Professional women 'drink twice as much'
Women in highflying careers, such as managers in large companies, drink a bottle of wine a week on average, around 11.2 units, compared with 6.2 units for female hairdressers, cleaners and factory workers.
Diane Abbott, Shadow Public Health Minister, says new alcohol figures lift the lid on some of the problems around the ‘cocktail and business card culture’:
She said: "It is good that more women are out in the workforce and are enjoying social life in pubs and bars."
She doesn't mean that at all, of course. Here comes the 'but'.
"But these disturbingly high figures reveal women’s drinking patterns have changed in a generation, reflecting a silent, middle class epidemic. The problem is not just young 'ladettes'."
"This government needs to bring in a radical new, long-term alcohol strategy including – but not limited to – a minimum price for alcohol.’
How depressing it is to be reminded that no matter how draconian the Conservative-led coalition is on this issue, there is always the spectre of a Labour-run Department of Health, led by this grossly overweight, self-confessed hypocrite, to make things still worse (although, to give him his due, even Gordon Brown rejected minimum pricing).
What exactly are these "disturbingly high figures"?
Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that in 2010 women in professional and managerial positions consumed an average of 9.2 units a week compared with 6.2 units a week for women in routine and manual jobs.
9.2 units a week! It is, as the story says, the equivalent of one bottle of wine. Why, that's nearly one very small glass of wine per day. It's like the last days of Rome, isn't it?
We seem to have reached the point at which any statistic related to alcohol can be used to call for "radical new" legislation even when, as routinely occurs, the statistic shows that Britons are drinking much less than the media narrative requires. 9.2 units is significantly less than the ridiculously low guideline of 14 units per week for women. Even if we factor in the 15 per cent of women who are teetotal, the amount consumed by drinkers remains minimal, so what is the problem here? Is it merely that wealthy women drink a bit more than poor women? Surely not. Are we to imagine that the temperance crusaders would be happier if the poor drank more than the rich? This is no more evidence of an epidemic than the equally anodyne fact that middle-aged people drink more often than teenagers. This is good news, isn't it?
For the anti-drink lobby, as for useless politicians like Diane Abbott, there can be no good news. For them, the problem is not with how much we are drinking—alcohol consumption has been falling sharply for a decade—but that we drink at all. These figures show us nothing except that women, on average, are drinking a frankly medicinal amount of alcohol, and yet the decision has been made that the government must clamp down on drinking, just as it clamped down on smoking. The fact that the statistics do not support the mythology of Booze Britain is not seen as an inconvenience. The data are either ignored (as the drop in consumption has been ignored), or incorporated into the narrative of panic in a tenuous way (as here).
Regardless of the evidence, the public health lobby made its mind up several years ago that drinking was next in the firing line. There is nothing we can do to stop it.