A new website has appeared under the domain www.minimumpricing.info which pushes the case for a minimum unit price of alcohol and invites people to "sign up" to "make minimum pricing law".
The website provides information which is misleading at best. An interactive panel allows users to see how much alcohol will cost if the legislation is introduced. In the case of a cheap bottle of wine, for example...
Fair enough. The price will go up. That is the point. But is it really honest to state that the price of more expensive drinks will go down?
PRICE GOES DOWN? It won't, will it? If anything, minimum pricing will encourage premium brands to charge more. If a half decent £4.15 bottle of wine costs the same as much as a horrible bottle of £2.49 plonk, the former can surely get away with charging £5.
This is routine deviousness on the part of the temperance lobby, but it is not the reason for this post. What is really of interest here is where this website came from and who paid for it. It has no contact details and no branding. Although one might suspect the hand of the NHS, Alcohol Concern or the Department of Health at work, none of their logos appear.
Perhaps it is the work of some concerned citizen? Unlikely. Although small, the website is too elaborate to be the work on a lone temperance nut. The domain name was registered by a swanky marketing agency based in the North West and it seems to be linked to the chap below, who is an 'Alcohol Strategic Lead', also based in the North West (come friendly cuts and fall on thee).
If you take the advice of the website and "Sign up here to make minimum pricing law", you will hit an external link and be taken to the website of DrinkWise NorthWest where you will be given the opportunity to 'Join the Movement'. DrinkWise NorthWest is entirely funded by the NHS and local authorities.
It is, I think, fair to say that www.minimumpricing.info has been paid for with taxpayers money to lobby for a change in the law. DrinkWise NorthWest is an arm of the government. Why is it spending money lobbying the government? Why, indeed, is the government—which has supposedly not made its mind up about minimum pricing—allowing taxpayers' money to be spent on an astro-turfing project designed to get people to sign up to a "movement".
Regular readers will be familiar with fake charities and state-funded NGOs masquerading as 'civil society'. It might take a little homework to find out that ASH, Alcohol Concern, Friends of the Earth, Brake, Sustain et al. are largely dependent on statutory funding for their existence, but it can be done. This website is not unusual in using government money to lobby for policy, but it is unusual in that it is doing so anonymously and without disclosing the source of the campaign.
If this is not against the rules then the rules are worthless.