Would Britain benefit from more political parties? — July 17, 2012

Would Britain benefit from more political parties?

[EDIT: Consider this argument post-electoral reform, not under FPTP ~ Cheers for this guys!]

We’re at a stand-still in British politics, cynics will call it the “mid-term blues” but I think it goes further than that. There is huge political apathy in Britain, voter turnout is continuously falling and the expenses scandal, combined with nearly every other scandal since has done nothing to disprove that all MPs are as “bad as each other.”

Britain has been a two-Party state now for long over 70 years, with many scholars and authors talking about a post-War consensus between the Labour Party and the Conservatives. You can debate the validity of such an idea until the cows come home (I know, I wrote 3,000 words on it easily!) The undeniable fact is that we live in a two-Party state, with no other Party seemingly able to make a significant impact. This is exasperated by the fact that the main Parties have rushed to the centre-ground in recent years, not really daring to be radical (seen as a dirty word) or too different from their opponents, in fear of losing votes. The 2010 General Election threw up an anomaly, allowing the Liberal Democrats to hold the key to power, but it was far from an election victory for the Party in the grand scheme of things. So, just how do we break the two Party stranglehold on power?

Split them up.

There are obvious divides with in all three major parties, with MPs and grassroots members forever moaning at their executive or backbenchers. The Labour Party remains divided and has been since 1994, even his name irks the Left of the Party. Tony Blair and his Blairite followers have been sidelined by Ed Miliband and the Unions, perfectly demonstrated by the attack on Progress (a “Blairite” think tank). So the Labour Party could easily split, with David Miliband leading a Blairite Labour movement. Allowing Ed Miliband to revive the Left and take his Party back to electoral abyss (or not, who knows what the electorate want)!

In the Tories the divide is as glaringly obvious. Cameron has attempted to modernise the Tories, and people within the Party don’t like it. Let Cameron start the New Conservatives, a more socially liberal Tory Party. Nadine Dorries and her socially backward friends can continue to conserve society, heck she might even bring back Feudal law or make Priests all powerful. We will call this Party the Dinosaur Party, complete with socially conservative members, incapable of moving on from 1872.

There is of course a split in the Liberal Democrats too. We’re far too often accused of “infighting” and not focusing on the other two Parties, but I’d say we’re guilty of it no more than other Parties. The Social Liberal Forum exists to promote just that, social liberal society, but for some (including me) that isn’t enough. They are happy to allow for the state to grow and support higher taxation and Keynesian policies. The “Orange Book” liberals, or classical liberals ‘run the Party executive’ and annoy the SLF with our all-round liberalness, including our economic liberalness (smaller state, lower taxes). The SLF could continue as the Liberal Democrats, headed by Tim Farron (the epitome of a “Lefty-Liberal”) and the [Classical] Liberal Party could be spear-headed by David Laws/Jeremy Browne.

Heck, even UKIP are divided. Their older, (slightly) xenophobic wing exist solely to leave the EU and berate life in general. They have a more socially liberal, even libertarian wing in the YI. They want an even smaller state than many of the “classic liberals.”

So instead of a two-Party state, we could have a real democracy with 6/8 smaller Parties. The great benefit is that people can choose a Party that really fits with their views, rather than having to settle into a Party that often conflicts with their ideals. Nobody agrees with every decision their Party makes, if you do, you are either a loyal MP, or a moron, incapable of engaging your own brain.

Here’s a (wild) estimation of where the Parties would exist on Political Compass.

Two quick polls:

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How to win votes and alienate people? — June 25, 2012

How to win votes and alienate people?

*This post is focused solely on David Cameron’s “plans post-2015” on housing benefit, not all his welfare reform speech*

There can be no doubt that David Cameron’s speech today on welfare reform shows how worried he is about his political life-span. It was a cry for help from the Tory right; a pledge to attack the “entitlement culture” in Britain; and the first sign of desperation from the normally perfectly assured Conservative leader.

Cameron is lost. Politically he doesn’t know where he stands, so he has done what any Conservative leader would do and has attacked welfare recipients, but crucially, YOUNG welfare recipients. He is seeking to perpetuate the myth that under-25s are lazy and feckless. We are far from it.  Why is he doing this? To win back the traditional Tory vote. His plan to slash housing benefits for under-25s (and save £1.8bn) is a perfect example of “conservatism”, it is a vote winner. Here’s the real killer, the vote he’s winning here is the over-60s vote, the key voting age (in terms of actual numbers). There is no doubt about it, cutting housing benefits for under-25s is the beginning of a vote winning series of policies from the Conservatives. Come 2015, they could be election winning policies.

The problem is, they are terrible policies. Ill-thought out, ill-timed and irresponsible. Anybody up for another round of omnishambles?

One million young people are unemployed, how is taking away £90 per week (on average) in housing benefit going to help young people? Removing housing benefit from anybody retrospectively is cruel. It is not the claimants fault that the Government’s expenditure has gotten out of hand, it is the Governments. On the one hand, the Government has said in the past ‘You clearly need financial help with housing, and we will provide £x to cover this based on your needs.’ They then turn around and say ‘People think you receive too much, we need their votes, so, sorry, but we’re taking it away, you probably still need £x, but oh well. Votes are more important than your housing benefit.’

The last Government and some of our pensioners are responsible for excessive spending and a housing bubble, which forced the average price of a home in the UK to over £225,000. Does David Cameron really think that the majority of under-25s can afford a 40% deposit? His idea is crazy.

The Government should be relaxing planning laws, and encouraging private enterprise to increase the housing stock in the UK. We need more affordable homes, with low interest rates businesses should be confident to invest, but our red-tape stands in their way.

Of course, there are disincentives within our welfare system that need to be tackled, but Cameron and the Tory-right are hoping that if they shout loudly enough and for long enough, people will believe them that benefit claimants are the scourge of this country. People are on benefits because they require financial help, not simply to “sponge” off the Government.  How about for once, we actually clamp down on tax evasion, instead of always focusing on demonising benefit claimants.

We spend £5bn on the universal benefit of a free bus pass for pensioners. Why not make that means tested and save the £2bn there, instead of attacking the next generation? Oh, because pensioners vote. How very cynical of you…

Why the Liberal Democrats were right on Jeremy Hunt — June 13, 2012

Why the Liberal Democrats were right on Jeremy Hunt

*Warning – this is a rant!*

I’ve seen a lot on Twitter today and in the news about why the Liberal Democrats were wrong to abstain today. Labour types everywhere have got their knickers in a twist over Jeremy Hunt’s handling of News Corporation and the BSkyB bid. Yes, he acted inappropriately. Yes, in an ideal world the Liberal Democrats should have forced David Cameron to refer him to the independent commission because he *did* break the Ministerial code. However, there is a lot more to the matter than that.

Firstly, are Labour so tribal that they are simply forgetting how close they were to the Murdoch’s and News Corp? For them to pretend to be so morally righteous is ludicrous, bordering on insulting to the memory of the general public.

Secondly, it would be wrong for the Liberal Democrats to openly go against their Prime Minister. It is a Coalition and we are the junior partner, we have to remember that. We don’t have an equal say in matters, we don’t deserve one, we only won 57 seats after all. However, we have one and we have a strong foothold in the Coalition and should be proud of our record so far. This whole story will be irrelevant come 2015, to use that famous phrase “its the economy, stupid!” This wasn’t worth breaking up the Coalition, far from it. We backed the Prime Minister and rightly so. Would Labour happily throw the country back into economic turmoil and political stability, simply over how close Jeremy Hunt was to Rupert Murdoch and his staff? I’d hope the answer was no, but with some of them, I’m just not sure.

Today, we didn’t do the right thing for our Party, but we did the right thing for the Country, and for that, we should never apologise.

Goodbye Tories. Hello Liberal Democrats! — May 4, 2012

Goodbye Tories. Hello Liberal Democrats!

Well, its been coming. Another insignificant Twitter defection. I won’t pretend that me jumping across to the Coalition’s junior Party means anything will change, or that anybody even cares about me doing so. But, I do write here often. Surprisingly, and thankfully a couple of hundred of you give me a read every now and then. So here’s my explanation on why I’ll be joining the Liberal Democrats.

I’ve always classed myself as a Liberal, but thought myself to be too Right-wing for the Liberal Democrats. But this definition of right and left is far too simplistic, and deeply confuses the matter. I’ve always been a huge fan of David Laws (ignoring his expenses fiasco) he is a superb politician and a great thinker. His work in the Orange Book along with Nick Clegg et al. is to be admired. I fully consider myself to be an Orange Booker. I have a liberal approach not only to social issues, but to economics. I am pro-business, pro-wealth and pro-growth and it is these economic believes have kept me in the Conservatives. Recent tax cuts are taking a step towards this. But I want more than that, I want lower taxes – for everybody. I understand, and support the Laffer curve principle for why the Coalition cut the top rate of tax from 50% to 45%, but just because the rich can avoid tax doesn’t mean they should be the only people to benefit from a tax cut in these difficult times. We should be cutting taxes across the board and encouraging people to spend and start up businesses.

Now this has been coming for a while, and it takes a lot of honesty and self-assessment to really admit this…

What is it about the Coalition that I like? Liberal Democrat policies. It was the Liberal Democrats who have taken millions out of income tax all together, not the Conservatives. They at least attempted to push for political reform.They are pushing for House of Lords reform, something I have argued for. I was a keen supporter of Yes2AV, putting me once more against the Conservatives. They introduced the pension reform which re-introduced the triple lock. The pupil premium helps gives kids from disadvantaged backgrounds a real chance in education. The Lib Dems have consistently pushed for more accountable democracy and are truly concerned about every member of society, not just big business, the unions, the rich or the Murdochs.

More concerning for me, what is it about the Coalition I don’t like? They are ALL Conservative politics. Tax breaks for married couples, equating to social engineering.  The NHS reform was a shambles, badly communicated, it will more than likely be badly administered. It offered top down reform, breaking a pre-election pledge. It increased the bureaucracy and pissed off everybody within the NHS.  Authoritarian extensions of Labour’s snooping laws, something they opposed in Opposition. Minimum alcohol pricing is deeply illiberal. Now they are talking about banning porn on the internet and blocking certain websites. North Korea must be thinking they are going to have some buddies in Europe soon. It turns out this Conservative government only pays lip service to liberalism, something I can no longer be a party to.

Things that worry me about both Parties? Further encroachment towards the EU. Yet, the Liberal Democrats support a referendum. I’m not a fan of referendums on the whole (I think those with vested interests can pour too much money into the debate – see AV referendum) but on remaining members of the European Union I feel that it is vital for the people of the UK to have their say. Increased borrowing – I can barely tolerate it, but if we simply cut away at the state in the manner some libertarians and UKIPers wanted, I honestly think there would be anarchy. You cannot simply cut, cut and cut public spending, sadly we are too reliant on it. To pull the rug from underneath the public sector would leave a sorry mess. We should continue to cut at the pace we are doing now, any further and we could be guilty of going “too far, too fast.” The Coalition is held together by a paper-thin promise to cut the deficit, and they are on track to do so by 2016. This has to remain the economic priority.

The Conservatives have taken a battering in the Local Elections, and already they cry for more “conservatism.” This is the tipping point for me, I want less conservatism and more liberalism. And that my friends, is why I will be joining the Liberal Democrats.

I have some friends in the Conservatives who will be reading this and I honestly think they will agree with me on a lot of what I’ve said, it’ll  be interesting if they take the leap with me. I’ll be looking to join up with the people at Liberal Reform and I hope they’ll join me!

Come 2015 I will be campaigning for the Liberal Democrats. Oh, and somebody owes me a meeting with David Laws!

I agree with Ed — May 1, 2012

I agree with Ed

Yes, believe it or not – I agree with Ed Miliband. Trust me, I was as surprised as you are. You are in the right place I promise you. A Conservative is openly agreeing with Ed Miliband. Worse yet, its yet another Tory policy I disagree with. Maybe I am in the wrong Party after all

This week’s horror show policy idea (baring in mind its only Tuesday!) is the idea to give married couples a tax break. To many, on the face of it this doesn’t seem like such a bad policy, but trust me – it is.

“A High Court judge is launching a campaign to champion the institution of marriage as “the most stable family structure” for raising children.” What a load of garbage. I don’t know what reality this judge is living in, but there are plenty of people who are brought up by single parents, step-parents and same-sex parents. The idea that children are better off simply because their parents remain married is bogus, its a sweeping generalisation. Children are individuals, whose cases will differ from child to child.

As Ed Miliband so succinctly put it (never thought I’d write that here!)

“But in the end what matters most is the strength of your commitment and whether you provide a good and loving home to your children. That comes in different forms. It’s really important to say that.”

But there is a more philosophical point behind this policy idea. To give married couples any form of tax break suggests to the public that being married is better than cohabiting. The Government is encouraging people to get married with a tax incentive, it is clearly stating that marriage is the better option for couples and that people should be rewarded for remaining married. It is social engineering in its most blatant form.

The state should remain neutral in social issues such as this, it shouldn’t be showing a preference to one party over another.

Beyond the sorry mess of the idea, how would they go about implementing the policy? Would it be for all married couples? Couples married after the tax break is introduced? How much would it cost? How would they cut it off? Would it be a flat tax break, or progressive? Would it encourage more “sham” marriages? Would same-sex couples receive it? (I highly doubt this by the way, this is a policy being pushed by the Right of the Party, who are against “marriage” for same-sex couples – making the policy even more repugnant).

Overall, tax breaks are a shambolic idea being suggested by the Right wing of a Party who wants less state intervention, but is paradoxically suggesting the complete opposite.

Ed Miliband is completely right to oppose the policy and for that, I congratulate him.

Is is time for me to leave the Conservatives? — April 25, 2012

Is is time for me to leave the Conservatives?

Well, well, well. Omnishambles indeed. Where to start? The Conservatives have had an absolute disastrous month or so. I might as well start with the biggest of all screw ups. The UK is back in recession. There’s no spinning the fact, back to back quarters of negative growth is a disaster, it puts the UK in real danger, the Eurozone is a mess and the UK could lose its credit rating and the markets confidence, which was crucial to George Osborne’s Plan A.

Recent news this past week offered the UK some “good news” the Government was borrowing less than before, a fall in real terms of approximately 10% to (wait for it)… £126bn. It’s not a fall in borrowing at all, its a fall in the rate. Conservatives and Cameron especially are quick to remind Labour that you don’t get out of a debt crises by piling on more debt. But that is EXACTLY what the Coalition is doing. Austerity hasn’t even kicked in yet, with estimates that 15% of the spending cuts have actually occurred as of this month. There is a lot more to come, and sadly Plan A isn’t working right now.

Worryingly for the people of Britain, the alternative to Plan A offered up by Labour seems to be a mix between taxing bankers and spending the same money, a number of times over and a Keynesian borrowing scheme. In reality they have no costed, credible alternative, and as Ed Miliband and his followers will tell you, its all part of the electoral game. The Coalition’s plan clearly isn’t working, but, and we can only play counterfactuals here, the Labour borrowing plan would be far worse.

Moving on to Yesterday’s fiasco. Jeremy Hunt is being hounded to resign (at the time of writing his Special Advisor has just resigned) because of his role in News Corporation’s bid for BSkyB. Hunt is accused of essentially pushing the deal through for News Corp. and not remaining impartial in his role. Another blow for the Conservatives. But guess what, once again Labour are guilty of hypocrisy. Ed Miliband called on Vince Cable to be sacked for standing up to the Murdochs, now wants Hunt sacked for rolling over for them? Its hardly like the Labour Party were never close to the Murdoch’s, or gave them access to their highest ministers. I’m sure Tony Blair never spoke to Rupert Murdoch – despite being a Godfather to one of his children.

So where does a disgruntled Conservative turn? Certainly not to Labour. They lack credibility on the economy, they are an opportunistic Party, too concerned with playing the electoral game and are stuck with a weak leader propped up by the Unions. If you think I’m wrong to say that – check out Ed Miliband last night. When pushed on what cuts he’d reverse he merely replied that he would “tell you at the next election.” It is utterly deplorable that in such tough times Labour politicians and supporters are more concerned about seeing a Labour majority in 2015 than working constructively with the Coalition.

What about to the Liberal Democrats? Well its certainly not a huge leap across the political spectrum to join the junior party of the Coalition. But it would be political suicide. The Liberal Democrats have been used as cannon fodder. Come 2015 (if the Coalition lasts that long) the British public will be reminded of the Tuition Fee betrayal, a failed attempt at political reform with AV and most likely the House of Lords and frequently backing reform they originally opposed. Worse yet for the Liberal Democrats, their successes will be stolen. It will be COALITION policy that took millions out of income tax all together, COALITION policy that re-introduced the triple lock for pensioners and COALITION policy that tackled tax avoidance. With all the apathy aimed at the Liberal Democrats, I fully expect them (wrongly) to struggle in the Local Elections and subsequently the General Election in 2015.

What about UKIP? Farage Fever took over last week when UKIP polled above the Liberal Democrats. This surge lasted all of a week and ICM/Guardian had them back at 3% shortly after. UKIP have a lot of good policies, there is no mistaking that, but how many of them are feasible? It is easy to promise the World when you have no chance of being asked to deliver. We aren’t going to leave the EU any time soon, we can see that by Osborne sending the IMF another £10bn (a policy Labour aren’t sure if they support or not!) Whilst this is unlikely UKIP will forever remain a one issue Party in the eyes of the electorate. Their welcoming of Roger Helmer, whose views on rape and homosexuality are abhorrent has really put me of UKIP lately. There are a large number of their members who are xenophobic, you only have to ask them about immigration and their desire for a cap. It is not a libertarian party, far from it, it simply has a handful of libertarian members. Crushingly for UKIP, the big two, Labour and the Conservatives destroyed the Yes2AV campaign enshrining a two-party system in the UK for the foreseeable future. I wouldn’t even back UKIP to pick up a single seat in 2015.

The UK political scene is in a dire mess, we have no credible alternatives. Is it time for me, and the country to ditch the Conservative Party just yet? Maybe not, but we’re very close.

Trying to second guess Ed Balls’ logic — April 18, 2012

Trying to second guess Ed Balls’ logic

I might be being overly generous here, but perhaps Ed Balls is playing a political master-stroke today.

He and the ever grating Rachel Reeves have tabled an amendment to the Finance Bill which will be debated today. His proposal which you can read here will remove the 45p tax band from 2013. Leaving the top rate of tax officially undecided, or 40p, the next highest band.

But maybe, just maybe it’s a clever move by Balls. Surely the Conservative’s will have to oppose the move, because they have just published a budget calling for a 45p tax band. If they could have afforded to cut the band to 40p, surely they would have done so? So, by calling out the Tories to back a 40p band and then them backing higher taxes, can Balls and Miliband spin their cock up against Osborne and Cameron. Tories voting in favour for higher taxes (as opposed to Labour’s scrapping off it) won’t sit well if it comes out in the media with grass root voters.

As I said, maybe I’m just being kind, maybe its yet another cock up by the ever incompetent Keynesian. After all, they did technically abstain on the bill in the past.

Reviving Right to Buy — April 3, 2012

Reviving Right to Buy

David Cameron and Grant Shapps today announced the revival of one of Mrs Thatcher’s most popular policies – the Right to Buy. The Act allowed people living in social housing to purchase their home from the Government at a discounted rate (depending on how long they had resided there). At the 2011 Conservative Party Conference, Cameron had pledged to increase the discounts available. The idea is to encourage hard-working families to get themselves on to the property ladder, to join the self-sufficient middle classes. A step up in the world if you will. Cameron said:

I want many more people to achieve the dream of home ownership. In the 1980s, ‘Right to Buy’ helped millions of people living in council housing achieve their aspiration of owning their own home.

The scheme is fantastic in principle. But, and believe me I hate having to do this… As Polly Toynbee rightly pointed out ten years ago:

The forgotten fact is that although it was life-changing for many of the 1.5 million who have bought their homes, in many places – the nations’ property hot-spots – it has been a calamity now turning into a crisis because there was no policy to replace all the lost social housing.

The Government has to use the receipts to replace the homes taken off the market, if possible it should be done on a one-for-one basis. If we simply plod along with a repeat of the 1980s version and don’t learn the lessons then it will be a disaster. We shouldn’t favour an increase in social housing ownership over helping first-time buyers, we should be pushing the two together. The new scheme will create jobs in the housing industry which is good news, but the real drive in the industry has to come from the private sector, not the state.

Another issue is that the Government must change its legislation that allows the home owners to rent out their council house, the Government can be praised for aiding people into home-ownership, but the state shouldn’t be allowing people to profiteer at the expense of the majority of taxpayers.

Tories on… — March 8, 2012

Tories on…

Day 3 of focusing on where the UK’s political parties are going wrong, brings us to the Conservatives. You can read about Labour and UKIP on here and here!

Now I won’t re-hash a lot of old posts on Minimum Alcohol Pricing, or how the Government should drop the NHS bill to replace it with a National Health Insurance Scheme. Please read their respective links! But I’ll chalk that up as two major points. In fact, I’ve talked a lot about where the Conservatives have been going wrong lately, even partly criticising the benefit cap.

So, guess what. I’m going to change the game. Lets see where the Tories are doing well!

Tories on Education

You could be forgiven for thinking we were still living under Tony Blair’s Premiership, the early days of the Government was dominated by one word. “Education, education and education.” And education has been one of the great successes of Conservative Policy so far. Academies and free-schools have taken off, and are often over subscribed. We should be proud to want to the most out of brightest pupils and Michael Gove’s new specialist schools are doing just that. GSCE rates are improving in some academies at twice the rate as state-ran schools. The academies have been a resounding success, and long may they continue to prosper.

Add to this, the fact Apprenticeships have increased by 177,000 and you can see how well the Conservatives have done in this area!

Tories on Benefits

Despite criticising the benefit cap in an earlier post, the overall cap is a good idea, it just needs tinkering with, or an improvement in housing! But one thing the Conservatives have really succeeded with is their idea of Universal Credit. The Universal Credit is set to replace the myriad of benefits we have now and be one streamlined system. It will make benefits easier to claim, but MOST crucially it will make working beneficial from the first pound. Gone will be the days of 95% tapering.

“Universal Credit: welfare that works marks the beginning of a new contract between people who have and people who have not. At its heart, Universal Credit is very simple and will ensure that work always pays and is seen to pay.”


Tories on same-sex marriage

At their 2011 Conference, David Cameron announced that he supported same-sex marriage and that he would begin legislating for it as soon as possible.

“Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other.

“So I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative.”

This debate is almost coming to fruition. Yes there are archaic relics who remained bigoted in the Conservative Party, some in fact who were involved in politics during the horrendous Section 28 days, something that any modern Tory should be ashamed of. But they are in the minority, the new, shiny Conservatives led by David Cameron believe in equal rights, and I hope this bill is passed. Then it will be up to couples and ministers/priests to choose if they want to marry.

Tories on Tough Decisions

Tough decisions are unpopular decisions, that is a matter of fact. Cameron comfortably polls ahead of Ed Miliband in leadership characteristics, such as “decisive”, “sticks to what he believes in” and “likely to make tough decisions.” The Tories have made tough decisions on the economy, and where to wield the axe on public spending. Now the Conservatives have two very tough decisions to make in the next couple of weeks in the run up to the Budget.

Firstly, we should continue on the road to scrap Child Benefit for the top 15% of society, there is no justice in people on £14k p.a. paying towards footballers and politicians (as extremes) benefits. Yes, we would be breaking a pre-election pledge. But it is a tough, pragmatic decision, and one we need to stick to. I think the bill does need some tinkering with, as a single parents are handicapped by the current wording.

Secondly, we NEED to scrap the 50p tax band. It will be unpopular, because it will be seen as “same old Tories, only looking after the rich and screwing over the poor.” But what George Osborne has to make PERFECTLY clear is that the current 50p tax rate is hurting the poor. People are avoiding the 50p tax band, and the Government is actually losing revenue, if they continue to do so, the country will suffer, there will be less taxes to redistribute.

At the same time he should stick to his guns, bring in the £10,000 threshold, a Liberal Democrat policy and avoid a Mansion Tax (another LD policy!)

Minimum Alcohol Pricing – No Thank You! — March 4, 2012

Minimum Alcohol Pricing – No Thank You!

David Cameron is often right about a lot of things, he has in my mind successfully modernised the Conservative Party. But boy, when he’s wrong, is he wrong! Minimum pricing on alcohol isn’t a new debate, but it is one I’m going to wade into. Mainly due to a brief argument I had with Chris last night, but also because I’d like to articulate why it is a deeply illiberal idea.

Being a liberal sometimes puts me at odds with the Conservative leadership, and 99% of the time at odds with the Labour Party.

Chris, like David Cameron advocates a minimum price per unit of alcohol in an attempt to curb binge drinking and reduce the costs to the state of alcohol related crime and NHS treatments. But they are wrong to do so…

For starters, let’s get one thing straight. The state has absolutely NO business telling its people what it can and cannot put in their body. We are autonomous beings, we do not need the state interfering in the private sphere. I have talked about this kind of interference before in a post about legalising drugs, the same principles obviously apply. (Once again I get to use a favourite quote of mine!)

If freedom means anything it must surely include the freedom to engage in activities which others may consider unwise. This includes smoking, overeating, not exercising, driving “off road” cars in cities, even winning goldfish. A Liberal society is one where people should be free to make their own mistakes. – David Laws

The state should remain neutral, it should not be advocating an Aristotelian good life, proclaiming that drinking alcohol is morally bankrupt. It is exactly this kind of moral hypocrisy that the Conservatives should be looking to shed.

Moving away from philosophy of the matter and onto the practical side of a minimum price scheme, it still remains an abhorrent idea. Who do you think suffers from a minimum price? The poor.

Chris suggested that “It won’t most hit the poor, it’ll most hit those who drink to excess.”

Chris is wrong here to suggest that it will hit those who drink to excess and not the poor. There will of course be cases where those who drink to excess also happen to be poor. But guess what, as Zadok points out “The figures actually suggest that it’s the rich who have the drinking problem, not the poor, so why is Minimum Alcohol Pricing being pushed when it would have no effect whatsoever on the richest?”

It is the poor who would be hit by a minimum price, they would have to forgo other parts of their income to continue their drinking. Drinking is an addiction don’t forget, so it would not be easy for them to stop. A minimum price will have no effect on the binge culture of Britain. It will further demonise and hamper the poorest in society, whilst the rest of us won’t even realise it has been brought in.