by Alastair Brian
In the first law of its kind in Europe, the Scottish Parliament voted to introduce a minimum price of 50p per alcohol unit this week.
It will come into force in April next year and aims to cut alcohol consumption to save lives and cut the adverse impact alcohol misuse and over consumption has on health, crime and the economy. Four cans of lager will then cost a minimum of £7.92, a bottle of win will be from £4.69 and a bottle of vodka will retail for at least £13.13
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the move would have ‘a significant and historic impact.’
It was passed by 86 in favour, 1 against and 32 abstentions.
Labour Party MSPs abstained. Their Shadow Public Health Minister and former addictions specialist, Dr Richard Simpson MSP, said: ‘Scottish Labour offered to support the Bill if the SNP Government accepted our positive proposals to recoup the massive £125 million windfall this generates for big supermarkets and invest that money in tackling the root causes of alcohol misuse and dealing with its consequences.’ He went on: ‘By refusing to reverse its opposition to Scottish Labour’s progressive proposal, the SNP Government has thrown away an opportunity for the whole Parliament to be united in support of minimum pricing. Communities that suffer alcohol-related, anti-social behaviour, will be left wondering why – at a time when budgets across the public sector are tight and the alcohol misuse budget is being cut by SNP by over £3 million – the SNP has voted to stuff the pockets of supermarket shareholders with gold, instead of ploughing the £125 million windfall back into our police and health service that are left to deal with the effects of alcohol misuse.’
The one vote against the new law was a mistake by SNP’s Rosanna Cunningham who admitted she pressed the wrong button in a tweet, later.
However, the new law puts question marks against the authority of Scottish Labour Leader, Johann Lamont. It appears that while she and the Scottish Labour Party in Holyrood opposed the Bill despite their amendment, Scottish Labour MPs are expected to support such a minimum price policy at Westminster.
Bob Doris, SNP MSP for Glasgow, commented: ‘The fact that Labour’s Scottish MPs – including their Deputy Leader Anas Sarwar – support the policy as part of the Westminster Labour group, makes a mockery of Johann Lammont’s claim to be leader of all Scottish Labour. She had one last chance to put Labour’s dreadful politicking of the last few years, behind her and back a policy which she knows is in the interests of the people of Scotland.’
The minimum pricing measure is part of the wider strategic approach to tackling alcohol misuse set out in’Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol: A Framework for Action.’ Research shows that since 2000 enough alcohol is sold annually in Scotland to enable every adult aged over 16, to exceed the sensible male weekly guideline of 21 units every week. Scottish per capita alcohol sales are now almost a quarter (23%) higher than in England and Wales. While sales have fallen by around 8% from a 2005 peak in England and Wales, there has been no similar decline in Scotland.
In 2009-10 more than 100 people were discharged from hospital each day following alcohol related illness and injury. These discharge figures have more than quadrupled since the early 1980s.
Mortality figures, based on cases where alcohol use is considered to be the direct cause of death, may significantly underestimate the true scale of the problem. Now it is estimated that 1 in 20 deaths in Scotland is alcohol linked. This is almost twice as many as previously calculated. A quarter of male deaths and a fifth of female deaths in the 35-44 year age group, are thought to be alcohol attributable.
Scotland has one of the fastest growing rates of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the world, leading the Chief Medical Officer to add alcoholic liver disease to the list of ‘big killers’, alongside heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Scottish Labour has unveiled its list of candidates for the local government elections in Glasgow – and promised to transform the support it offers from birth to old age.
The party’s manifesto for the next five years in Glasgow promises:
- to expand free childcare by up to 1500 per child
- to offer a guarantee of apprenticeships, jobs or training to every 16 – 24 year old in Glasgow.
- to rebuild or refurbish every primary school that needs it
- to build 3500 new homes for rent, and offers first time buyers help with mortgages
- to replace the Winter Fuel Allowance – cut by the Tories -for the over 80s in the city
The party will field 45 candidates across all wards in the city. Full details are on www.glasgowlabour.com/candidates.
Gordon Matheson, Labour Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: ‘This election is about the future of our city. Glasgow has changed so much over the years, but we need to keep moving forward and to give chances to the next generation.
‘Our candidates are working hard across the city, knocking on doors, talking to voters and listening to their concerns.
‘I joined the Labour Party to change society and change lives, and in tough economic times Labour in Glasgow will put people in Glasgow first.
‘That is why I have set out a vision to improve childcare, refurbish our schools, create jobs, build homes, and protect the city’s pensioners.
‘But this isn’t just about policies and new schemes to help people. This is about something much bigger. It is about protecting our citizens from birth to old age, giving chances to the next generation, doing always what we can to make the biggest city in Scotland the greatest city in the world.’
by Lynsay Keough
The SNP’s knife crime strategy has been boosted by the release of figures which reveal a hugh fall in the numbers of people carrying knives in Strathclyde. The figures, released on the same day as it was revealed that under the SNP there are now 588 additional police in Strathclyde, report a 26% fall in the number of incidents of people carrying an offensive weapon.
SNP MSP for Glasgow, Bob Doris, said:
“We still have a serious knife problem in Glasgow but we’re finally moving in the right direction. Strathclyde Police are to be commended for their efforts, having put extra resources into tackling knife crime and working alongside the Scottish Government’s “No knives, better lives” campaign. Extra investment from the Government’s “Cashback for Communities” initiative has also provided alternatives to knives, gangs and violence for young people.
“Some of the invective coming from the Labour benches at Holyrood has been completely distasteful as they use specific examples of knife crime victims to attack the SNP Government. In reality, the figures released here show that real progress is being made under the SNP, in stark contrast to the spiralling problem we inherited from Labour.
“There has a been huge fall in the number of cases of knife carrying. In Strathclyde over the past year there have been over 1000 fewer incidents.
“Instead of attacking for the sake of it, Glasgow’s Labour politicians should be congratulating our police and recognising these figures as the beginning of the end of Glasgow’s shameful knife carrying culture.”
by Lynsay Keough
With the regional ballots for the 2011 Holyrood elections continuing until mid September, the SNP have selected their candidates for several of their Glasgow constituencies:
Glasgow Anniesland – Bill Kidd
Glasgow Cathcart – James Dornan
Glasgow Kelvin – Sandra White
Glasgow Maryhill & Springburn – Bob Doris
Glasgow Pollok – Chris Stephens
Glasgow Provan – Anne McLaughlin
Glasgow Rutherglen – Jim McGuigan
Glasgow Shettleston – John Mason
Glasgow Southside – Sturgeon
The Lib Dems hope to be able to reveal their candidates by their autumn conference in October and the Scottish Green Party are preparing to post a list by the middle of September.
The Scottish Conservatives have so far confirmed four candidates, with the recent selection of their Southside candidate. They are:
Glasgow Anniesland – Malcolm MacAskill
Glasgow Cathcart – Richard Sullivan
Glasgow Kelvin - Hamira Khan
Glasgow Southside – David Meikle
The Scottish Labour Party have so far confirmed that Steve Curran will be their candidate for Glasgow Southside and his campaign launched this week.
Can this rush to confirm candidates for Glasgow Southside be a reflection of the high profile issues of housing, crime and anti-social behaviour, red-flagged in the area at present or could it have more to do with trying to oust the sitting incumbent, Nicola Sturgeon?