It started with a ‘These prices ain’t big enough for the 5million of us’ and since then the gallus cowboys and the reds from the Wild Wild West have stared each other down over alcohol pricing.
‘Draw?’ ventured the Bad, having kicked every policy chair over and turning the place into a saloon. ‘Not on your nelly’ retorted the Good, ‘we’re taking this all the way till sundown’. Things were about to get Ugly.
And so it has proved with the news that Nicola Sturgeon has offered a ‘sunset clause’ to the minimum pricing plans such that, after a trial period, the policy can be reviewed. This would allow a ‘try before you buy’ opportunity which would help assuage fears that a minimum price for alcohol won’t help reduce the £2bn cost to Scotland each year.
Tavish, Annabel and Iain (the three amigos?) released a joint statement saying that they would prefer a ‘floor price’. It’s not immediately clear what the difference is between a floor and a minimum price and if that difference is trifling then is this not just more opposition for opposition’s sake?
It seems BMA Scotland does believe there is a difference between a floor price and a minimum price, preferring the latter to the former:
BMA Scotland does not believe that banning the sale of alcohol below the cost of duty and VAT (a floor price) will make any real difference in tackling Scotland's problems with alcohol. Under this scheme, many drinks such as supermarket brand vodka and ciders could continue to be sold at ridiculously cheap prices, and in some circumstances could be even cheaper than they are now
Indeed, Labour’s assertion that "The Nationalists have left themselves marginalised and isolated." is surely nonsensical given that the SNP has the BMA, the police, nurses, alcohol support groups and almost every other relevant non-political group on their side.
So it’s over to the reds, are they gonna do something, or just sit there and bleed*
High noon is looming on this issue and someone will have to blink first. By holding on to their horses, I strongly suspect it is the SNP that will be riding off into the sunset.
* nicked from the excellent Tombstone (a rootin’ tootin’ classic)