Reporting Scotland balances official alcohol statistics with one man’s view to spoil SNP Government’s good news

BBC Scotland Drinks Correspondent (right) gets the facts

They headline with:

‘Sales of alcohol fall to the lowest level since records began’

but they have their but ready for immediate insertion in case you might be thinking something good has happened in Scotland:

 ‘BUT has minimum pricing made the difference?’

Without further ado and certainly with no further information on the official statistics release, we’re straight off to a centre for the care of alcoholics where Lisa Summers will interview two old guys at length as the camera lingers compassionately (sic) on their tragic faces and one tells us:

‘Raising the price of alcohol isn’t going to stop an alcoholic from having a drink. He’s either gonna steal the money or steal the bottle!’

See, never mind the improving trends in consumption. Never mind the fact that the minimum pricing scheme was designed to reduce all problem drinking and not really expected to solve alcoholism. We’re telling you that Scotland is still a place of drunks and that you needn’t get above yourselves. And, never mind that alcohol-related stays in hospital continue to fall as they have done since the early days of this ‘SNP Government’.

And, never mind that waiting time targets for alcohol treatment by NHS Scotland have been smashed:

The target is for 90% of people referred with a drug or alcohol problem to wait no longer than three weeks for treatment. 6 609 people sought alcohol treatment and 4 638 sought drug treatment. Despite these numbers, 94.9% seeking alcohol treatment and 93.2% seeking drug treatment waited three weeks or less for treatment.

The report is up the usual standard from Reporting Scotland – E minus for informativeness, A plus for cringe factor.


9 thoughts on “Reporting Scotland balances official alcohol statistics with one man’s view to spoil SNP Government’s good news

  1. Ian Kirkwood June 20, 2019 / 8:00 am

    I see that Auntie is getting rough press in the English papers following their Tory leadership debate.
    I believe the word “bias” was included in several front page headlines.
    Disgraceful, isn’t it?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Donald June 20, 2019 / 10:06 am

    As usual, one has to reverse-engineer the reported numbers to deduce the facts.

    In Scotland, between 2010 and 2017, per capita sales fell from 10.9 to 10.2 – an average of 0.9% per year.

    Between 2017 and 2019 – under minimum pricing – sales fell from 10.2 to 9.9 – an average of 1.5% per year. Not much to shout about, really, especially considering that many young people now choose weed rather than whisky.

    But the sales figures do not include online purchases, so the wine I get delivered from England counts against England, not against Scotland.

    Since 2010, sales in Scotland have fallen by 9% and risen in England by 3% (both per capita). There are ten times as many people in England, so if all of Scotland’s 9% reduction was simply due to uncounted online sales from England, that would explain just a third of England’s increase.

    Another thought: If upping the price of cheap booze (consumed by poor people) were to make a considerable difference, would that not be admitting that there are too many poor people in the country? (In the same way that disenfranchising convicts is an admission that there are too many people in prison.)


    • John Munro June 20, 2019 / 3:19 pm

      Hate to tell you this but your posting doesn’t actually do what I think you intended. If minimum pricing has led to a larger decrease in alcohol consumption then that would tend to suggest that the measure is successful. Similarly, online purchases of wine from outside Scotland are not exactly new. Friends have been doing ‘white van’ runs to Calais and other Franco/Belgian ports for decades. I’ve been having wine sent to me from England, Italy and Germany for a fair number of years. Is there any evidence that online imports from England or elsewhere have increased since minimum pricing?


      • Donald June 20, 2019 / 4:36 pm

        What I intended to show is that the published figures are meaningless (which your examples tend to underline). Published figures refer only to sales figures which are unrelated to consumption. You ask, is there any evidence? My point exactly!


      • Canmore June 20, 2019 / 10:37 pm

        If sales figures are down, how would consumption increase?


      • Donald June 26, 2019 / 7:04 am

        Because online sales from elsewhere, including England, are not counted.


  3. Ronald Dunnett June 20, 2019 / 12:57 pm

    We are constantly told Scotland has a drink problem, and we do, it’s a generational issue , however with education and patience the SNP are listening and making a difference in a great perspective than any headline grabbing journo focused on the rant of SNP baaad Scotland Baaad…
    As you will see we are becoming a very modern nation unlike our neigbours.
    Compasion understanding and a social fabric to be loud of. Let’s do this


  4. Alasdair Macdonald June 20, 2019 / 1:25 pm

    The data released about the early months of the minimum pricing was reported on GMS, quite objectively and there were interviews with a liver disease consultant and the Chief Medical Officer. Both gave responsible expert statements that these are early results and that not too much should be read into them, but that the data were a ‘hopeful’ sign. The consultant gave his impressions on how he saw things from the front line and was upbeat, but professionally cautious. The Chief Medical Officer was also cautious and pointed out that more rigorous data will be available later this year and at regular intervals thereafter. The presenters presented well and there was no hostile questioning.

    Then, later in the programme there was an interview with an ‘expect’ from the ‘Ideas Academy’ (sic) which was described as a ‘leading academic body’ but no real details. A Google search reveals this to be a right wing libertarian organisation, led by people like Claire Fox, ex-communist, ex-IRA supporter who has in the past justified IRA murders. She is a recently elected Brexit Party MEP and, for years has had a regular slot on the propagandist BBC programme ‘The Moral Maze’, along with other right wingers like Melanie Philips. The ‘expert’ asserted, without evidence that the data did not take into account the amount of illegal alcohol being consumed nor sales of alcohol in Carlisle and brought into Scotland. These were treated as FACTS, and this segued neatly into the ‘tip of the iceberg’ trope. There was no probing on these assertions.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s