do their Jobs. If an Atheists like Troika wants to set up his own Counter Drink Campaign, well, the more the merrier. Where groups agree they can work together on their own, without the need of Government intervention. Just like Parents can see to their Children’s education and should have a choice in the Schools they go to, and don’t need to learn only from the Humanist perspective to get a proper education. Just like people can decide how to use their own property.

    All I ask is that you stop trying to bully people into what you want them to do, and most importantly think.

    Oh and don’t pretend you respect me or my beliefs. I got plenty enough sight of that respect when you spoke only to other Atheists. And I didn’t say Agnostic for a reason.

    • 06/09/2010 at 11:37 pm

      It’s always fun to watch someone fall completely off the deep end like this.

      *round of applause*

      7.9 for style, old bean, even if the technique still left a bit to be desired.

    • 06/09/2010 at 11:43 pm

      Incidentally, has anybody seen who it is that Zarove is arguing with here? Because to call what he’s doing an example of the “straw man” fallacy would be to underplay the slightly disturbing psychological aspects of his tirades.

      Not that I’m suggesting he’s really a danger to anyone except, perhaps, himself, but there does seem to be an increased chance that some monitor, somewhere has a coating of spittle flecks that it didn’t have before.

  27. ZAROVE
    07/09/2010 at 9:14 pm

    Baroness Murphy, McDuff represents your wonderful secular, nonreligious future.

    See how well I’m treated by him? Thats how well you treated me too.

    In that sense, may I ask how that should make me feel like an equal member of society?

    Or should I change my beliefs to reflect the new and improves “Nonreligious” beliefs that an advanced Democracy must have?

    Think about it, for a change.

    • 08/09/2010 at 11:05 am

      I’m the future? Does this mean we’re in for a future where people pricked pompous windbags without regard for the sanctity of their religious belief and who care not one scrap of dingo’s kidney for the effusive moralising of jumped-up cogs in the religious propaganda machine who haven’t the self-awareness to work out that their personal hurt feelings aren’t the same as a global crash of goodness and decency?

      If the worst you have to suffer at the hands of us filthy godless heretical secular humanist rationalist devils is that we exhibit a healthy disregard for people who stand on their soap box and repeat tired old nostrums about how we must all turn to religion or be forever lost to immorality, well, welcome to what democracy means! The freedom to be mocked for voicing your ridiculous opinion is a venerable one in this country.

  28. Senex
    07/09/2010 at 10:11 pm

    Parliament today cannot constitutionally represent the people on taxation. I leave it to the reader to work out just what ‘tax’ is payable by volume of product on their favourite tipple containing ethyl alcohol.

    When VAT is applied at the point of sale you pay a tax on something that has already been excise taxed. This is again taxed when you have paid income tax on the money you spent. In fact when you buy anything containing excise duty you are effectively triple taxed.

    At home we buy a years supply of wines at one go usually in France with a saving of around 400 GBP. As the French exchequer receives the duty plus VAT but not any income tax we technically enjoy double taxation instead of triple taxation by buying abroad.

    Now BM is the blog’s head doctor in clinical psychiatry. She mentions those ‘happy messengers’ in the biogenic amine/endorphin system but fails to tell us of the ‘sad messengers’ that fill the stressful boring monotonous lives of those that sensibly choose to have an alcoholic drink to lighten their mood and relax tensions.

    Society has two choices: to allow the possibility of a prospective chemical addiction to alcohol as an abuse by tolerating sensible pricing of alcoholic beverages or it can make alcohol so expensive that people will turn to other more focused and addictive means of generating those ‘happy messengers’ and without paying any excise duty or VAT. It might on the other hand lead to a nation of clinically depressed very sad people in need of constant medication from the NHS. Should such people be allowed to vote?

    Ref: BN61; 24 March 2010 – Alcohol Duty: Rates
    HMEXSH5020 – Guide to calculating excise duty: Beer
    HMEXSH5030 – Guide to calculating excise duty: Spirits
    Brain Chemical Messengers

  29. Baroness Murphy
    Baroness Murphy
    10/09/2010 at 3:50 pm

    McDuff, where did you get the notion from I was born a toff?
    Practically all my relatives lived in council houses except my own parents who struggled out of their own working class backgrounds by sheer hard work and the advantage of brains. They couldn’t afford university of course. I grew up in a working class suburb of Nottingham, my closest aunts and uncles lived in back to backs in the poorer quarter aand never did reach the top of the council list. Nottingham was a pretty grim place to be poor. If I’m a toff now it’s because you’ve decided I am but knowing a fair number of toffs in the Lords I don’t think they’d agree I fall into that category. I agree with you that we need our pleasures to deaden the daily round; but I still believe almost no-one would notice a fractional rise in the price of alcohol and yet consumption and its consequences would fall.
    But keep up the good work for us secularists please, so nice not to have to join in when you’re doing such a great job.

    • 13/09/2010 at 10:59 pm

      Perhaps toff was inaccurate. However, there’s a certain class that generally gets to own breweries and distilleries, and “working” is not that class.

      If nobody would notice it, how would consumption fall? Surely consumption would only fall if people noticed it enough to buy less of it? Or did I miss the part where the magical economics fairy walked in and made supply and demand happen without the intervention of individual actors in the economy?

  30. Joshua Rathbone
    26/09/2010 at 5:29 pm

    I am a 17 year old and I for one would heartily support a rise in drink prices; the alcohol abuse by my peers that I have experienced is not always that destructive- we muddle on through- however it is the rampant exclamation of an early friday evening of “guess how much I got for my £15” that is most worrying; if it is possible to buy so much drink (or should I say so many units) at an age where work is part-time for many, what will the consumption become when they start earning real money?

    This generation’s panacea is alcohol and hard drugs, just the same as previous generations have had theirs; this is a problem for the future which MUST be dealt with now.

    • 27/09/2010 at 2:15 am

      If you will forgive me, I must say it strikes me that any 17 year old who believes he has a handle on “this generation’s” problems, let alone the previous generations, would strike me as having rather a touch of excessive precociousness about him.

      Such 17 year olds normally end up joining the Young Conservatives. I hope that’s not the ill-fated path you’re choosing to follow yourself, but I hold out scant hope.

      To answer your question, incidentally, I can assure you that those of your generation who find themselves drinking a lot when they are young will, in fact, not drink their entire wage packet when they are older. Every generation is full of young people who burn the candle at both ends, and then they get older and run shy of wicks. I would advise you not to worry that yours is the generation that finally turns out to be as feckless as the one before it worries it will be — they never are — and perhaps find out what kinds of alcohol suit you best. Me, I didn’t drink when I was your age either, but I’ve since discovered that a well aged scotch whisky can be a singular and incomparable pleasure. Perhaps you can start to become a connoisseur of fine liquors to distinguish yourself from your peers, because, if I am brutally honest, being a moralising prude never suits the young.

    • 27/09/2010 at 2:17 am

      Incidentally… it would behoove you well to research a period of time known as “the 1960s.” And when you’re done with that, research something called “the 1920s”. Trust me, young master Rathbone, “this generation” is nowhere near unique. The cocaine this decade is rubbish, for a start.

  31. 11/09/2011 at 2:11 pm

    “The price of beer and cider has fallen by about 30 per cent in real terms since 1990, while wine and spirits have fallen by about 20 per cent.”

    No it hasn’t. From the Office of National Statistics:

    “Between 1980 and 2008, the price of alcohol increased by 283.3%. After considering inflation (at 21.3%), alcohol prices increased by 19.3% over the period.”

    At least try to get the basic facts right.

  32. Jonathan Bagley
    12/09/2011 at 1:28 pm

    I remember you. You were the one who admitted to Michael McFadden, author of Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains, that the smoking ban was not intended to protect employees but to coerce people into giving up smoking. Well, it didn’t work. The proportion of people smoking has remained the same, thousands of social lives have been ruined and thousands of pubs have shut leaving thousands jobless. And now you are starting on alcohol. Haven’t you caused enough misery? All you drinkers out there; don’t say we didn’t warn you

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