Simon Kelner: Nanny state won't stop young people getting lashed

Kelner's view

Share

Here's a sobering thought as you prepare for the working week with joy in your heart and the sun on your back. Yes, as you'll read on the front pages of every newspaper over the next few days, it's hotter here than in Marbella, or the Maldives, or even Mars.

And also you'll have an extra hour of daylight to tend to your garden, or hear the birds sing, or take an evening stroll. On the other hand, you may feel hounded, persecuted and ostracised. If you happen to be a person who likes a drink, you are very much in the Government's – and society's – sights.

In the wake of last week's proposal by the Home Secretary – that, in an effort to curb binge drinking by young people, there should be a minimum price of 40p per unit of alcohol – came the news that doctors will be incentivised to report on their patients' drinking habits.

The thrust behind this initiative is as a prevention-rather-than-cure system for a patient who might, unknowingly, be considered a problem drinker. At face value, I don't really know how this is going to work. In my experience, anyone who's asked by a doctor how much they drink/smoke/eat will underestimate their intake by at least 50 per cent. A doctor friend of mine tells me he always doubles the amount his patient has told him. The truly worrying thing about the new next-to-zero tolerance about alcohol consumption is that you could halve your actual intake and still make it into the at-risk category. "Oh, I don't drink very much, maybe two or three glasses of wine most nights." – "I'm sorry, sir, but you had better come with me for some specialist advice."

According to the Department of Health, this strategy of intervention works, particularly with older, professional people. I have always been rather keen on the nanny state, but I am not sure how effective this method will be with young people, and their evening-out alcoholic triathlon of pre-lash (supermarket-bought vodka, usually), lash itself (pub and club) and post-lash (anything goes, apart from wine).

There is no doubt that, as a nation, we have a drink problem. Drink damages health and can be the cause of social breakdown.

But – believe it or not – we are actually drinking less than we used to, according the latest government statistics. And I think some of the moral panic attached to drinking, which often comes in the shape of newspapers showing pictures of intoxicated, scantily-clad young women, comes from envy – why can't we be young, carefree and having fun any more? – or from snobbery – why can't poor people behave themselves?

To adapt Dylan Thomas's famous epithet that an alcoholic is someone you don't like who drinks as much as you do, perhaps today's problem drinkers are those younger, and not as socially advantaged, as those laying down the rules. Cheers!

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour's Jeremy Corbyn arrives to take part in a Labour party leadership final debate, at the Sage in Gateshead, England, Thursday, Sept. 3  

Jeremy Corbyn is here to stay and the Labour Party is never going to look the same again

Andrew Grice
Serena Williams  

As Stella Creasy and Serena Williams know, a woman's achievements are still judged on appearance

Holly Baxter
The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea