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Tell me Ed, when did the Tories cease to be the party of personal responsibility and Liberty. First our fags, then our booze, anything left?

This is an interesting idea - but I am concerned that it may be taking us down a "slippery slope". What next? Taxing fatty and sugary foods on the grounds that they are eaten by obese people?

The Tories should not be proposing any new taxes. We should be emphasising more growth and less waste to pay for the things that Iain Duncan-Smith proposes.

Brown was right to protect the UK drinks industry by keeping tax down. Hasn't IDS heard about tax competition?

First, I welcome the harm avoidance bit of this, and most of IDS' stuff in general, but I wish to raise a point about cannabis, because I think he has just got the principle wrong.

"Cannabis" probably shouldn't be one drug for classification purposes any more. "Skunk" and variants are, apparently, enormously more potent than "Grass" and variants. But it does not follow from this that "Grass" variants need have a class B rating - or indeed be illegal at all. Methylated spirits and Whiskey each contain ethyl and methyl alcohol, but only the latter is permitted to be sold for human consumption. And we don't consider the fact that a few sad souls consume methylated spirits to be a sufficient reason for banning Whiskey.

Cannabis variants should be judged on their own merits. And like other drugs, the criterion should be: Would permitting or banning the sale of this product lead to the greater measure of ordered liberty? If it is highly addictive and at the same time significantly damaging (like cigarettes) then it should be banned as a limitation on liberty (for the addict is not free). If it is highly compulsive and compels crimes such as theft, then it should be banned as a threat to order (like heroin). If is it highly damaging but not especially addictive (like mild cannabis variants) then it should be legal (not decriminalised - legal). If it is highly addictive but not damaging or likely to enforce crime (like coffee) then it should be of limited policy concern.

Some cases, such as cigars, create practical problems (could we ban cigarettes without also banning cigars?), but these, again, should be argued on their merits. The case may be there, and it may not. What is certainly *not* the point is how harmful a substance is. The State does not exist to prevent us from taking risks to our health. It can ensure that we are informed about those risks, but (subject to the comments about addictive substances above), once informed the choice should be up to us.

Elaib is spot on. Does IDS want us to have Scandanavian levels of alcohol taxes?

Scandanavia has its binge drinking problems too. People make and drink illegal moonshine at home. They drink it at home before going out to the pub for the two pints of beer that they can afford. The result is that the pubs are dull, lifeless places.

Sacandanavian booze-cruising is legendary. Scandanavians also binge drink on holiday when they have a rare opportunity to buy win e, beer and spirits at reasonable.

Why should responsible drinkers have to pay more? If we have to find more money to tackle binge drinking, may the bars in town centres pay large licensing fees to cover extra policing etc.

This is bad policy and I expected better from IDS.

Whilst it is a restriction on liberty, curbing the problems associated with binge drinking is a wonderfully socially conservative priority relevant to today. But,How much difference would 7p on a pint make? Will a 70p levy on a ten pint binge effectively persuade people to stick to 1 or 2?

Surely the political capital Labour could make out of this proposal is too bigger risk for such a small increase?

If we are tackle binge drinking, the tax has got to sting when your sitting at a bar, or at the off licence till.

This proposal also seems to destroy the notion that any increase in tax in one area would be matched by reductions in another.

Is alcohol bad - or is the over consumption of alcohol bad? I don't drink - but I thought there was medical evidence to say alcohol such as wine could often be beneficial to your health in moderation.

Furthermore, what evidence has there been that increasing tax on cigarettes has made any difference in the smoking behaviour of people? How would a tax on alcohol be any different? Or would it actually mean that those that binge drink would effectively be contributing to their own treatment through the extra tax?

I agree with all of the above. Taxing responsible drinkers because of the behaviour of irresponsible drinkers is not something we should consider. Excuse the cross-reference, but have we really learned no lessons from the fallout of Two Brains, No Common Sense's comments on grammar schools?

Banning any drug is pointless. All you get is a flourishing blackmarket, allowing all those who want to them to get them.

Thanks to the US, we have the perfect experiment on the effectiveness of prohibition, yet we refuse to acknowledge the findings.

Far better to legalise them, tax them, and use that income for treatment and prevention education.

Taxes are to raise revenue for public spending. That is their function. Anything else discredits their purpose.

It shows a lack of understanding of Addiction if addicts are thought to be price-sensitive....and the moderate drinker would not produce enough revenue to make it a realistic objective. Besides British beer is very costly compared to the rest of Europe because of a silly taxation policy on wort rather than output.

Using this logic there is no problem with alcoholics drinking whisky because it carries £10/bottle duty.....I suppose people don't drive cars now that petrol has such huge tax levies ?

What about an example in the Houses of Parliament - abolition of the subsidised bars, or even make them totally dry ? If this idea is so good ban alcohol from Parliament - there are quite a few addicts in that institution.

This is another ill-thought out policy. To tell me addiction is a question of price is to describe ad addictive behaviour as voluntary

Good God - Tim and his IDS Guru are like some 17th century puritans who want to take over all aspects of our private lives. Just because some people can live by prayer and blogs it does not mean we all can or want to. Leave our private lives alone.

I would favour, instead, raising the drinking age to 21 as they do in the States. It would solve a lot of crime and anti-social behaviour by simply preventing it. Also, rather than tax alcohol, I would favour restricting access to it - return to off-licenses instead of making it available in supermarkets.

There is no doubt that binge drinking is an epidemic.

IDS is quite right on cannabis, now a psychosis-inducing drug - even the Indie was forced to admit this.

Far better to legalise them, tax them, and use that income for treatment and prevention education.

Posted by: David | July 08, 2007 at 09:38

NO ! You do not cure addictions by feeding them.....we have prisons full of people whose addictive behaviour got them there....and the revenues from alcohol and cigarettes are sufficient currently to pay for all treatments.

If you push the prices too high - and only Ireland and Sweden match UK duties - then it will simply lead to more EU imports and home-brewing and spirits manufacture.

I really wish politicians would understand a) the EU dimension b) the Market c) Addiction

Extra revenue, off of increased tax, a small percentage to what you'd take of the gangsters who deal cannabis, and you took the money off of them!

You have up 6 million users, why cause more troubles in these times?

Would you have a cannabis user to frightened to report a terrorist activity?

What are you going to spend this extra money on?

To educate people that alcohol is a dangerous killing drug, that you can overdose on?

Nicotine is the largest killing drug, and we are getting our children addicted to the drug caffeine, which is more dangerous than cannabis.

Wake up and smell the coffee, tax and regulate

I would favour, instead, raising the drinking age to 21 as they do in the States

It doesn't work there....go to any beauty spot and look at the piles of empty cans left by teenagers driving out to have a drinking party.....watch how easily Americans get drunk on 3% Coors and other low alcohol beers like Miller and Bud......and no doubt they can smoke spliffs as they drink before driving home....if you want to see things - go to the Midwest and watch the cars with cruise-control set at 55 and the driver drinking a glass of whisky

I’m curious about something... The proposals are to raise taxes on alcohol, does this mean the Conservative Party no longer supports Labour’s idea that people who heavily smoke – who also pay a heavy on cigarettes – and heavily drink shouldn’t be treated on the NHS?

Tim and his IDS Guru are like some 17th century puritans who want to take over all aspects of our private lives.

Nothing wrong with 17th Century Puritanism - it made the country great and built America.......but do not associate a Roman Catholic like IDS with Puritanism please......it shows a distinct lack of understanding of Protestantism

CCTV - your name says it all.

"NO ! You do not cure addictions by feeding them.."

Feeding them? People who want drugs get them now. Making them illegal does absolutely nothing except place the trade under the control of criminal gangs.

"the revenues from alcohol and cigarettes are sufficient currently to pay for all treatments."

There are currently no revenues from drugs, and there are certainly not enough treatment centres.

"If you push the prices too high - and only Ireland and Sweden match UK duties - then it will simply lead to more EU imports and home-brewing and spirits manufacture."

I'm talking about drugs-you've already got to that stage by making them illegal.

Can't see this having an effect on excessive drinking because of course addicts are not price-senstive. It may however have an effect on town centre rowdiness. Supermarkets are likely to absorb the cost of price increases and booze cruises will be revivified. The consequence, when coupled with the stalinist smoking ban, will be an increase in home drinking.

For the record I'm very supportive of what has been reported of IDS' report so far - the action against debt, pioneer schools, reclassifying cannabis, against methadone-style treatments etc. I do not support the extra tax on alcohol, however. Taxes are high enough in Britain today. I agree with Alan S - when it comes to funding extra treatments etc we should emphasise growth policies and less waste in the short-run. Additionally we need to cut demand for government services - which would be the long-run gain from IDS' report.

"Iain Duncan Smith suggests that the slogan 'war on drugs' should be binned: "[It] sends the wrong signals. It is not a war on drugs. It is about getting kids off drugs.""

It's not only Kids on drugs and I'm not sure how forcing softer drugs such as alcohol underground will make it easier to keep anyone from straying onto harder drugs.

Equally, harsh punishments do not seem to stop people dealing - dealers live in a harsh world that makes prison an occupational hazzard they can live with.

If IDS wants to end all of these problems then he should start to move away from old idead such as taxation and prison and look at root causes - poverty and despair. I know he thinks he has looked at these, but he seems to have done so through some very old eyes.

I support the raising of tax on alcohol for 'treatment' of various addictions etc. Let's not kid ourselves, it will do foxtrot alpha about the real problem concerning alcohol/drug abuse. In a way i.d.s' idea is another 'stealth tax'- but at least it has a laudible aim.

Tom Tom you make some good points about addiction. Addiction is not a lifestyle choice - it is something which grabs one round the throat and will not let go. People can be addicted to substances - drink, drugs, food - or behaviour - shopping, spending, sex. The common thread is the addiction is a psychological and physical compulsion. punishment by tax will not be effective - if the addict is unable to afford their substance of choice they will merely resort to crime in order to get it.

CCTV - your name says it all.

Posted by: Realist | July 08, 2007 at 10:01

Why thank you "Realist"...unfortunately yours does not.....

I am not sure that ID-S is proposing the tax to stop addiction but to fund treatments that will? It's a tax I'm happy to see imposed if it does not add to the overall tax burden.

We have learned nothing it seems - Prohibition does not work. The government should stop telling people to stop it. It was quite wonderful watching Andrew Lilico above trying to decide a priori what to ban and what to permit, like some French Enarch or God up Mount Sinai.
Addicts don't respond to tax. The rest of us, not being addicts, don't deserve to be taxed. Why should I be taxed because you are a lush and he is a cokehead?

CCTV knows nothing about the Catholic Church if he thinks it doesn't contain moral puritans, rather than religious ones. "I am not by nature a religious man but I find that if I say no to anything I really want to do, it is very hard to tell the difference."

We are currently suffering the most authoritarian government since the Six Acts and what the British public really needs and will, I think, vote for, is a government that knows how to say Yes.

Tax, tax, tax.

We are supposed to be Conservatives.

Start inventing some ways of cutting taxes instead of introducing them.

Give me strength!

Excellent proposals. One or two of the posters above should visit the downtown areas of their cities late at night to see the extent of the problem.

Conservatives need to declare war on the drink/drugs culture that is turning the younger generation into a race of spaced-out zombies. If he doesn't want to call it a 'war' that's his privilege, but it is a war and he has the right ideas.

I recommend careful study of alcohol control as efficiently exercised by the governments of Norway and Sweden.

Price these morons out of the market and crack down hard on booze merchants who getr out of line. We need to show these people that at least one party means business.

Nulabour is the drunkard's friend

I would favour, instead, raising the drinking age to 21 as they do in the States.

At last a sensible suggestion from Tory T.

But why 'instead'?

Let's go with the politics of 'and' on this one.

Radio 1 are running with story as a suggestion by a Conservative Group. They have highlighted the 7p tax rise to cut drinking rates. Goodbye youth vote. Is IDS determined to go on costing the party elections?

Goodbye youth vote.

What youth vote? Most of them don't bother to vote at all. Those that do support the BNP and other loony parties.

We have an ageing population and those that are able do vote because they have voted all their lives. Older people will endorse these plans with enthusiasm, as will all good Christians of whatever denomination, together with Jews and Muslims.

IDS has come up with some fantastic ideas but they need to be supported not just because they will be popular. They need to be supported because they are right


what has the leadership in our party got against hard working families? first it was extra tax on flights for their summer hols and now it is an extra tax on their favourite tipple. Whatever happened to cutting taxes? If we go on like this there will be an early election and we will lose.


What do you mean by "Prohibition does not work"? Do you mean because there are still heroin addicts? There are still thieves, so in that sense the prohibition on theft "does not work". There are still paedophiles, so the prohibition on paedophilia "does not work".

With most illegal drugs (cannabis being the obvious exception) the vast majority of people obey the law, though they might have found it interesting to give them a try once or twice (like cigarettes, or absinthe, or ouija boards) if they had not been illegal. And that is a problem when it comes to highly addictive and destructive drugs like heroin. For then if someone makes a bad call, is having a bad few weeks, gets drunk at a party and doesn't know what he is doing, etc., we can end up lumbered with a compulsive and destructive addiction through making a mistake. I would rather that policy understands mankind's "trembling hand" - we make mistakes, and the punishment for making a mistake should not be a lifetime of destructive addiction. Policy should offer us some protection from that.

Oh dear the la-la-libertarians are out in force. When this country re-acquires a sensible drinking culture, then taxes can come down -- until then drinkers will have to pay for the damage our drinking culture does to this country.

Traditional Tory
Not all young people vote for "BNP and other loony parties" and those that do not vote probably drop out of the system because people like you fail to engage with them. Silly policies like this one will not get them back into the fold.

The cannabis move seems sensible.

The extra drink tax is just plain dumb. It will only encourage the purchase of booze in France to bring it back here for consumption at home. Brown has kept these taxes down because of this problem. People have alternatives to paying high booze taxes.

The younger binge drinkers actually drink a lot of booze at home before they go out to pubs and clubs. A 7p on a pint will not add much to the price of a pint in a club which can exceed £5.

This booze tax is out of touch with reality.

Traditional Tory

well I work full time in Norway and can assure you that the very high levels of taxation on alcohol (resulting in beer at about £8 a pint) and the restructions on purchase (wines and spirits can only be bought at government controlled and owned shops) do absolutely nothing to reduce either alcoholism, binge drinking or the damage associated with both.

It is interesting that IDS is on the radio shows this morning going on about the fractred society we live in but is saying nothing about the real causes which is the loss of disciplinbe and respect that has resulted from the dependency culture created by the concensus over the last 15 years.

If you want to deal with these problems then make people properly responsible for their actions with real punishments rather than small fine or community service orders. Until people fear the consequences of their actions and stop being rewarded for anti social lifestyles no amount of tax changes will alter their behaviour.

It seems to me that IDS wants higher taxes to pay for treatment costs, rather than to prevent drinking.

This is the wrong approach. It would be better to prevent treatment being needed altogether. Bring in a 21 year old age limit and punishments for retailers that break it. This will break the drink-to-drugs cycle afflicting many of our youngsters and stop "hoodies" and petty crime.

Removing alcohol from supermarkets will stop binge drinking on impulse.

But families and adult drinkers will still have access to wine and spirits without punitive taxes.

CCTV knows nothing about the Catholic Church if he thinks it doesn't contain moral puritans, rather than religious ones.

To associate Roman Catholicism with Puritanism is absurd.....Puritan is the name given to Reformation Protestants opposed to episcopacy and upholding sola fide, sola scriptura.

Whatever the Church of Rome "containS it is not Puritans in any way, shape, or form.......you will find the Temperance Movement emerged from the Wesleyans

Bring in a 21 year old age limit and punishments for retailers that break it.

That should be a fun case under the HRA....removing rights from voters...but I doubt you could punish retailers with so much traffic in white vans from Dover and Hull to self-import

To associate Roman Catholicism with Puritanism is absurd

It's absurd in a strictly religious sense, but not in the 'vulgar' sense of the word.

What nation, until recently, was as 'puritan' as the Irish Republic? Even the mildest forms of pornography, such as Playboy, were strictly forbidden, and discipline in Catholic schools was as harsh as anything John Knox himself might have imposed.

"Worst Tory leader ever produces stupidest idea so far" - why the amazement?

"I would favour, instead, raising the drinking age to 21 as they do in the States."

That would leave a lot of 18-20 year olds without a pub to go to in the evening whi h would be a pity because when I was that age it was a great social venue. And depriving university students of alcohol?!

Personally I don't see why responsible drinkers should be forced to suffer just because of a minority of borderline alcoholics.

For years it has been claimed that cannabis led to hard drugs!In view of this what then did people expect with the introduction of alco-pops.Now it seems that responsible users are to pay higher taxes for alcohol because no one had the nous to prohibit alco-pops.It seems the conservative party has a death wish,first grammar schools then museum charges, now raising the tax on alcohol.We have terrorist sympathisers working for the police,terrorist traffic wardens, 1600 under surveillance, and what makes the news, tax on alcohol! It beggars belief. Its about time Cameron got real.

The tax on alcohol should be at least 3 times what it is now. Its time to stop pussyfooting around - alcohol is an addictive drug and needs to be made harder to get. Too many youngsters are suffering from alchohol abuse. Furthermore, the penalty for selling alcohol to the underage needs to be far more severe - at the moment its not even a slap on the wrist. Why isn't the license to sell alcohol withdrawn immediately from such lawbreakers?

I'm inclined to agre with Erasmus at 12:22.

I don't see how this level of tax is high enough for anybody to get angry about - we're talking about an extra 50p for a very heavy night's drinking.

What I would also like to see is some sort of levy on licensees to cover the anti-social behaviour generated by their establishments. THis would be fiscally neutral as the cost is currently borne by the ratepayer.

As for the youth vote, I suspect we'd lose out more from the position on cannabis than we would from the position on alcohol tax. So perhaps the booze tax announcemnet has gone in our favour by covering up the cannabis policy ?

Well said, Mark. 50p for one night's drinking doesn't make much difference to an individual but those 50p's added up could pay for a lot of treatment for addicted people.

I am not sure if I agree or not with this extra tax on beer.

Has David Cameron said what he thinks yet?

If we keep coming out with policy statements that contain bad news like "tax on beer" we are never going to get into Govt.

This is the problem with all these policy statements, they are trying to do too much and inevitably contain one or 2 bad headline items that will destroy our ability to be elected.

The Mail has not adopted a balanced approach weighing up all of the report. Instead it has gone for 1 headline item to destroy us.

"Why isn't the license to sell alcohol withdrawn immediately from such lawbreakers? "

Because sometimes it's just simple human error made by young students on checkouts who don't actually have an evil agenda to get everybody drunk.

"Far better to legalise them, tax them, and use that income for treatment and prevention education."

If you're going to legalize something but then subject it to taxation, the argument about destroying black markets run by organized crime disintegrates, because the power to tax is the power to destroy and therefore there are ALWAYS huge black markets in nominally legal but highly taxed products, e.g., alcohol and tobacco. Further, if you make drugs legal, I assume you still have an age cutoff, so you're still left with a black market for underage sales.

"I would favour, instead, raising the drinking age to 21 as they do in the States."

As a prosecutor here in the US, I can tell you with pretty much 100% certainty that the only thing the 21 age limit does is encourage irresponsible and reckless drinking by those under 21. The idea that it actually keeps alcohol out of the hands of teenagers is an absurd fantasy dreamed up by Congress that the states sadly went along with in their lust for federal highway funds.

@Andrew Lilico
Prohibition didnt work in the USA where it caused widespread contempt for the forces of law and order and nor is it working in the UK where the number of addicts/users of heroin, cocaine, E and cannabis are all increasing. Have you been anywhere near a sixth form common room or JCR recently?

Disraeli was famously swept into office "on a tide of gin and beer" after promising to cut the excise duty from levels that todays puritans would consider pitifully low. I sense that England has passed through the "periodic fit of morality" that brought Blair to power and in the midst of increasingly depressing economic news is going to be looking for a Party that offers a little fun.

You are using puritan in its strictly religious sense. Savanorala, St Dominic, Ignatius Loyola were all puritans in the sense of being anti-fun. Puritans oppose drinking not because it causes loutish behaviour but because people enjoy doing it.

I think those that are accusing the Catholic church of being puritan are a little confused as "puritans" are from the Protestant tradition, so far as I understand it! I think they may be confusing the words "puritan" and "ascetic" which it could be said describe some - but certainly not all - Catholics.

Note IDS says young people's drinking levels are sensitive to price. Not the rate of addiction. Most young people, or even older people, who binge drink do not consider themselves to have an addiction, and most people would not view them as such: drinking levels, and binge drinking, are not the same as addiction.

It is perhaps presentationally unfortunate that Tories should be advocating at this juncture higher taxes on something that a lot of people enjoy. Not exactly a vote-catcher, as taxing booze, ciggies and air travel hits disproportionately at the less well paid and hardly endears them them towards governments that want to increase.

Also dislike the inference of hypothecation of the tax take. That sort of thing is a bit dodgy, as people might then start wanting road spending commensurate with their "Road Tax" and smokers a reduction in tax because the take is about four times the amount of NHS expenditure on smoking-related diseases.

And as for taxes to save the environment and those random roadside tolls (a.k.a. speed cameras) @/*%!!!

Repeating TomTom 09:41 : "Taxes are to raise revenue for public spending. ... Anything else discredits their purpose."

Measures to influence, regulate, debar various behaviours should be a separate matter.


Many addicts don't consider themselves to be addicted to various things.

It's the behaviour that proves the addiction, not the acceptance of that fact.

I am against this policy for the reasons outlined above, but only on balance. It is playing well on News 24.

I agree with whoever said that "our broken society" is a stronger phrase/motto than "social responsibility" - whilst addressing the same thing.

This policy IS getting us back into the news cycle. It will be interesting to see if it has any effect on the polls. Of course it's only 24 hours. But the last set of policy recommendations was also on News at 10. I am quite heartened to see us clawing back a little, just a little, airtime in the honeymoon period. It can only benefit us.

Contrary to what most posters on this site think, I remind everybody that polling directly after the grammars row had us with big leads because we were in the news. IMO, the present situation is all about Brown dominating the news. If the policy reviews keep this up, we are in a fair way to get back to normal politics earlier than expected.

Keep going boys and girls!

No more taxes please--we're conservatives!Otherwise OK though.

Just got back from a social event - afternoon BBQ with a range of ages and occupations. This topic was discussed - Tories seen as loony and high tax.

'Vote Tory Pay More Tax'

This is just what is needed. Grammer Schools now this .. The party has lost it. Cameron is just to left wing for me. i dont think we will have a chance of winning if we carry 0n like this. Its just new labour in blue and green.

I am not sure if I agree or not with this extra tax on beer.

Has David Cameron said what he thinks yet?

What a gem from 'Bluepatriot', master of the sycophantic one-liner. Why doesn't he just declare 'I agree with whatever David Cameron is going to say'?

Presumably if Cameron stated his belief in a flat earth or applauded the Massacre of the Innocents Bluepatriot would be on hand to praise 'another fantastic move by David Cameron'

Thanks Traditional Tory. It was quite a gem from bluepatriot.

IDS has got this wrong.

If people are over-indulging with alcohol perhaps he should consider why. We probably are drinking too much and we do need to address that issue. Tax is not the answer. The former Bullingdon boy and Chocolate Orange Inspector should stamp on this illiberal idea.

The Conservative Party should be appealing to the hard working, home owning working class, as Reagan did in America.

Instead you appeal to the underclass and punish the hard working, working class.

This can only alienate the very voters you need, to win a General Election.

Solid good sense from IDS. I agree 100% in increasing the tax on alchohol. I wonder if the party will be brave enough to adopt these policies? I frankly doubt it.
The Conservative party has long had close links with the drinks industry, the last time we fell out with it it cost Lord Young his job.

As I read through the comments on this thread, it seemed to me that many of the posts, perhaps particularly earlier ones, talking about ‘liberty’ and tax etc, forget that the purpose of the proposals in IDS’s report is to repair a broken society, much of which is caused by drug and alcohol addiction. As a Conservative, I agree people should be able to keep as much of their hard-earned money as possible, but can’t we look beyond knee-jerk reactions to tax and ‘personal liberty’ and to what is best for society. As for ‘liberty’, bondage to alcohol and drug addictions can’t be liberty!

Realist (1010) must be a socialist, saying root causes of problems are poverty and despair. This is the wrong way round. Rather, it’s things like drug and alcohol addiction that are root causes of poverty and despair!

I agree with Tory T (1246) that restricting access to alcohol by removing it from supermarkets and a 21-year age limit etc and punishments for retailers who break it, would be good additional measures. Also Richard Tyndall (1231) has a point that making people responsible for their actions and real punishments that would make people fear the consequences of their actions might be more effective than tax.

As for the argument of civil libertarians that taxation or harsher punishments won’t prevent drug-dealing and drug or alcohol abuse etc, that’s probably true. But at least it would make those activities more difficult and should therefore should reduce the problem. That would be a step in the right direction. To legalise something makes it easier and increases the occurrence of the previously outlawed activity – the number of abortions rocketed after the 1967 Abortion Act.

The argument of ‘civil libertarians’ seems to be that if a law is being broken, then scrap that law. But apparently, we are the worst country for drugs, debt and broken families. That’s where decades of do-what-you-like liberalism that has no sense of right and wrong have got us.

Time for the Conservative Party to declare that the Permissive Society is the uncivilised society.

Then the next step - to declare war on the Binge Kultur.

Excellent post Philip. Thank you.

No Editor, it is a rubbish post. This is why (apart from being from the ilk of social puritan conservatism which you so enthusiasticaly espouse):

"Realist (1010) must be a socialist, saying root causes of problems are poverty and despair. This is the wrong way round. Rather, it’s things like drug and alcohol addiction that are root causes of poverty and despair! "

Rubbish, rubbish, RUBBISH.

Why do you think people start drinking heavily and taking drugs? Do they think; "oh, I've got a perfectly happy life, I know what, I'll start drinking and smoking a lot to make it better!"

No, of course they don't. They start drinking heavily because they're seeking an escapism in life. Like, bereavement, lonliness, family breakdown, abuse, bullying whatever... The root causes are social. That's why people become addicts.

Addicts are not deterred by taxes, or threat of the law, they need their fix and will still get it. Such draconian measures have done NOTHING to improve the situation in Scandanavia, they will do nothing here.

This is just stupid Toombstone prohibitionism it will do nothing to fix society or mend families. What it will do is LOSE US votes. Mine for a start.

Addicts have a personality/pyschological defect or have been grossly affected by some sort of trauma.

You want to cut alcohol abuse? Tackle that.

Don't punish the Millions of us (including me) who love a drink.

Right, I'm off for a Bacardi and Coke - Swivell!!

If IDS really believes that “young people’s drinking levels were particularly sensitive to changes in price” then he should get out more! If he had done his research properly he would find that the bar that are most popular and the cause of the majority of binge drinking by young people are the most expensive. The so-called ‘binge drinking culture’ is far more complex that the price and availability of alcohol. Raise the price of a pint of beer to £100 to stop people drinking would only cause the problem to be expressed in other ways.

These idiotic proposals that are coming out of the policy review groups will keep the Conservatives out of power for another 10 years. I truly believe that the Conservatives have already lost the next general election. The lack of policies, failure to effectively oppose the government, idiotic suggestions like this current one, and what on Earth was Cameron thinking when he congratulated Blair on his ten years as PM!

"Realist (1010) must be a socialist, saying root causes of problems are poverty and despair. This is the wrong way round. Rather, it’s things like drug and alcohol addiction that are root causes of poverty and despair!"

Philip - I'm not a Socialist - you are an idiot though.

Editor - 1902 - Just because a post shares your own view of society it does nor make it right. Sadly Editor you have not really lived in the real world so you do not understand it. Too many Adam Smith pamphlets in your formative years have warped your view of the world.

Graham Checker - spot on.

Graham Checker says (1930), “Why do you think people start drinking heavily and taking drugs? …They start drinking heavily because they're seeking an escapism in life. Like, bereavement, loneliness, family breakdown, abuse, bullying whatever...” I agree that such problems and also personality/pyschological defects, traumas etc, which can be treated/healed, can contribute to addiction.

But does everybody respond to such problems by drug-abuse and heavy drinking, Graham? Are those problems the only reasons for drug abuse and heavy drinking? How about peer-pressure, for example? And of course it can’t be denied that drug and alcohol addiction are a cause of poverty and despair.

(I like “a drink” too!)

Re: Tory T at 9.50. I normally tend to agree with you but raising the drinking age to 21 will not reduce anti-social behaviour for a whole host of reasons. These range from the problem that more youngsters will hang around on the street longer to the fact that there will be more proxy purchasing and uncontrolled sales from the back of cars. I think the proposals coming from the party on social breakdown are very good but I am not so keen onany large increases in taxes on drink. Again there are a number of reasons for this ranging from the fact that younger drinkers will not take that much notice to that fact that older drinkers (on fixed incomes) and rural pubs will suffer further closures (not a good idea if we want to encourage social cohesion and communities). As I say I like the overall proposals from IDS. They are just ideas and as with all the policy group repoprts, the party will have to adjust/refine and select the best before forming the final policies,


Realist (re your post at 2011), perhaps I should have worded it “Realist’s argument that root causes of problems are poverty and despair sound like socialist arguments”, which would have been less offensive – I apologise. But I do feel that seeing poverty etc as the cause of problems in society is a more socialist (perhaps liberal as well) view and damaging to society as it undermines the concept of personal responsibility, which I see as a Conservative principle.

Why is it the only thing I hear from the Tories these days is tax "rises"?

Internalising the externality is a good move. The point isn't to change behaviour, but rather to raise the money to cover the externals costs in the form of extra policing and healthcare to cover the activity. Overall, okay.

Though I agree that it would be better if harsher punishments for the offenders were levied, either in the form of harsher fines, or community service, where the labour is the commodity of compensation being taken from the offender.

Overall, I give the policy a B+.

In a similar vein, denying smokers healthcare on the NHS is immoral, if we work on the assumption that the NHS is a moral end itself. Instead, tobacco should be taxed to cover the costs to the NHS.

This is the very NuLab nannying rubbish that is destroying the Conservative Party.

It has gone down a treat with the public too. Look at Have your Say (most recommended) on the BBC site, which following this loony Tory story.


The proposal to increase alcohol tax to high levels will fail for the following reason:
Ken Clarke upped the booze taxes when he was chancellor, followed by Brown. The result, a huge multi-million pound busines generated by bootlegging booze from France, Belgium etc. Most of the proceeds went to fund drug importation. So if you increase the booze taxes more then more business for the bootleggers.
The experience of Norway and Sweden and their high booze prices is not a good one as those of us who have worked their know.
The main result of the highly taxed booze was the growth of the "moonshine" business, most homes I,ve been to in Norway have moonshine stills. This means that instead of drinking eg. 20% whiskey or even the higher quality malt, they drink moonshine at around 120% proof. The result being a much higher rate of alcohol abuse than the UK.
I,m not saying that people in the UK would start moonshine stills, however those living in run down areas with no hope will be tempted to use more drugs or find alcohol in other things like meths or anti-freeze.

Cameron’s Tories to Increase Tax on Beer!

Cameron’s Tories to Increase Tax on Beer!

Cameron’s Tories to Increase Tax on Beer!

Cameron’s Tories to Increase Tax on Beer!

Please can we have a by-election in a Tory seat!

Last Sunday morning I woke up with a cloud of depression over me. I woke up on that morning realising that the libertarian country I had grown up in had gone. I drove along in my works van, (illegally smoking a cigarette), and everywhere were the hallmarks of the nanny state. CCTVs, speed cameras, signs on the road telling us the reason for the limit. I went to the hospital two weeks ago and there were smoking inspectors in the car park, yes, the car park!! Picture the scene. Someone walks into a car park and sees someone smoking and "BANG" they drop dead of lung cancer. Now we here that a future Conservative government will punish the vast majority of responsible drinkers with a huge tax rise to stop the obvious loser from buying alcohol. See yourself in the mind of an alcoholic. Will a higher tax cure your addiction, of course it bloody won't. It will cause that addict more anguish in order to feed his habit, but, alas he will still drink. There used to be an argument from old Labour, that taxation can change society, my god the new Tories are old Labour. It won't be long, believe me, that there will be beer and sandwiches at Concervative central office.

Oh wow....some people are so out of touch with reality.

Want to win a landslide election and generate an easy 3billion pounds a year in tax and whilst your at it also cut down the number of alcohol related violent crimes? Do you?
Then legalise cannabis.

You people are so stupid and out of touch it won't be a surprise when you lose another election.


This will be next!

Sorry Philip (and Editor) but that is garbage.

The experience of all the countries I can think of which have introduced punitive taxes or limits on drinking in the way IDS proposes has been that they have seen increases in alcohol abuse and, more importantly, increases in the other 'crimes' that then develop around the whole question of avoidance.

It ties up police and customs resources which could be better used elsewhere and it removes the 'normality' from alcohol. It is this normality which has meant that countries such as France, Italy and Spain do not see the levels of abuse and binge drinking that we see in the UK. It is their lead we should be following, not the Scandinavians.

This policy is very wrong headed, but then coming from Iain "no brains" Duncan Smith, it's hardly surprising. Cameron will do well to bury this, and quick.

If the Tories really think raising tax on alcohol is going to help curb binge drinking, might I suggest they choose their target more carefully?

Beer is not, and never has been, the binge drinker's bevvy of choice. Vodka Red Bull, Tequila shots, Bacardi Breezers, 15%abv plonk in 250ml glasses... that's what they're drinking.

Beer in moderation is a healthy drink, and real ale is a part of British culture we should be proud of and should seek to protect.

There's more discussion of this on my blog.

Don't think so John F.Utterly stupid idea. I have some sympathy with some of the libertarians posting on this thread but still believe IDS has got it right. None of you have proposed anything that will seek to cure the 'broken society' that affects so many of our countrymen. Bleating that increases in tax are 'unConservative' is to miss the point entirely. We have some of the worst binge drinking in Europe here and the results of it blight our country. If any of you have better ideas on how to curb that problem it would be good to hear them.
Oh and Icarus, if your moronic post is a good indicator of Lib Dem political thinking no wonder 83% are currently rejecting the Lib Dem message.I'm amazed it is not more.

Wow, the Tories are really appealing to the Youth vote, aren't they? And the 15-21 cohort is one of the largest demographic groups behind the baby boomers. We are the 'echo-boomers' (children of the boomers). The majority of my friends smoke Cannabis, and none of them go around committing crime or beating people up...and as far as I can tell, the fact that they smoke draw once or twice a month hasn't made them psychotic monsters, either. I can't think that Cameron will like this..he wrote several pro-legalisation articles for the Grauniad if i remember correctly.

Despite coming up with packages of good ideas such as the recent IDS proposals on social breakdown, the messages are in danger of being lost because of media interest in one aspect of the ideas, namely increased tax on alcohol. I think the party really needs to get to grips with how it announces the proposals that the policy groups are working on, or we are going to wander into one problem after another and risk losing the points we are trying to make. A lot of good work is going on and in fact far from being policy light there is much good stuff in the pipeline but as I say it risks being overshadowed. Its partly understandable that the media will focus on more controversial ideas that policy groups are looking at - we should foresee that and have announcements ready that the media will report BUT ones that will strike more positively at the heart of what we are trying to do. I think we need Andy Coulson to get a grip on this. We've also got the problem that the public won't distinguish between policy groups and official party policy - They will just see something on the telly, mention of Tory and then a policy idea. Danger is that by the time we get to our real policies people will have been put off by all the silly initial ideas the media have chosen to report that we've allowed them to,


IDS could well be right, in the case of teenagers, about them being fairly sensitive on price. They probably often have only a given amount to spend on a night out (£10, £20 - whatever they scrounged from Mum), and if prices are higher then they won't be able to afford to get so drunk (after saving enough for a kebab and a bus-ride home). I wouldn't think this reasoning applies so much to students or twenty-somethings, though.

How feasible might it be to develop a tax targeted specifically at alco-pops?

Legalisation of cannabis is an utterly stupid idea? I think not.
Look at Holland with its laws. Less hard drug users than the UK, less children starting to use drugs than the UK, less violent alcohol attacks than the UK etcetc
Legalisation and proper drug education (rather than just believing what nonsense the Independent reporters feel like making up) would reduce binge drinking and create huge amounts of tax.
Look at a city like Glasgow, almost every violent attack and murder is committed by someone "high" on alcohol. This wouldn't happen with such alarming regularity if cannabis was freely available as it is in Holland.

Want to see violent crime drop?
Want to see an end to the binge drinking problem?
Want to win an election?
Legalise cannabis.

The media coverage of this issue is pre-empting any annuncement on Tuesday...it has been superbly spiked - how did this get so badly side-tracked ?

It would certainly boost the RPI so what would the Conservatives cut to avoid inflation increasing ?

The EU Commission wants VAT harmonisation which means duties on alcohol in Britain would have to be cut to the EU average and the £1.34 Excise Duty + VAT on each bottle of wine would have to be cut.

It is not especially difficult to produce vodka from potatoes; the French can buy beer at 14, the Germans at 16, the British at 18....but actually much of the alcoholism is spirits related and it is often highly-paid professionals and their wives that are heavy drinkers....and there is a heavy drinking culture among MPs.

It is not as if alcoholic drinks does not generate huge tax revenues already - £14 billion of which beer alone provided £6 billion

31% cost of a pint of beer is tax, yet Britons have a lower per capita consumption of alcohol than in most EU countries...it is just that certain people drink too much.

Look at Holland with its laws.

Currently being tightened considerably

Cannabis isn't legalized in the Netherlands. It is decriminalised. The difference is crucial. We should certainly not consider decriminalising cannabis - a process that eases the funding of gangsters that also traffic in people, organise prostitution, run guns, and many other vile things.

We should, on the other hand, consider legalising cannabis - as mooted by Portillo at the time of his leadership campaign but which has sadly dropped off the radar since. The cannabis we would legalise would obviously not be Skunk and variants, but instead milder forms - presumably Grass and variants. There are all kinds of arguments for doing this, but the single most important is that I mentioned above.

Yes, Holland may be tightening its cannabis laws (cutting down on the number of cannabis shops per area)but it is in no way criminalising it further.

Andrew, I don't think it will work and in the meanwhile it will punish everyone and put some pubs at risk which will hardly help communities eg in rural areas. Those that go to pubs in the say late teens early 20s bracket can simply get cheap booze before they go to the pub or drink cheap booze on the streets making situation worse. Same issue with raising drinking age to 21 (as someone on this thread suggests) as they will just delay going to pub and cause more mayhem in the streets. Sadly a good package of ideas from IDS is being overshadowed by this one side issue. The party must get a grip on the policy groups and sort out proposals before any ideas are announced,


Josh | July 08, 21:16
"Instead, tobacco should be taxed to cover the costs to the NHS."

Tobacco tax brings in four times the cost to NHS of smoking-related diseases.

Just as beer isn't the binge drinker's bevvy of choice, pubs aren't their preferred venue either.

If you're going to pursue policies in this way, they must at least be targetted at the actual problem - not those of us who responsibility drink relatively low stength beers in traditional British pubs.


we may have some of the worst incidents of binge drinking in Europe but those countries which compare with us most (un)favourably are those which have even tighter drinking laws than we do.

If you want to see what is wrong with IDS' suggestions then I think you should start by looking at the comparable tax rates and levels of alcohol abuse in other European countries. You will very quickly see that those countries with the worst incidence of alcohol abuse are also those with the most proscriptive alcohol policies.

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