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Idiots Of The Week: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers

“Pubs to display alcohol units in public health ‘responsibility deal’” shouts, or at least mumbles, The Telegraph

The article is a list of Healthist claptrap, which the foolish industries have “voluntarily” agreed to; displays of alcohol “units”, warning labels, reductions in the palatability of food, demands we’re all familiar with now. But the doozy in the article is this-

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, an influential trade body, has told its members: “Ministers have made it clear that signing up to the deal will be taken into account in considering new legislation in these areas.

“This could help fend off further calls for action from the health lobby.”

For sheer stupidity, it really takes the (trans-fat free) cake. Let’s just revel in the dim-wittedness of that again-

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, an influential trade body, has told its members: “Ministers have made it clear that signing up to the deal will be taken into account in considering new legislation in these areas.

Many years ago, Enoch Powell coined the term “The Rule Of The Threat Of Law” to describe this. (For students of Conservative history, it also turns up in The Selsdon Manifesto, which arguably was the first stirrings of a classical liberal Conservative reaction that culminated in Thatcherism). But anyway, I’m digressing-

TROTTOL is now routine. Somebody is called in to see the minister, and he is told, “We want you to do this voluntarily. If you don’t, we’ll force you to by legislation.” In other words, the same kind of “voluntary” as holding a woman by the throat and telling her that if she doesn’t agree to sex, you’ll rape her. Astonishingly, The Association Of Licensed Multiple Retailers are taking this at face value. Can’t you just see their idiot pride at fending off legislation? Sigh.

But here’s the real crowning moment of FAIL-

“This could help fend off further calls for action from the health lobby.”

Sorry, let’s just hear that again.

“This could help fend off further calls for action from the health lobby.”

Can’t you just imagine this-

The scene: a sparklingly fluorescent meeting room at Alcohol Concern’s headquarters. Don Shenker looks around the conference table at the assembled activists, resplendent in their white bonnets and collars and their tall hats, his face all grim with foreboding. “I have terrible news,” he intones in his dour, Presbyterian voice, “I’m afraid it’s all over. We’re finished. Sunk. The Satanic Alcohol Industry has won.”

A shiny eyed young lady with scrubbed complexion asks, her lips a tremble, “But how, Don? What has happened?”

Don clasps his hands together under his chin. “I’m afraid,” he says, “they’ve totally outfoxed us. They agreed to put units on the pump clips. We were never expecting that. There’s nothing we can do. It’s a masterful stroke by Satan.

“After this meeting, I have no choice but to commence winding up the Temperance Movement. We have no further role to play. I’m afraid we’re all going to have to go out and find real jobs.”

Does anyone find that even vaguely plausible?

What astonishes me is the naivete of the spokesman. They have seen this process with tobacco. Do they really have such a lack of understanding of how the puritan lobby works? Do they really not realise that this isn’t a way of putting them off; that it is instead seen as a win, as a victory, as an encouragement to further action? Do they not realise that everything the industry agrees to do, or is forced to do, is just a step on the road to the next stage of gradualist prohibition? How can anybody- especially somebody who is supposedly employed to act on behalf of the industry- be so naive?

Dear Mr Association Of Licensed Multiple Retailers, get this through your head. They are not interested in “moderate” drinking. They are not interested in some sort of reasonable compromise. They want you destroyed, and if you are foolish enough to help them, they will not even thank you. They will take your agreement as an agreement that you are indeed pedlers of an evil poison, and note your every acceptance of that fact with your naive “cutting down drinking” industry campaigns. And they will use that fact against you. At some point you will find that you are not even invited to the meetings any more. You will find that all your compliance was for naught, and that all it did was to hasten your ruin. You will be told to put your beer in plain bottles, and hide it from view, and then eventually not able to sell it at all. You are not dealing with reasonable people. You are dealing with fanatics. How hard is it to comprehend this? If you don’t grow a backbone, you are doomed.

One can only presume that these people don’t read anything outside their little corporatist bubble. They don’t think outside that bubble either. Presumably they don’t ever bother to read excellent blogs that could explain to them what is happening, like Dick Puddlecote or Velvet Glove, Iron Fist or Frank Davis or The Pub Curmudgeon or numerous others. They must sit there in splended isolation in their own committee rooms, saying “Well, we’ll just do this thing, then they’ll be satisfied. Yeah, that’ll work.” And then all slap each others’ stupid backs.

At times like this, I sometimes feel that if people can be this stupid, perhaps they deserve all they get. And get it they will. In spades. Oh yes.

14 Comments

  1. Angry Exile says:

    Heads so firmly in the sand that they didn’t hear David Nutt claiming that no level of alcohol consumption is safe. Oh well. When people are all growing their own baccy and brewing their own booze I’m sure these various trade bodies will be proud of the way they stood up for whatever tattered shreds remain of their respective industries.

  2. JuliaM says:

    “What astonishes me is the naivete of the spokesman. They have seen this process with tobacco. Do they really have such a lack of understanding of how the puritan lobby works? Do they really not realise that this isn’t a way of putting them off; that it is instead seen as a win, as a victory, as an encouragement to further action?”

    The triumph of hope over experience…

  3. How can anybody- especially somebody who is supposedly employed to act on behalf of the industry- be so naive?

    I can answer that one. The spokesperson – usually the PR – will often be hopping mad, but at the level where these decisions are taken the stick is often just for show.

    The real inducement is already in at chairman and CEO level, or near there, and hinges around possible gongs, being ‘one of us’, and a certain flattery that politicians phone up and appear to take notice of what one says.

    The reality is, the pol has already done a deal with the pressure group, under the lunatic delusion that this is a vote-winner, or maybe just a money winner. The pol must now deliver on their side of the bargain; legislation and company cooperation. The MP only has a few tools in their kit; they can muck about with legislation or they can go straight to the mixture of ego-massage and arm-twisting. As the second allows them to go back to the pressure group and say”there, done it”, guess which they choose.

  4. Lynne says:

    Corporate head up arse syndrome, like its more virulent political mutation, is endemic. We need to purge the infection because it is untreatable.

  5. Whenever I buy drinking alcohol (wine, beer, spirits, etc), there look to be two pieces of information invariably available: (i) the volume of liquid; (ii) the alcoholic percentage by volume.

    So, the problem is not lack of knowledge here of the amount of alcohol one is about to consume.

    A 125ml glass of 10% wine clearly contains 1.25 units of alcohol; if it’s 12% wine, then that is a bit over around 1.44 units (from 12×12). A pint of beer is 568ml, so a pint of 5.0% beer is 568/200 units (that’s 2.84 units). 4.5% beer is 1/10th less: just under 2.6 units.

    A 1/6 gill measure of spirits is 1/24th of a pint and at 40% by volume, so it’s 568/600 units: that is just under 1.0 units. A 25ml measure of spirits is a smidgeon more, though easier to calculate; at 40%, it’s exactly 1 unit.

    Now, we don’t need to judge our alcohol consumption to 2 decimal places of units, so it’s all much easier.

    A pint of beer is pretty close to 2.5 units for ordinary and 3.0 units for strong. A small glass of wine (125ml) is around 1.5 units, a big glass (250ml) is twice that and a 175ml glass is half way in between (two and a quarter units). Spirits are 1 unit per standard measure.

    Now, how much can you take?

    Well, I can take my own mental arithmetic, approximated by a little experience. The government already do enough for me in that regard with the existing labelling – I don’t need the taxpayer being forced to pay them more, just many of those (s)he already pays to work harder teaching times tables and a few useful tricks on division and approximation; the rest can shut up on this issue.

    Best regards

  6. Furor Teutonicus says:

    XX They have seen this process with tobacco. Do they really have such a lack of understanding of how the puritan lobby works? XX

    Oh, they understand it O.K. But they can not link two ideas together and come to a conclussion.

    You just KNOW that their answer will be “Oh but I am all FOR them doing that to smokers. Smoking is a filthy smelly, disgusting habit!”

  7. EndivioR says:

    TROTTOL. Sounds like a rebranding of Imodium.

  8. bloke in spain says:

    What you are forgetting here is the purpose of the corporations. It’s not to sell booze, it’s to make money. The important thing’s the profit. Large enterprises always find it easier to comply with regulation than small ones so regulation drives competition out of the market place.

  9. NickM says:

    bloke in Spain. Yes, that’s a factor. What is minimum alcohol pricing per unit to the big supermarkets if not a cartel? There is another factor though. These corps have many fingers in many pies. This sort of ordely retreat from booze-selling gives them a time-frame to re-organise their portfolios. That is why they are paying this Danegeld – they are buying time.

  10. Lynne says:

    EndivioR – you win at internet today. :D

  11. Paul Marks says:

    As Ian and others point out…….

    This “we must do it voluntarily – or they will hit us worse with regulations” is not just cowardly (and it is cowardly) it is also STUPID.

    Because the “great and the good” (including the BBC and so on) will hit them anyway – and because they have accepted the basis of the statist position, it will actually be more EASY to hit them with regulations in due course.

    However, pubs were hit worse by something that (in their case) was even worse than the “health Fascists”.

    They were hit by “competition policy”.

    The government came along (a few years ago) and said that pubs could not be owned by the big brewers – this violated the neoclassical “perfect competition” concept (so beloved by the university “economists”).

    Of course once the pubs were no longer owned by brewers they stopped getting discounted drink.

    So more and more people started to buy their beer in supermarkets at drink at home (or in the street).

    Clue, in a real free market there would be no such thing as “competition POLICY”. And government would not care who owned what – such things as “vertical intergration” (such as film makers owning cinemas) would be a matter of total lack of interest on the part of the law.

  12. RAB says:

    Turkeys voting for Christmas.

    So very very stupid.

  13. George Speller says:

    “This could help fend off further calls for action from the health lobby.”
    Now who was is that said “I have no further territorial demands”?

  14. NickM says:

    George,
    Exactly!

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