Lets begin under no false pretences, I am a uni student, (a fresher in fact) so I drink. A lot. In fact when David Cameron rants about binge drinking youths, it’s probably my friends and I that he is referring too. I’m not saying we start club brawls or have casual sex (ahem) but we “get on it” like the majority of people our age, it almost feels like part of our degree!
It’s recently hit headlines that our Prime Minister is back on his mission to tackle our binge drinking epidemic. (yes, epidemic.) BBC News reports: “Prime Minister David Cameron has called for bars, supermarkets and the drinks industry in England to do more to help ensure responsible drinking.”
Well that sounds like a jolly good good plan, Dave. We are all too-aware of the effects of alcohol abuse (health and social) and it is undeniably an issue in this country. I’m sure many of us have seen our friends, or perhaps been ourselves, like this…
It’s almost an achievement if you can wake up the next day boasting that you remember nothing, you’re not sure where you woke up and you’re pretty sure that’s not the haircut you had when you went out. Last thing you remember was ring of fire?
On a serious note, we have a huge issue with drink in this country, perhaps even more so because people like me don’t consider it an issue, more just a part of life. Maybe that’s the problem?
Regardless, Dave is on his mission to sober us all up. He said: “Every Friday and Saturday night A&E can be overrun with people drunk and incapable who have injured themselves.” His first tactic? Cut out the cheap booze.
On the surface this seems like a good idea. If you can’t buy a 2 litre bottle of cider for £3 then you just won’t get drunk right? Well, not really. You’ll just pay more instead. It really is that simple.
I’m no doctor, I can’t recommend a fix-it cure for our piss-head generation but I do know that the extortionate price of cigarettes has made little difference to the amount of smokers. I know that drinking plays a main role in the UK’s idea of fun and I know that if my cider goes up by a few quid, that just means my overdraft will too.
I wonder why our Government can only ever tackle issues with a surface “quick-fix” cover up scheme. A temporary price hike won’t stop a binge drinking culture, understanding why people feel they need to drink to have fun might be a better solution. We only have to look at our “war on drugs” to see that criminalisation and limitation has sod-all effect and it is in fact rehabilitation and combating the underlying issues that actually makes a difference. Perhaps if Captain Cameron and his team stopped cutting services left, right and centre then young people (and adults, lets not leave out the 40-something-piss-heads) would be able to afford something else to do.
Youth clubs are proven to be a fantastic deterrent from under-age drinking – it’s something to do with your mates that is cheap (or even free). Yet more than £100m will have been axed from local authority youth services by April this year according to the Confederation of Heads of Young People’s Services. That’s an almighty blow. You can’t keep cutting things, hiking up the prices and expecting it all to fit into place. It seems the proposals are completely disconnected from reality.
What’s more, we shouldn’t forget the hypocrisy behind Dave’s ideas. Prior to him becoming the protaganist in the conservatives finest moments, the tory leader was earning £28,000 per year via his role with Urbium PLC (aka Novus Leisure). These are the people who own the bar/restaurant/club chain Tiger Tiger who constantly promote their cheap-drinks, student discounts and alcohol-selling staff incentives.
Portsmouth university students crown Tiger Tiger as one of their most favoured and student-friendly night-clubs.
This is snapshot from Tiger Tiger’s website today. Check out the happy hour advertisement at the bottom. Now don’t get me wrong, I like the place, and I like cheap drinks. But why is it ok to sell cheap drinks here but not in corner shops? Surely they’re all part of the same problem? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Dave still has £40,000 shares in Novus Leisure…
So to summarise, Mr Cameron is selling us a fix-it idea that is not only going to be completely ineffective but it is another hypocritical double-standard from the guy who doesn’t even have to pay for his own alcohol consumption.
I think I need a drink.