New Scottish Lib-Dem leader Willie Rennie, is the first of unionist cabal in the Scottish Parliament to jump ship and do a u-turn on the minimum pricing of alcohol. Whether this has more to do with kicking his party got at the election or an epiphany on the road to common sense, I’ll leave for you to decide.
One thing though, it’s high time that this peculiarly Scottish and irrational opposition to minimum pricing came to an end.
During the last Parliament the SNP proposed the introduction of a minimum pricing policy for alcohol. This was roundly supported by health experts, the police and the judiciary. The unionist opposition however, opposed and defeated it. They did so, not only in the face of qualified advice, but also, in case of the Tories and Lib-Dems, contrary to what their UK leadership was advocating.
For while the Scottish Tories were claiming that high prices would not solve alcohol abuse, their masters south of the border, in the shape of Chris Grayling and Iain Duncan-Smith, were outlining proposals to ban cheap supermarket drink deals in England and Wales.
The LibDems were also put in an embarrassing position with their spokesperson Robert Brown attacking minimum pricing in Scotland whilst the UK party’s shadow business spokesperson, Lorely Burt, was calling cheap supermarket booze the “biggest problem” and reiterating” her party’s support for minimum pricing.
Both these parties will hope that we don’t remind them of how foolish and petty they have been.
As for Labour?
Well their big idea, after a study designed to do nothing more than back their stance, was to ban the non-alcoholic Red Bull. Caffeine, rather than cheap cider and vodka were what blighted the streets of Scotland according to them. What was next? The banning of coffee mornings and machines in public places?
They’re opposition was only ever based on one thing. Their irrational hatred of the SNP.
It surely could not have been because they felt that their supporters were the ones who were buying the cheap booze.
The truth is that all three voted against this in fear of it being successful. A successful Scottish Parliament, passing laws that benefit the people of Scotland, is anathema to the unionists. They work in concert to belittle it, continuously trying to bring it down to the level of a village council. They have treated the Scottish Parliament with contempt. And they’ve paid the price for that.
When the Labour long knives are put back in their scabbards and if there is a Tory left to replace Annabelle Goldie, then they too should cut the crap and do something worthwhile for Scotland. Rather than portraying the country, its Parliament and its people as some Mickey Mouse entity that would die and wither if removed from the teat of the Union.
The unionist parties and their mouthpieces in the media will look stupid over this. We can only hope that in the future we don’t forget who they are.
Since the defeat of minimum pricing in the Scottish Parliament the UK Government has announced similar plans for England and Wales, as have Stormont ministers in Northern Ireland.