Drink related violence is creating no-go areas in England's towns and cities according to the Independent. But that has not persuaded Gordon Brown of the merits of minimum pricing, as favoured by his own health minister Andy Burnham, as well as The Royal College of Physicians and just about every other body of medical opinion. Interesting that Burnham, who presumably consulted widely on the issue, was opposed in Cabinet by the Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy and the chancellor Alistair Darling as well as Brown. Now what do these three have in common again? Ah yes, they all occupy Scottish seats. The health of their own constituents is a matter for the Scottish Parliament, where the opposition, including Labour, has vowed to block attempts by the SNP government to introduce minimum pricing. If Westminster backed the policy - as its own cross party health committee has already recommended - that would obviously embarrass the Labour Party in Scotland. It would expose Iain Gray's poor judgement and cynicism - two of his own ex-health ministers, Susan Deacon and Malcolm Chisholm publicly backed the SNP proposal. .
I wonder how the English people identified in The Independent as being scared to walk through their neighbourhood because of aggressive drunks feel about this? A policy that would reduce liver disease, cut violent crime and save the NHS a fortune has been ditched because the SNP thought of it first. It's a sort of West Lothian question in miniature, in this case a whisky minature. The cabinet Scots, hailing from a country which drinks 25% more than the rest of the UK, are determined to poison Britain's not-quite-so-inebriated nations as as well. I'd be outraged if I lived in Tunbridge Wells...
Labour does have one health-related justification for its stance - it is terribly allergic to the nationalists and has been very poorly since May 2007 when it was deprived of what it believed was its divine right to rule Scotland. Allowing Alex Salmond any kind of positive legacy would be fatal to its chances of securing power at Holyrood again.
24 hour drinking, alcohol, alistair darling, andy burnham, binge drinking, cabinet, drunkeness, gordon brown, health committee, Holyrood, jim murphy, Labour, liver disease, minimum pricing, price per unit, Royal College of Physicians, SNP, Westminister, WHO
As Jeff says, an odd choice of words. I immediately remembered listening to Osama Saeed speak at the conference on Saturday. He said he hoped the SNP would never share a platform with fascists - unlike the Labour's Jack Straw. For this he was applauded vigorously and the motion he was speaking for was carried without opposition.
By agreeing to debate with Nick Griffin on Question Time this Thursday, Mr Straw is helping to normalise the BNP, who will present themselves as just another legitimate political option. A hate fest on on prime time if you like.
I didn't see much evidence of hatred at the conference. Another SNP motion drew attention to Shell Oil's disgraceful behaviour towards the people of the Niger Delta which Amnesty has condemned. If that counts as hatred I'd say the target was pretty deserving. The two fringe events I attended were extremely ecumenical. Least I appear biased, the former Labour Party member and political conference veteran I travelled up with said he found the SNP annual Autumn gatherings much friendlier that those of Labour or the Tories. I later mentioned this to a old pal, a trade union activist who also carried a Labour card for many years. How did she find Labour conferences? "Grim" she groaned "Absolutely grim."
Just to show that I am no hater, let's put it on record that I rather enjoy Tom Harris's blog. He deserves the plaudits he has received for it and is refreshingly open, even when it's not necessarily in his political interests. Recently he posted on his problems with an insurance company after some domestic calamity. He has my full sympathy. Perhap Tom still feels a bit grumpy about that, and is over-reacting to things, as we all do under pressure.
So to remind him what hate speak really sounds like, here is his Labour colleague Pauline McNeill's (un)gracious acceptance speech when she narrowly held her Glasgow Kelvin seat in 2007.
2007 election, acceptance speech, amnesty, anti-racism, BNP, BNP on question time, hate speak, hate-fest, hatred, inverness, labour, labour conference, nick griffin, niger delta, osama saeed, pauline mcneill, shell, shell nigeria, SNP, SNP conference, snp tactical voting, SNP tactical voting, tom harris