I wouldn't be in parliament if it wasn't for the inspiration of my dad. At his best, he was inspiring, charismatic - and hugely idealistic. He inspired me into politics and public service. But for much of his life he battled an addiction to drink. It scarred us as a family, and tragically, just before the election, it cost my dad his life. And that's why I speaking up today. Today, alcohol harm costs our country £21billion a year. It's the third biggest public health risk after obesity and smoking. It costs the NHS alone £3.5billion.
Do you know what I am heartily sick of (excuse the very weak pun)? The plethora of health studies and warnings which have become so much part of the daily media diet that no day is complete without at least four major health stories, in three of which the advice/findings inevitably contradict each other.
In 1950, Brits drank an average of 3.9 litres of pure alcohol per person. Then, in 1960, it begins to creep upward. The upward trajectory ends in 1980, but that turns out to be temporary. By the late 1990s consumption is rising rapidly again. Come Peak Booze, in 2004, we were drinking 9.5 litres of alcohol per person - the equivalent of more than 100 bottles of wine.
I'd been concerned about my drinking for a while. It had steadily crept up and there was rarely a day when I didn't drink. Taking the edge off was a favourite reason to reach for the wine bottle in the evening. I deserve a drink right? It's been a hard day. Why shouldn't I indulge my favourite habit?