"Alcohol is your trouble" said the sheriff to the drunk. "Alcohol alone is responsible for your present predicament." The drunk looked pleased as he said, "Yer lairdship's maist kind. A'body else says it's ma ain fault!"
Substitute Scottish government for sheriff and you can see how the Scots have come up with these new proposals to tackle alcohol abuse.
Here are their latest efforts:
1. Create a separate checkout line at the supermarket. A sort of walk of shame, if you will. If anything this would just aggravate me but I'd still get in line. People who drink til they puke in the streets are probably pretty oblivious to the whole "walk of shame" thing. All that proposal does is inconvenience shoppers.
2. A ban on sales to under 21's in shops. But only in shops. If you want to nip down to the pub or go to a bar or restaurant and you're under 21 then that's ok. Does this make any sense at all? I've seen plenty of drunken teenagers hanging out of pubs on a Friday nite here in London, I don't think it's any different up North.
3. The last proposal is a 35 pence per unit tax on alcohol. It's the same old tax and spend. I wonder what that money is earmarked for? Raising taxes doesn't seem to work, all it does is penalize responsible drinkers and add money to the government coffers. What they should do is ensure that supermarket beers, ciders and alcopops are reasonably priced. If you can walk into a supermarket and buy beer for 20p a can, there is something wrong with the pricing policy. Lumping wine into this category is just plain wrong in my view. How many kids get drunk on a Cotes du Rhone or Bordeaux? Cider and beer are cheaper and (from the binge drinkers point of view) taste better and get you drunk faster.
Rather then coming up with all these silly ideas, what the Scottish government should be doing is looking at the root causes of the alcohol problem in Scotland. But then, they would actually have to do some hard work addressing the social ills of the country and it's much easier to throw out headline grabbing proposals.