Family doctors were furious with both the Government (Dawn Primarolo) and the BBC PM programme (Eddie Mair) suggesting that the main cause of the rising alcohol problems in UK is the failure of GPs to recognise such problems. Too silly for words. Alcohol problems are easy to recognise. And we are not just talking about the clichéd alcoholic, lying semi-comatose in the alleyway clutching a bottle of strong cider. We are talking of the housewife who drinks two bottles of supermarket plonk every night, the lawyer, the accountant and, yes, the politician even who starts the evening with two stiff gin and tonics (8 units), demolishes a bottle of claret over dinner (12 units) and finishes the evening with a couple of whiskey night-caps (8 units). That’s 28 units a day, and about 200 units a week. No one can drink that much and still stand up, you may say. They can. They do. And, during the working day, no one notices. Until one day, they turn yellow.
Labour’s attempt to blame the medical profession is absurd. We need to change the drinking culture. We need to start with children. It can be done. Drinking is “cool”, and tough and macho. Smoking used to be like that but, slowly and surely, there has been a change. It can be done with alcohol too.
Where would I start if I were a politician? I would declare war on Alcopops.