Sunday, June 05, 2011

Rennie signals Liberal Democrat support for minimum alcohol pricing #sp4

I've felt for a long time that the Liberal Democrat group in the Scottish Parliament were maybe opposing too much for the sake of it. Two issues where I think we got it wrong were on minimum alcohol pricing, which I think, given our destructive relationship as a country with alcohol is worth a try, and on the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

I was therefore thrilled to bits that Willie Rennie, our new leader, has signalled that we will be supporting the SNP Government's plans on minimum alcohol pricing. It's not just the actual policy, but more the fact that it shows the sort of willingness for constructive engagement that we see so little of in politics.

And Willie also gets a really, really big tick for saying that the plans will be ratified by Conference. It's nice to know that he remembers we exist, because there's been a feeling of disconnect for many years amongst grassroots members. I think that many members were uncomfortable with a number of the policy stances we took, without any sort of consultation, in the past. I think that Conference will be very supportive of the move as the vast majority of members I've spoken to from all over the country have been in favour of the change anyway.

When I interviewed Willie for Liberal Democrat Voice a few weeks ago, he said that the party is not "easily led" and that he wants his approach to be more of a collective one. He has been putting that into action over the last few weeks, really getting out there and listening to members. He is actually quite good at remembering he has two ears and one gob. He's also been helping campaigning around the country -  he was up in Tain yesterday giving support to Council by-election candidate Antony Gardner:

Update: Willie has written his own article for Liberal Democrat Voice, saying that it's time for radical action on alcohol misuse in Scotland.


Graeme said...

I comment as someone who has self-identified as having a problem with alcohol, albeit 2 years ago,

This is an unthought out populist notion. most obviously caught out by Buckfast being unaffected. It is not in the spirit of the successful 2006 smoking legislation.

Also it implies that if you are poor you will be tackled more than if you are rich. Non-poor people have an equal alcohol problem.

And my biggest gripe with this is that it rewards the purveyors of booze - this tax is not going to the NHS, it is going to the Tescos and Oddbins.

Terrible legislation.

Graeme said...

I also note you don't actually debate the issue here at all - just blindly rubber stamp it as a totem. This is a huge problem for democratic politics,

Unknown said...

I wrote more about it in the mists of time. The point of today's post was more about the change in attitude rather than the policy. And it was just a quick post as today's my wee one's birthday.

I will come back to the subject in more depth later. Not promising this week, but we have time to discuss it more fully.


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