Prohibition’s rehearsal room

Today Kevin McKenna writes about the UK elite’s habit of using its former colonies as a testing ground for dubious social policy.

Last week the SNP government gave us Scotland’s version of Prohibition by setting a minimum price for alcohol and banning cheap drinks promotions. As Holyrood ministers vied with each other to adopt the most sonorous of tones they succeeded only in hectoring a nation. Think of Mr Cholmondeley-Warner in a See You Jimmy wig warning us how intoxicating liquor can only lead to unspeakable beastliness.

To justify this latest act of legislative interference in the personal lives of the citizenry they cited recent world health figures that placed Scotland at number eight in the league table of drinking nations.

Leave aside for a moment the suspicion that these numbers are grossly misleading as they fail to factor in the huge black market in hooch that exists in many other countries. It has now become clear that Scotland is becoming Westminster’s testing laboratory for an assortment of experiments in social engineering that would have been considered dystopian a generation ago. Two hundred and ninety two years had elapsed since the Treaty of Union, yet of all the ills that had afflicted the Scots under the English jackboot since, what did the new Holyrood political class choose to address first? That’s right, fox-hunting. Westminster duly followed.

Three years ago Scotland’s Labour administration outlawed smoking in public places, even though every poll showed that most people did not favour an outright ban. Within 18 months Westminster had passed similar legislation. Who will bet against a ban on alcohol special offers being introduced in England and Wales by the end of next year? Middle Britain has become obsessed with the alcoholic habits of its working-class youth. So they get howling with the drink, they want to fight the locals and they are eager to have lots of sex in a very truncated time-frame? The British aristocracy have been doing it for 400 years. They called it things like Empire-building and the Napoleonic Wars.

I also suspect that such policies are influenced by old imperial-romantic stereotypes of Scottish people as fiery, passionate, tribal Celtic alcoholics.


Labour unveils its new alcohol strategy campaign posters


One Response to “Prohibition’s rehearsal room”

  1. john problem Says:

    One is not too sure that the aristocracy ran around howling with drink, fighting the locals and being sexy, whilst building the empire or fighting Napoleon. Not even the French accused them of that. Except for the Scotsmen of course. Well known for their propensity for this kind of awe-inspiring social conduct. It’s a good thing we have a couple of Scots johnnies running things for us – even thought they were both lawyers and not a thought of economics ever sullied their minds – but surely, surely, they won’t cut back on our opportunities to drink. That would be too like social engineering, wouldn’t it?

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