Alex Salmond: 'Scotland is a nation of drunks'

The First Minister said drinking culture in Scotland had changed since his youth

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has suggested that Scotland is a “nation of drunks” and that he is “significantly” concerned by the nation’s relationship with alcohol. 

In an interview with former Labour spin-doctor Alistair Campbell which was published in GQ magazine on Thursday, Mr Salmond explained that apparent drinking problems stemmed from: “the availability of cheap alcohol and the cultural changes that has introduced.”

“When we were young we would go out for a drink. People now go out drunk, having drunk cheap booze before. That is social change for the worse,” he said.

“Then there is something deep about Scotland’s relationship with alcohol that is about self-image – lack of confidence, maybe, as a nation – and we do have to do something about it.”

He then went on to defend the Scottish Government’s plan to introduce minimum alcohol pricing, which has been criticised by the whisky industry.

“I promote whisky,” Mr Salmond told Mr Campbell.

“I do it on the argument that it’s a quality drink, has a worldwide cachet and that its recent great success in markets like China is about social emulation and authenticity, not cheapness.

"My argument is that if you are promoting it as authentic and of great worth, you cannot promote it from a nation of drunks. You’ll never be able to say it is healthy and life giving, but you can say it’s authentic and high quality," he said.

Jackson Carlaw, Scottish Conservative health spokesman, told the Telegraph: “It would be offensive to hear from a foreigner, but for our own First Minister to hold these views is simply breath-taking and frankly unacceptable in a national leader.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said on Wednesday: "In this interview, the First Minister was simply spelling out the clear risks for Scotland as a nation if we do not take radical action to tackle problem drinking".

Read more: Divorcing Scotland could be very costly
Scots warned against playing politics with Glasgow Games
The Scottish referendum is a judgement of both the head and heart

Mr Salmond's comments were published a day after judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled that a legal challenge by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) against the SNP’s minimum alcohol pricing plans must be referred to the European Union Court of Justice.

The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 was passed by Holyrood in June 2012, paving the way for the introduction of a preferred minimum price of 50p per unit.

But the SWA argued that minimum pricing legislation breaches European law.

Its legal bid was rejected by Lord Doherty in May 2013 following an Outer House hearing in the Court of Session in January 2013.

An appeal to the court's Inner House, heard by Lord Eassie, Lord Menzies and Lord Brodie, took place in February.

Excerpts from Mr Salmond’s GQ interview also caused controversy on Sunday, after it was revealed that he admires “certain aspects” of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Well, obviously, I don't approve of a range of Russian actions, but I think Putin's more effective than the press he gets, I would have thought, and you can see why he carries support in Russia,” Mr Salmond said.

Additional reporting by PA

Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey fans rejoice, series five returns later this month
TV
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Development Manager

Salary/Rate: £32,000/annum: M&E Global Resources Ltd: Description/Main Duties ...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Application Support Analyst / Junior SQL Server DBA

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor