Now, I ought to declare a pretty obvious interest before we begin; I’m going to be a university student in October, and according to student finance, I will have a grand total of £0.00 for going out, having fun, and yes – that ubiquitous student pastime – drinking a tiny bit too much. So obviously, I’m not hugely in favour of legislation that makes alcohol more expensive, which is exactly what David Cameron is proposing.
Unfortunately, I can’t actually ever take David Cameron seriously when it comes to his pontificating about youth drunkenness – he was, of course, a member of the hyper-privileged Bullingdon Club dining society whilst at Oxford University, and as such, spent three years drinking port, hiring strippers, trashing Oxford’s restaurants and laughing at the poor. So when he talks about youth drinking, I don’t picture the local youths and their plastic bottles of Strongbow; I picture David Cameron, George Osborne, and about half the Tory front bench in their velvet dinner jackets and yellow silk ties, drinking like hell, and throwing up in the quad of Brasenose College, Oxford.
It’s an image that leads me to the obvious point about a minimum price on a unit of alcohol: which is essentially that this is a way of stopping the feral poor from getting drunk so often, but the rich can still get slaughtered as and when they please. This was something that was reinforced watching good old Alistair Campbell, who presented a program about middle class alcoholics; those with the cash to spend £15,000 on a rehabilitation program. But it adds to the point – alcoholism isn’t a pursuit of the poor, and making drinking more expensive won’t solve the problem, just shift the focus. Perhaps we ought instead to ask what kind of culture we have where it seems necessary to get so damned drunk so often.
Anyway, the point seems to me to be that if Cameron’s measures go through, the basic message being pushed is that you certainly aren’t allowed to get drunk if you don’t have a butler to clean the vomit off the flagstones of your Oxford college.
P.S. What the hell is wrong with you Tumblr? I just scrolled through the Julius Caesar tag, and I find people are ‘shipping’ (dear gods I feel dirty using that word) characters from the play. As Cassius said: ‘Oh ye gods, must I endure all this?’