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.
As anyone who's ever had any involvement with someone afflicted with drink or drugs, there is nothing anyone can do for someone who is not prepared to help themselves. Charles wasn't prepared to give up drink when his career was falling to pieces. And why? Alcoholism is a disease that tells you that you haven't got a problem. You are the only one who can't see it.
I'm a big one for calling them out every time they trot out something as interesting, insightful and revolutionary, which is actually common sense, no sense or nonsense. Then this study comes along, and it's reaffirmed my faith in statistics everywhere. If mathematicians and scientists could design their own porn, it'd be a naked somebody rolling around on findings just like this.
When I speak to people about my sobriety, they imagine either that I am fighting a constant battle against temptation or that I no longer have any thoughts about drinking at all. The reality is somewhere in between. The best way to describe it is through the metaphor of something most of us can relate to - a relationship with an ex-partner, from the initial meet, to the aftermath of the break-up.