THE latest research update on the Minimum Alcohol Price (MPA) confirms that this token attempt to reduce harmful alcohol consumption has had very little effect (“Scottish ministers consider further price hike alcohol after policy review”, May 8). Alcohol Focus Scotland and many others want to raise the MPA from 50p to 65p. This approach fails because there is no way to stop the alcohol industry from creating as many new drinks as it wants to satisfy all palates and budgets. Supermarkets illustrate my point, because we now have four to six liquor aisles where there used to be two.
Politicians struggle to reduce deaths from illicit drugs, which continue to rise for the simple reason that the drug lords have created hundreds of new drugs to meet every need; the liquor industry did the exact same thing. It has created hundreds of new alcoholic beverages, to suit all taste buds and budgets for adults and children. More than 300 new gins, all kinds of pre-mixed drinks and canned cocktails, a hundred alcopops, new vodkas, hundreds of specialty beers and wines flood the market each month.
Many people believe that if we legalized illicit drugs, we could control their quality and safety. History tells a different story, as tobacco and alcohol were legalized for three centuries, during which time the damage to public health intensified. Smoking and alcohol have killed billions of us more than illicit drugs.
When they succeeded in legislating to reduce smoking, Scottish politicians did not consult the global tobacco industry because they knew it would do whatever it could to avoid any loss of business and profit. So why, I wonder, has the alcohol industry been sitting at the table of Scottish politicians for decades, claiming to find solutions to alcohol addiction? I think listening to these discussions has allowed this industry to stay ahead of the game and constantly undermine any legislation that would harm its profits. The Scottish Whiskey Association took the Scottish government to court and succeeded for years in preventing minimum liquor price legislation from coming into effect.
Minimum pricing has given the alcohol industry around £130million a year in extra revenue, which is a clear benefit as they sell the same drinks at a higher price, at no cost to them. As the cost of alcohol rises, poorer drinkers are shut out of the market, so they resort to buying the now cheaper illicit drugs.
There is no political will to seriously reduce alcohol consumption as it is a big source of revenue for our governments. Politicians should consider how to get the alcohol industry to contribute to the harm they cause by diverting the unearned profits they collect from MPU to help fund drug recovery and recovery programs. the alcohol.
Max Cruickshank, Glasgow.
A UNIQUE VIEW OF SLAVERY
NEIL Mackay is rightly critical of most Scots’ lack of knowledge of Scotland’s role in the wicked slave trade (“‘My family was owned as slaves by Scots. It’s time this nation faced his story'”, May 8). However, for my generation, it was not just an ignorance of the brutal realities of slavery, but an ignorance of our own country’s history that was the problem. Having studied history at school and taken British History Honors 1 and 2 at the University of Edinburgh, I knew nothing of the Darien Scheme, the Act of Union, agricultural revolutions and Scottish industries or the achievements of the Scottish Enlightenment. It took an English author, John Prebble, to begin the task of educating me into something of Scotland’s past. Prebble was pilloried at the time by the Scottish academic establishment, but his books such as Glencoe were widely read and proved very popular.
As noted in the article, Henry Dundas was harshly criticized by both Sir Geoff Palmer and Edinburgh City Council, who placed a condemnatory plaque next to his monument in St Andrew Square. There is no doubt that Henry Dundas was a villain. He was a heavy drinker, a womanizer and a man who shamelessly used his considerable patronage powers to help his friends, especially his fellow Scots. However, to continue to blame Dundas for the delay in abolishing the slave trade is, I believe, unfair and ignores the reality of the tumultuous years of the early 1790s. Those who attack Dundas must answer the question of how a Parliament favorable to slaves at the time was going to vote for abolition? Britain was then at war with revolutionary France and faced the real prospect of invasion. Moreover, the British establishment was terrified that the success of the French Revolution might inspire similar uprisings in Britain. The country was in turmoil and it fell to Dundas to attempt to restore order at home and deal with the French threat.
A previous attempt to pass an abolition motion was overwhelmingly defeated. It would take years for the strength of the moral argument against the vile trade to have a chance of success. During the 1792 debate, Dundas proposed a gradual path to abolition stating that “my opinion has always been against the slave trade”. This progressive approach succeeded in 1807.
I think there is a risk that we will be presented with a very one-sided view of the issue of slavery. It should be remembered that the vast majority of these unfortunate Africans were captured and sold to slavers by their fellow Africans. Finally, it should also be remembered that during the centuries in question, at least a million white Europeans were captured and sold in the slave markets of North Africa, a situation which Giles Milton gives a graphic description of in his book White Gold.
Eric Melvin, Edinburgh.
THE FUNICULAR NEEDS A BETTER ANALYSIS
MARTIN Williams’ report on whether to repair the Cairn Gorm Funicular or scrap it (“Call for Inquiry into Costs of Delayed Cairngorm Railway”, May 1) explores a much needed question . That the decision to build the funicular was a financial disaster is now indisputable – one of a series of bad decisions by HIE on the development of the mountain. Whether to repair or remove is simply based on which would be the least financial disaster and the least cost to the taxpayer.
However, the analysis described by Mr. Williams appears to be fundamentally flawed. He reports that the costs of urgent repairs have already soared from £14.8m to £26.75m and the history of these costs strongly indicates that they will rise further. The withdrawal is currently estimated at £16.92m as an alternative, but it is not an alternative. Like all technology, it ages and will eventually need to be phased out. Therefore, it is only an alternative if you decide to send the moving bill to the next generation – a practice that underlies much of our current environmental crisis.
Operating costs over the next 30 years, he says, are estimated at £153.7m against revenue of £77.2m, a loss of £73.09m sterling. However, this is set against an economic benefit ‘for the country’ of £146.22m. Now, where does this figure come from? The main intended economic beneficiary is Speyside’s tourist industry, which has flourished in the years since the funicular stopped operating. A survey of 40 local tourism businesses found that a trip to Cairn Gorm was not highly rated among local attractions.
More importantly, what would be the financial benefit to the country if the same money were spent to help develop potentially profitable businesses around the Highlands and Islands and wider instead of dumping it into a bottomless money pit on Cairn Gorm, especially from both runaway inflation and the rising cost of living? There is no number for this, but it should be a key number in option pricing.
It’s time to make a decision based on a better analysis than the one offered.
R Drennan Watson, Alford.
INDYREF 2 MUST BE DELIVERED
ALISTER Jack, namely Secretary of State for Scotland, has officially stated that there is no appetite for Indyref2 and that the Scottish Government should not proceed with this referendum. This shows Mr. Jack, not for the first time, that he believes deflection, distraction and diversion are the way to get people to forget (or ignore) the promises of the manifesto – both to his own party in Westminster and now (if Mr Jack gets his way) SNP/Scottish Greens in Holyrood.
Is Mr Jack suggesting that because his own party in Westminster considers it acceptable to abandon manifesto promises, that the SNP/Green Scottish Government should follow suit?
As recently as the 2019 general election, the Conservatives in Westminster – backed by Mr Jack – promised to keep the triple pension lock, but then quickly dropped the middle income part when it appeared to give pensioners a reasonably decent (percentage) increase on what is already a very poor state pension.
Pensioners have been hit with a double whammy of abandoned Tory/Westminster election promises, impoverishing current pensioners and depressing the base from which all future pensioners will come. These future pensioners, of course, are already suffering the same cost of living increases caused, in large part, by the mishandling of Brexit by Mr Jack’s government party; and energy companies allowed – by this same government – to raise the price cap by 54% while reaping massive profits.
So no, Mr Jack, the Scottish Government does not need lessons on your party’s behavior at Westminster. And the people of Scotland expect the Scottish Government to deliver on its manifesto promises – including holding Indyref2 during this Parliament.
Ian Waugh, Dumfries & Galloway Indy Hub, Dumfries.
INTEGRITY COMES FIRST
While the Tory counter-attack on Sir Keir Starmer nearly succeeded leaving him floundering and looking suspicious, he finally seized the opportunity by saying he would resign if he was given a fixed fine for the pre-arranged meal in Durham. Hypocrisy was the accusation leveled against him by his opponents, but this particular fox has now been slaughtered for good and glory.
Now the spotlight is once again on the Prime Minister for his performance on his role in Partygate with his initial denials and substantiated attendance at several of the celebrations. Integrity and honor are now at the forefront, drawing a distinct line in the sand between the Prime Minister and his counterpart.
Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.