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The 'Nanny State' is alive and well and living in the Tory Party

No no no no no.

Will people please stop pretending that an extra 50p is going to stop 11-year-olds kids from getting drunk and ending up in hospital.

You have to attack the supply of drinks, not the consumers - heavily fine and immediately revoke the licenses of those who sell to underage drinkers, and increase the age of buying alcohol to 21 unless you are in a pub or bar.

When the CSJ originally proposed this I was one of the very few on this blog to support it. I don't think this is about 'nanny statism' at all,it is about trying to combat a problem that blights our country and ruins hundreds of thousand of lives.

Great contribution, David. I suppose, in your opinion, there's no problem.

The fact is that state has to act because that's what taxpayers are demanding. If that makes the state "nanny", it's only necessary because some parents aren't doing their job.

I think that there needs to be a greater choice of good quality, lower alcohol beers and ciders. I think many people have got into the habit of drinking stronger things, simply because stronger brands are heavily pushed and decent lower-alcohol options aren't as widely available in supermarkets or off-licences. Where we were drinking beers that were 3%-4% abv, 5% seems to be the present standard.

That said, sticking taxes on alcopops and the rest will just mean that kids buy other cheap drink. 18 years ago, our cheap and strong drink of choice was own-brand vermouth - its vileness was no deterrent at all. Though I can't catch a whiff of the stuff these days without feeling ill.

Malcoml - I agree with you. I would prefer if this had been part of a wider strategy in this area.

As a frontline health care professional who works in emergency medicine I regularly see the effects on people who abuse their bodies, so I know a little about the subject.

Unfortunately this looks like another quick fix, knee jerk reaction, very much in keeping with what this shower of a government would do. This party could and should know and do better.

If you increase taxation on alcopops then people will simply go and buy the cheaper stuff and drink more of it. You can as easily get drunk on White Lightning Cider (foul though it is) as an alcopop. I believe that a three litre bottle of the stuff can be bought for around three quid. So you end up having to raise duty on everything alcoholic. So what do people then do (and already do)? They supplement their alcohol with recreational drugs.

I am afraid Mr Osborne’s proposal is unlikely to achieve much as the underlying problem goes much deeper. Reluctant though I am to admit it, seeing what I do day in and day out, I seriously believe that we have a lost a generation of youngsters and it is absolutely heart breaking. This is most likely the first (young) adult generation brought up by parents to terrified to discipline them (with good reason as the law will always side with the youngster these days), growing up in a moral vacuum with little in the way of rules and boundaries, and never having to take responsibility for their actions, these kids have fallen by the wayside and collectively as a society we have failed them.

Until we start giving back adults back their authority over children, parents and teachers the rights back to discipline, and start making people take responsibility for their actions and behave like human beings rather than primitive animals, then we will never solve the problem. We need to tackle the societal attitudes that underpin the problems.

It is probably too late for the kids who we see indulging in this kind of behaviour as the die is cast for them, but it may be possible to re-restart with the current generation of young children. Let’s just hope that their parents are not the same people who we see sprawled half naked, paralytic and lying in their own urine and vomit every night of the week.

I would prefer if this had been part of a wider strategy in this area.

James, I listened to George Osborne talking on BBC this morning and he made exactly your point: this is part of a solution, not the whole thing.

Unbelievable. Now we are the tax raising party! What about the middle class binge drinkers who get through lord knows how many bottles of champagne etc. Are we only interested in taxing the poor.

Stop this nonsense at once!

Unbelievable. Now we are the tax raising party!

Unbelievable indeed. Unbelievable that you can’t see the difference between raising taxes and shifting them.

"The extra revenue raised will be used to reduce taxes on low strength beer and cider." -- conservatives.com

This proposal simply uses the tax system to encourage people away from one choice and towards another. A bit like tax breaks for family, etc.

Oh for heavens sake get real. Increased taxes do not work, repeat after me, increased taxes do not work.

Education not compulsion. People drink to forget, and wouldn't you get wrecked after 11 years of NuLab and nanny statism.

Isn't strong cider, e.g. Diamond White, a favourite of binge drinkers? How will Boy George tax Buckfast tonic wine, aka "Buckie" that is made by monks, a favourite of drunks in certain parts of the country?

Whisky, a favourite of MPs, is cheaper than ever (especially in Lidl). It, brandy and vodka are the favourites of alcoholics. If you are serious about tackling alcoholism, they are top of the list.

This is a vindictive policy aimed at taxing young people's preferred products which has not been thought through properly. Champagne, the choice of the Bullingdon Clubbers like Dave, Gideon and Boris, is exempt. These "modernisers" are the true face of Mrs May's nasty party.

Mark - Ah, I hadn't heard that, in which case I await the rest of the plan with interest.

George, you make me laugh.

Tax Relief and Religion should be limited only to the Church of England.

Most certainly a taxable benefit for marriage, BUT, only hetereosexual marriage. -- George Hinton

It appears that you agree that tax can be used as a tool to change behaviour and are quite happy to use it for causes and choices that you support. Why don’t you support the idea that low alcohol drinks are a better choice?

I really do wish that people would read the blogs before commenting. These amount to NO OVERALL INCREASE and are therefore REVENUE NEUTRAL PROPOSALS.

Like some have said this is only one piece of the puzzle. I look forward to seeing the other pieces, though no doubt they won't receive as much publicity as this part simply because the tabloids can't make a headline out of them.

Increasing the price of alcohol will do absolutely nothing. There is a student bar near me which sells shots of spirits and pints of beer for 50p. You would have to quadruple the cost of alcohol in order to get a noticeable change in the amount students bought, and then like someone said above they would simply supplement the alcohol with recreational drugs.

You also have the issue of the continent. I buy the majority of my alcohol from Europe now simply because of the high levels of duty in Britain. It costs £5-30 to cross the channel the majority of the time if you shop around and the trips themselves are actually enjoyable. Increase duty and you'll simply see an increase in the number of people crossing the water.

I do not drink alcohol, and back in the hot summer of 1995, in my naivete, I bought a couple of these 'new' alcopops, thinking they were standard carbonated drinks. After quickly drinking both and being a non-drinker the alcoholic effect soon kicked in and I realised that they were alcoholic although they hadn't tasted like alcohol at all. Therein lies the danger, a sweet tasting drink is all too easy to down quickly over a short period of time. The fact that alcohol is diguised makes the drink appear more respectable. So I support the increased levy, however this needs to be backed up by a new public order offence to cope with the binge drinking culture. A dangerous drinking offence, one that goes beyond the standard offence of being disorderly. A dangerous drinking offence could apply to people picked up in a paralytic state, this should be considered a very serious offence with an huge fine.

@ Tony Makara
How on earth did you manage to buy "ALCOpops" and not realise they contain alcohol. Surely there is a clue in the name i.e. ALCOpops.
And i simply can't believe you downed two and at no point knew they were alcoholic.
With people like you in this world sometimes I think we do need a Nanny State afterall

Proud Cider Drinker

Frankly I despair. I am a proud cider drinker from Somerset. A great BRITISH drink. Now my fellow Conservatives want to tax me away from drinking British to drinking some foreign beveridge. I will NOT.
I know how much to drink thank you very much and don't need guidance from the nanny state.
If you make alcohol more expensive you will simply drive younsters to hard drugs... they are cheaper than ever. It's called the law of unintended consequencies!

Hugh Pugh, that is quite touching: I don't think they actually have the word "ALCOPOPS" on the label. The earliest one of them, an orange-flavoured concoction whose name I forget, just looked like fizzy orange until you read the small print (and tasted like it too). I disgracefully bought one for a teetotal friend for a laugh, which was neither big nor clever but proves the point.

On the main point, this bit of opportunistic headline grabbing is probably "good politics" so I am suppressing my distaste for such a nannying measure because we have to do whatever it takes to get Broon out of No 10.

What it certainly will not do, as others have observed, is make a jot of difference to binge-drinking. The duty increase will be countered by manufacturers' using even cheaper forms of gut-rot in the bottle. If that cannot be done (eg because it is already at rock bottom), people will just buy the weaker stuff and recalibrate their intake to the point of equal drunkenness.

Cider is very lowly taxed.

Strong beer is not.

A litre of 7.5% cider has just 26.48p of excise duty. A litre of 7.5% beer is taxed at £1.0283, spirits at £1.467, and wine/alcopops at £1.7799 (weaker alcopops, under 5.5%, are taxed at £0.7542/litre)

Clearly strong beer is taxed highly enough already. It is cider that is taxed too low.

Traditional cider is an English drink . Not really British at all .

White cider is an adulteration of that . Lidl white cider " tramp Juice "
avialable locally at £1.67 for 2 L ie four and a third pints and 7.5% and widely popular amongst the local alkies .
Cider less highly taxed than beer .

Ridiculous . This needs government action .

Subject to potential accusations of bias, it might be a nice idea to target the reduced taxes at real ales. Many micro-brewers are now struggling for a number of reasons. These include the closure of rural pubs because of unoccupied second homes; the closure of city pubs as they are converted to flats and of course the compulsory smoking ban.

Hugh Pugh, at the time these drinks were new on the market and came in little bottles and looked like a bottle of pop. It was a red-hot day and having a milk-bottle white complexion and red-hair the summer usually kills me anyway, so when I came across a corner shop I went in and bought a couple of bottles of what I assumed was some kind of fruit juice. I do remember that I had to take the cap off with my key-ring but that only registered with me after I'd drunken them and realised what they were. I drank both back-to-back in less than five minutes, as I say it was scorching hot and I needed cooling down. The drinks did not have any immediate indication that they were alcoholic.

Hugh Pugh,
I imagine it's quite easy to get confused between alcopops and non alcoholic drinks, especially when they are often stored in the same fridges as J20s (Non-Alcoholic) in bars. In fact I've seen parents telling their kids they can't have a J20 as they believe they contain alcohol due to their positioning next to alcoholic beverages!

Rights of Passage
I think we all need some perspective here.(Going back to when i was a youth many years ago soon after the end of the war).

Sneaking into the local pub for a pint of mild when one was 14/15 years old was considered a rights of passage, it was part of growing up, just like your first kiss behind the bike sheds etc.

I'm sure much of the membership including the shadow cabinet enjoyed copious amounts of alcohol whilst underage.

Why on earth are we declaring war on our youngsters by trying to tax them out of their own "rights of passage".

I also remember William Hague admitting to downing 10 pints of ale as he did his Milk Round. It didn't do him any harm.

Whats good for the goose is good for the gander.

No to the nanny state.

I too remember my youth.
I considered alcohol to be very expensive (late 70s) due to the fact my family had to live of income support.
But that was not going to stop me from drinking. I do rmember my mother buying a home brew kit for christmas. ( they were very popular at the time). You could enjoy many a fine pint and it cost very little.
If we tax alcopops etc we will simply encourage youngsters to move back to home brew etc.
Better off leaving them alone to anjoy their youth. It will be over before they know it.

What a load of old bottle, if Osbourne thinks that doing this will stop binge drinking he lives on another planet. What utter nonsense !

Back to the drawing board !!

More collective punishment from the Tories. Instead of dealing with the problem just come up with a new tax.

So Dave and Gideon are increasing taxes again and this will fall primarily on the lower paid. Strange they're not whacking more on alcohol overall or on bottles of Chateau D'Yquem.

Gezmond007, of course this alone won't stop the problem, thats why I propose an immediate punative response to people found in a paralytic state. A huge fine which is followed by an even bigger fine for a second offence. We all know that people have a drink and may be boisterous but in a harmless way, these people are not the problem. The problem lies with young people who drink so much that they collapse into a state of delirium and become a danger to themselves as well as others. In such cases a new offence ought to apply, if a person is picked up by the police or ends up being de-toxed in hospital they should suffer a huge fine with increased fines for repeat offences. That is one way government can get on top of a very serious problem.

"I do not drink alcohol, and back in the hot summer of 1995, in my naivete, I bought a couple of these 'new' alcopops, thinking they were standard carbonated drinks. After quickly drinking both and being a non-drinker the alcoholic effect soon kicked in and I realised that they were alcoholic although they hadn't tasted like alcohol at all. Therein lies the danger, a sweet tasting drink is all too easy to down quickly over a short period of time."

Tony has highlighted the problem, because back around that time when those drinks were launched and became popular I knew that they would appeal to younger drinkers and they would cause bigger problems later on.

Hardcore Conservative also makes the point about how kids will just turn to a cheaper option, but you know what, casting my mind back to my youth that option did not contain the same strength of alcohol. But at the end of the day its education of kids and parents, and less easily available cheap increased strength alcohol which will go along way to stopping these problems.

On the politics on these alcohol taxation plans announced by George Osborne - smart!
Last night it was being trailed that spirits and in particular whisky might be taxed in this budget. Now the cynic in me noted that the report went to great lengths to mention that one Gordon Brown had not increased the duty on whisky in 11 years and that these plans might not go down well in Scotland. Lets not mention the over 100 stealth taxes or the I want to create an impression this week that I will be tough on Scotland. I could hear the political spin just oozing from No10 & No11 Downing street.
Osborne hit on the alcoholic drinks that will cause a nod of agreement and resonate with voters.
But I would not be surprised if by Budget day Darling has nicked his plans.....

@ Tony Makara
Perhaps we could frog march them to the nearest cash point machine. Didn't TB think of that one!
One womders how many MPs would fall foul of your law. Winston Churchill, George Brown to name but a few


Raising taxes on alcohol as collective punishment for the misbehaviour of a minority is CONSERVATIVE policy?!!!


Osbourne is an idiot!!

I think Osborne was drinking these Alco-pops when he came up with this ridiculous policy !

Stick to Horlicks with Dave !

Hugh Pugh, Tony Blair's suggestion was not proportionate to the problem. If a law was passed making being paralytic in public a very serious offence it would deter most second offences. Repeat offences might even carry a short custodial sentence which would act as a wake up call to many young people. I do not propose a custodial sentence for a first or second offence because a lot of young people might just not know their limits, but once this has become a pattern of behaviour and the person has become a regular public nuisance, then the authorities should be duty bound to respond with a custodial sentence.

I don't believe manipulating the price of certain types of drink via taxation or any other means will make any difference at all.

We need to take punitive measures against public drunkenness, supply of alcohol to those who are under-age, supply of alcohol to those who are already the worse for wear, closure of premises that are causing problems, etc.

For heavens sake, let's see the existing laws being regularly, consistently and effectively used by the police and licensing authorities before we talk about bringing in the heavy hand of the exchequer.

As a mother of teenage girls who's been trying to explain why these pop-like drinks are so dangerous, I welcome the move.

You must be a NuLabour voter!
If you think you need a Nanny State to educate your daughters vis a vis alcopop consumption then heaven help them.

Next they will be living off state handouts, incapable of managing their own lives.

Give them a Gin and Tonic and have done with it.

Margaret Hemmings
You must be so out of touch.

I would be happy for my daughters to drink gin and tonic - but suprise, suprise they don't like the taste much.
The problem with alcopops is that they are sweet and very easy to drink and get you plastered before you realise what is happening. Before you get to the end of a couple of gin and tonics, you start to notice their effect. With alcopops that doesn't happen and you can go from compus mentis to legless with no warning signs.
My daughters have seen it happen to their friends and they now understand why I ask them to stick to wine or spirits
For teenage girls these alcopops are a really bad idea.

@ Deborah
Just because I am 78 please do not assume I am out of touch with youth culture. I was once a youth too you know.

I have seen the youths of today at the local dance hall and although they are a little boisterous I can tell you they simply cannot compete with a number of American GIs I once knew vis a vis behaviour whilst intoxicated.

As for alcopops, perhaps the solution lies not in adjusting fiscal policy but to add a bitter flavour to the drink thus rendering them undrinkable.

And how exactly do you propose to persuade the drinks companies to make their products undrinkable?

ps GIs can look after themselves. Young girls face a few more risks.

When I was a young girl i could look after myself. I also knew exactly how to handle American GIs I can tell you.
I simply make the point that taxation policy initiatives are not required. Good parenting is at issue here
I know from my own upbringing what a benefit that brings.
I enjoy a quiet gin and tomic at night and have never become rowdy.
Everyone can do the same with good parenting, and I include your daughters in this.

Some seriously half witted posts on this thread eh Gezmond?

I still think some of us are missing the point here. I do not think that it so much about what the drink tastes or looks like rather than the motives behind the drinking it. I also have to say that a lot of the people who I deal with have not just been drinking alcopops, bottles of beer and conventional sprits also do a roaring trade.

Most of us on here seem to be from a wiser generation (perhaps!), and yes some of us went on the razz in our youth (and probably still do on occasions). I had lots of fun when at university (and still do when I go back to teach on occasions).

But when we went out as students etc did we really set out with the intention to get so paralytic that we became helpless as babies? I know that I would go out and get merry and engage in some “happy behaviour”, but I was always able to get home and never inflicted misery on others. The end point was to have a good night out and get a bit merry.

Many of the younger generation now set out with the absolute intention of getting pissed, bladdered, wrecked, slaughtered, or whatever other charming terminology they use. The end point for them is – well oblivion I guess, and believe me if it wasn’t for the skill of many of my colleagues many would achieve their goal, permanently.

Years ago we used to see people a bit merry and a few people with split lips and black eyes from the odd punch-up at closing time on a Friday or Saturday night (although most would take a taxi home to nurse their bruises, hangovers and embarrassment in private). Now we have drunken kids kicking innocent people to death and assaulting health service staff, and young men and women so paralytic drunk that they don’t know that they have engaged in sexual activity with a complete stranger until the next day. This now goes on nightly.

If young people are so hell bent on setting out to have a night like this no amount of alcohol taxation will stop them.

Hardcore Conservative, our popular media can show some commonsense on this issue. The continual portrayal of wasted celebrities in sunday magazines not only adds legitimacy to such behaviour but links it with successful members of our society. The recent comments by Philip Emafo at the United Nations gets to the core of the problem:

“Celebrities are often involved in illicit drug trafficking or in illicit drug use and this is glamourised,” he said. “If, indeed, they have committed offenses they should be dealt with.”

This can easily apply to alcohol when celebrities trash hotel rooms, are involved in violence, collapse in a drunken stupor etc. The media should be made to report such behaviour in the most negative of terms. A picture of a paralytic celebrity "Living it large on the town" should be subtitled "An embarassment and a disgrace" I hope David Cameron will make good his pledge of making the media adopt guidlines on irresponsible reporting likely to mislead the young.

I think we need to look back at history. William Wilberforce of Slave trading fame was also concerned about the general decline in standards of behaviour at the time. He and his friends found a solution by recruiting the Prince of Wales to lead by example in adopting a more responsible lifestyle. This in turn was copied by other high profile people and in turn led to society as a whole changing, so that when the Victorian age dawned there had been such a change that it lasted until the end of the second world war.

Sadly the sowing of untrammelled freedom of expression in the swinging sixties has sowed a whirlwind that is now buffeting society.

The answer is not to recruit the Prince of Wales, but his two sons and other high profile celebrities and encourage them to recognise the effect on good and ill they can have.

We also need to recruit the media to change their attitudes. If they were to criticise and mock so called celebrities for bad behaviour they would soon stop, if the BBC would stop "reflecting society" by promoting disgraceful behaviour in their soaps we might well change things. Who knows we might yet restore some sense of public decency again.

"But when we went out as students etc did we really set out with the intention to get so paralytic that we became helpless as babies? I know that I would go out and get merry and engage in some “happy behaviour”, but I was always able to get home and never inflicted misery on others. The end point was to have a good night out and get a bit merry."

Hardcore Conservative, your description chimes with my experiences 20+years ago. I never saw the scenes on the High street that are so depressingly common now, or anything akin to what is seen now at A&E dept's when I spent a spell working in one back then.

Recently I went out for an evening in the same high street that I frequented back then as student, we decided to walk home as it was a warm evening. Not 50 yards up the road, the couple walking and talking quietly holding hands in front of us was attacked and the male left on the ground bleeding by a group of drunken teenage thugs right in front of us. The injured man had neither looked in their direction never mind spoken to them, it was the most shocking thing to witness made even worse by the sheer randomness of this unprovoked attack.

"If young people are so hell bent on setting out to have a night like this no amount of alcohol taxation will stop them."

That's right. But a redistribution of tax to make "normal" drinks cheaper and alcopops more expensive might just help to steer young kids into more sensible drinking patterns.

"Sadly the sowing of untrammelled freedom of expression in the swinging sixties has sowed a whirlwind that is now buffeting society."

Stewart Geddes, very true. Often when I'm watching an old movie I feel like Winston Smith in 1984, looking for another world, another place in time that was better, more decent, more civilized. Movies may be fiction but they reflect the culture of the day and although I was only a child in the sixties I know that there was a better world before I was born. It can be no coincidence that every single older person that I have talked to about social breakdown always points to the 1960s as the beginning of social rot. In fact my grandad was more specific and he said that 1963 was the big turning point, he said after that year nothing was quite the same again.

There is no doubt that people copy behaviour, otherwise we wouldn't have people paying 40 quid for ripped jeans from the supermarket or walking around with metal pins in their face and mouth. So the behaviour of those in the limelight is essential in setting standards. Why is so much publicity given to people like Amy Whitehouse or Pete Doherty, if Liam Gallagher attacks a cameraman why is it front page news and not a case of assault? I was looking around the internet the other week and came across a 'news' item about a celebrity who had become pregnant, alongside the article there was a quiz as to who could be the father, there were 'eleven' candidates!

This is re-arranging deckchair politics.If the price of Special Brew goes up they'll demand more benefits or rob more.This is a 'let them drink meths' stunt from Gideon Antoinette.

Michael Mcgough
I'm curious...
Would you be the same michael mcgough who has recently written on the subject of bananas and cucumbers?

Why am I being punished by higher taxation for the actions of others and the inability of the state to police those people properly?

I note, of course, that Osborne will be reducing tax on ales for those elderly Conservative voters...

Surely this is an example of the sort of thing where the punishment could be made to fit the crime?

When we have got more police out on the streets, drunken youths could be "detained/arrested" for drunken behaviour in a public place and taken to hospital, if too ill, or to the nick (or home, if too young) and the parents presented with a bill.

Deborah,the answer is yes--you clearly read widely.

If Youth sat around smoking cannabis there would be a lot less trouble. You can't stop it so make it legal and enjoy the benefits. Sometimes I wonder if the drinks industry isn't funding some of the anti-weed activism.

Having looked carefully a the EU law, I would bet that Osborne can't do what he is proposing. See here.

Had you people bothered to pay a visit to the areas where "youth" binge drinking takes place, you will find that the favoured tipple equates to the affluence/deprivation of a particular area. In the area that I am familiar with it is Fosters lager, Smirnoff vodka and Red Bull, the reason I know this is because I walk the dog every morning passing the totally wrecked BT phone booth where the evidence of their drinking is strewn around, having dismantled the phone booth they have now started on the adjacent residents fencing.
So upping the tax on the cheaper products will only clobber the poorest bingers, for the rest, it will be business as usual.
Sounds like that other wheeze - charging for users of motorway fast lanes - fast lane = the rich, middle lane = public servants, inside lane and hard shoulder = free for the proletariat. What a laugh, if it were not so pathetic.

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