Last year’s news that our government had dropped its 2012 plans to slap a minimum price on alcohol were welcomed by those who felt it was always going to be downright daft to penalise millions of moderate drinkers to pay for the excesses of a few immoderate ones. Much fairer, surely, to make drunk and disorderly a much more serious crime, with seriously larger penalties, this reflecting the damage to the community done by the binge-drinkers and the burden on the police and health services?
Now, it is alleged, the government’s sensible U-turn was due to pressure put on them by the powerful alcohol lobby, at hundreds of often secret meetings. It is also alleged that reports revealing some benefits of minimum alcohol pricing were buried until after the U-turn decision was made.
Voters are right to worry about the access large companies have to government ministers through their lobbyists, especially when cash opens the dining-room doors and the ministers are little more than “taxis for hire”, as one compliant one famously put it. It is also seriously worrying when company profits can take precedence over saving lives, as happened with the tobacco lobby for many years, and many deaths.
However, if the allegations are true it could just be a question of the right thing ultimately being done, albeit allegedly for the wrong reasons. And most will see nothing much wrong with that.