ALCOHOL has been on my mind recently. The debate in Scotland has centred on the SNP government’s failed attempt to ban under-21s from buying booze from off-licences.
It was a flawed idea and deserved to fail. But I do wonder why there’s a smirk, or even a sneer, not far below some of the criticisms made of the nationalists’ so-called war on alcohol. Don’t politicians and the commentariat realise the immense damage done to our society and our country by the misuse of alcohol?
My late mother always used to answer criticism of her only hobby – smoking – by pointing out that the health effects of tobacco were tiny compared with those of alcohol. And she was right. I don’t have to repeat the litany, you’ve all heard it before – accident and emergency units on a Saturday night, the number of alcohol-fuelled violent attacks in the street and, arguably worse, in the home.
When was the last time you heard of someone becoming violent because they had just chain-smoked 20 Benson and Hedges?
So perhaps instead of scoring political points off each other on the issue, the political parties could work together to try to find solutions. In the current session of Holyrood, we’ve had at least three reviews of the parliament’s constitutional powers. How about a commission that may actually have a positive effect on the people we represent? What about a cross-party commission on alcohol abuse? The conclusions would not be binding on MSPs, but it would perhaps come up with two or three serious proposals that would command broader support than what the SNP has proposed and had knocked back.
I’m as much in favour of political knock-about as anyone. But alcohol – or rather, its abuse – is destroying individuals and families in every one of our communities. It’s time we started coming up with solutions instead of headlines.