At this time when the coalition government is threatening to set a minimum price for the sale of alcohol, a sober look needs to be taken at the problems around drinking, instead of the knee-jerk puritanism and religious bigotry that has enveloped the UK.
The last few years has seen a slew of campaigns against alcohol consumption, claiming it should be restricted in one way or another. Statistics are banded around, apparently showing increasing levels of alcohol abuse, increasing costs to the NHS in treating everything from acute alcohol poisoning in students who had a few too many one night, to the costs of liver disease in chronic alcoholics. The costs to the police in calming drunken revellers, the clearing up after drunken incidents, the instigation of booze buses by the ambulance service, all catch the headlines.
Then the campaigners complain about Happy Hours and two-for-one deals in pubs and bars. They castigate supermarkets for special offers on alcohol. They preach to students against their traditional drinking games. They have banned drinking in parks and on buses and trains, and now even in many streets. Our traditions and freedoms are being trampled into the ground by puritans and religious bigots.
Various religions stick in their two-penneth worth, claiming that so and so saint/prophet/religious guru forbade it.
And all the time it is alcohol that is to blame. it is the devil's own work!
Now people are having to prove that they are over 25 years of age to get a drink, yet the legal age is eighteen. People who are clearly out of short trousers are being asked to prove their age. Parents are being refused the purchase of alcohol in supermarkets because they are with a child. What an affront to our civil liberties.
It is the latest hysterics of do-gooders who have seen this country irreparably damage children who have been wrenched from their parents over some spurious theory, or young people condemned to signing the sex-offenders register for the learning explorations of adolescence. It is the nannyism that has meant that discipline cannot be instilled in those a bit too wayward, by a reminding slap.
Yes it is alcohol that is to blame; that inert liquor that has no effect on its own; it requires a human to decide to pour that liquid down their throat to consume it. It is a choice they make to drink it - and their choice to decide when they have had enough to drink. But no it is alcohol that is to blame - see, the devil must be in it!
Millions of people have drunk alcohol for millions of years. A minority of them have got it wrong and end up harmed in some way. Millions have far too much to drink, and get drunk; they feel merry, and often subsequently they feel ill!- but no harm is done.
So if the vast majority of people can drink and even get drunk, without turning violent or urinating on war memorials or through people's letter-boxes or into their basements, then why is alcohol to blame?
Alcohol is not to blame. what is to blame, is the left-wing propaganda over many years, that has said that children should not be disciplined, that people should not have to take responsibility for themselves and for their actions, that etiquette, manners, and common laws and consideration should not be instilled into us all at a young age but be ignored and even reviled, that the rules by which people lived among one-another to create a civilised, respectful, considerate society, should be burned. The laissez-faire attitude to parenting, education, and policing, is what is to blame; not the alcohol. Alcohol does not make someone do stupid things: alcohol removes hang-ups and releases their underlying behaviour; so if they lack self-control and discipline, that will become all too evident under the influence of alcohol; it is their behaviour, not the alcohol's.
Imposing a minimum price, directing people to buy a case of beers to take home to drink instead of buying one or two to drink in the park, closing pubs so that the culture is changing (dangerously) from social drinking over a conversation into getting drunk at home alone, is all very retrograde and damaging.
All of the measures to restrict alcohol and to hike up the prices, once again most adversely affect the responsible people in society.
So if the government has a problem with alcoholic excess, then tackle the causes, not the pleasures.
And in the UK, we enjoy a drink. So why spoil it? If the government wants to remove the bravado of getting drunk, then remove the age restrictions on drinking, and protect our pubs: then children will grow up drinking sensibly in the company of others to monitor them.