Here we go again with the government telling us how to live our lives. Just as we all have to drive over speed humps because of a few idiots behind the wheel, now they want us all to stump up more for our booze because of a section of irresponsible drinkers. While advocates of temperance might applaud this proposed price hike, its effects will be felt across the board if it comes into force.
Those with a drink problem, who need alcohol rather than want it, will procure their fix at whatever cost. They will achieve this by making cuts elsewhere in order to satisfy the very real craving they are at the mercy of from the moment they wake. For example, children who sometimes come home from school to fish fingers and chips will come home to chips, as financial priorities are rearranged.
Those wealthy, duty-dodging tobacco barons that every town has will expand their enterprises to include bootleg booze. Latter day rumrunners will be drafted in from the ranks of the unemployed to bring in cheap alcohol from France, and earn themselves a few quid on the quiet. This practice, known as booze cruises, was popular back in the 90s, but it fell into decline – partly because the availability of cheap alcohol in UK supermarkets made the transportation and selling of duty-free drink cost-ineffective. If this proposed price rise goes ahead, it may very well open the floodgates.
People getting together at parties or to watch movies at home might opt for alternative stimulants because of the prohibitive cost of alcohol. Recreational drugs are cheap and freely available. Peddlers will welcome this new trade, perhaps with the slogan why get drunk when you can have skunk?
So this proposal is potentially bad news for those of us who like a drink now and then, but good news for organized crime, French cash & carry outlets and drug dealers.
And with tobacco products now prohibitively expensive because of the duty charged, the black economy may be set for a period of growth that Osborne could only dream of.