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22-10-2016, 14:05
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Off-trade drinkers in Scotland will have been dismayed by the recent verdict from the Scottish courts that minimum alcohol pricing may indeed, contrary to a previous EU judgment, be legal. The issue is well summed up (http://health.spectator.co.uk/eus-business-scotland-introduce-minimum-pricing-alcohol/) by Christopher Snowdon with his usual aplomb and there’s very little that I can add.
It’s almost certain that there will be an appeal to the Supreme Court, but if the verdict is overturned it will inevitably be seen by the SNP as another example of Westminster interfering in Scotland’s affairs. It’s richly ironic that, while the SNP continue to have a love affair with the EU, its trade rules stood in the way of their flagship policy.
It’s worth pointing out that a 50p per unit minimum price would affect the majority of alcohol sold in the off-trade, in volume terms. It certainly isn’t something targeted at a small minority of unusually cheap drinks, as often suggested.
To be honest, part of me rather wants the Scots to go through with it and find out the hard way what a damaging and counter-productive policy it would be. It would do nothing to curb problem drinking while encouraging criminal activity in the form of bootlegging.

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