Minimum pricing for alcohol was a SNP Policy that was brought forward under the disastrous tenure of Scotland’s unpopular Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon when health minister.
It is a policy that punishes the poor working class Scots -who have done nothing wrong!
It is a Nicola Sturgeon policy.
The SNP despite opposition has decided to press forward with this however, it emerged five European wine-producing nations had branded minimum pricing for alcohol as illegal, unfair and ineffective.
France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Bulgaria are effectively standing up for working class Scots against the Scottish National Party, the party of Salmond, the party of Sturgeon, the party of the rich!
Current Health Sec Alex Neil has vowed to fight if a challenge to the SNP plans ends up in the European Court.
France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Bulgaria argue that minimum unit pricing breaches European free trade law by discriminating against imported alcohol products. It is a point; my preferred option to combat underage drinking was to raise the age limit from buying from an off sale to 25 years of age and impose stiff penalties for people who sell and buy for youngsters.
Mario Moniz Barreto, secretary general of the Portuguese Spirits Association said:
"There is no demonstration that this measure will have an effect on the people it is trying to protect."
It will end up that people will pay higher prices at the expense of items like food.
Unsurprisingly Holyrood has already passed legislation which seeks to introduce a minimum price for alcohol of 50p per unit; Holyrood will pass anything no matter how stupid because it is SNP controlled.
Although the Court of Session has already dismissed a legal challenge by the Scottish Whiskey Association to minimum pricing, saying then that "the measures were not incompatible with EU law".
We should remember, the Court of Session has a habit of backing SNP controlled Holyrood only to be shot down by a higher court.
Does this measure represent a barrier to trade?
Possibly, people will only pay so much for a product before it isn’t seen as viable.
Also the SNP accusation "about dealing with the very specific problem we have of alcohol abuse in Scotland" isn’t proven; not all drunken brawls are the result of buying from off sales.
The evidence is the amount of people arrested after brawling in the streets after binge drinking in pubs.
This measure doesn’t affect the licence trade.
It is therefore discriminatory to a section of the public.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, Alex Neil said:
"Within Europe we are allowed, if the measure is proportional, to deal with a social problem, you are allowed to introduce measures like minimum unit pricing. Our argument is this is a very proportional measure to deal with a very substantial problem."
That argument is certainly challengeable on its legal basis of justification.
As to the legal challenges, Neil was quick to say:
"We've already had round one in the Court of Session with the Scotch Whisky Association and the Court of Session considered the European law aspect of this, as well as Scots law. We won hands down."
It is a different matter however when the SNP have no control or influence such as when they took other issues to outside bodies such as the UK Supreme Court.
So, the SNP will go the full way, their case is that Scotland is a ‘nation of drunks’ who need to be controlled by taking more money out of their pockets and handing it to drink makers.
Mr Barreto told BBC Radio Scotland that "part of our objection has to do with the fact that we perceive this measure as an ineffective measure to fight alcohol abuse or misuse".
He says there was no evidence "that these types of measures, based on minimum pricing per unit, have any demonstrable effectiveness."
Barreto also added:
"We live in a free trade market area, the measure applied in one country is bound to have an effect on all the others. We have extreme opposition to measures we perceive to be ineffective and there is no demonstration that this measure will have an effect on the people it is trying to protect. Even though the products I represent are high quality, they may have a lower price. This is one of the key points for their competitiveness in a very regulated, highly-taxed market such as the Scottish or the UK markets. This measure will impose a detrimental obstacle to entry of new products of quality, but which at the same time may be a more competitive price, to the Scottish market. The Portuguese government, along with several other governments in the European Union, has voiced their opposition against this measure, which could be perceived as a protectionist measure."
So, the SNP case is quite straight forward, Scotland is a ‘nation of drunks’ who can’t handle their booze, but nothing will be done about the real problem of binge drinking in pubs and fights in the street.
This is all about punishing the poorest in society who can’t afford to drink in pubs or prefer their own company.
Another pig in a poke courtesy of Scotland’s unpopular Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who given the collapse of independence support appears to be losing friends and allies at a rate of knots.
Luckily her ministerial salary is so high that she can get her booze by the crate load, she isn’t affected by her stupid ill judged idea which just punishes the poorest in society.
Nicola really 'cares'....... aye right!
Nicola really 'cares'....... aye right!
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University