SNP losing the plot over suggestion to ban online drinks sales in Scotland

Irksome report in the Times (£) today regarding Scotland: 'Ministers seek ban on internet drink sales'.

The SNP administration at Holyrood really does seem to have it in for the drinks trade. The clampdown, which includes minimum unit pricing and a ban on bulk-buy discounts, is perhaps understandable given Scotland's ropey relationship with alcohol. The BMA claims that alcohol-related illnesses cause a death once every three hours in Scotland.

However, the SNP's tactics have variously been criticised as blunt, illiberal and even illegal (the minimum unit pricing policy is currently being challenged by the European Commission).

This latest suggestion - preventing Scots from buying discounted alcohol online - certainly takes the biscuit.

Quite how the SNP thinks this could even be policed is beyond me. Wine drinkers all over Britain can order from us: will the SNP barricade the border with temperance police?

Alcoholic drinks are splendid things in moderation. And though there are times when you just can't beat a pint of ale or refreshing G&T, we at Red Squirrel Wine would contend that wine is the most splendid of them all.

Yet even the drinks trade isn't going to claim that alcohol has no detrimental side effects. Alcohol abuse ruins relationships and claims lives. There ought to be public health policies in place to mitigate those side effects, provide for remedy and rehabilitation, awareness campaigns and so forth. There should also be some fiscal incentives - for instance a beer or wine duty escalator that takes proper account of alcoholic strength.

But politicians need to stop treating the drinks trade as a cash cow, or a pariah to be beaten with more knee-jerk, ill-thought policies after another. More recent attempts such as the minimum unit pricing policy have been shown to be bad laws with badly targeted intentions. They are rightly open to criticism.

This latest effort from the SNP should be open to little more than ridicule.


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