Posted by: secretperson | June 3, 2008

Balls to Authoritarians – Parents not Alcohol are the Problem

Ed Balls has hinted the age at which parents may give their children alcohol may be raised from 5 years. Apparently this is the latest plan to stop the spread of teenage binge drinking, but it is quite obvious to me that this will not work.

The introduction of 24 hour drinking (which of course only really means an hour here and there extra, there are very few pubs open 24 hours) was meant to introduce a southern European style drinking culture, more relaxed rather than binge drinking. It failed, but law cannot determine culture over night, sadly for the authoritarian Labour party.

One noticeable aspect of safe European drinking was that it took place form a young age in the safe European home. In France kids learn about alcohol with their parents, having a glass of wine waterred down with a meal, they don’t learn over a sneaky late night bottle of cheap cider in a local park. That is a cultural difference again, but this time Labour are not only trying to legislate it away, they are legislating in the wrong direction. We will never build a different drinking culture if families can no longer educate children about drinking in a responsible safe way.

And let’s face it, the problem here is families and parents. While there is, in this case, such a thing as society, which influences everyone, ultimately parents need to be responsible for their kids. I drink, I binge drink, probably too much for my health but it only affects me. I have never been in a fight or vandalised anything. I believe this is down to my parents, and the way they raised me.

The sort of parents who buy crates of beer or cheap cider for their kids and then let them roam the streets with this, at a young age, will not care about a change in the law. They are already not responsible. Law abiding parents, exactly the ones who would have brought their children up well, with an understanding of alcohol, will now have to say no to something as simple as trying a sip of wine. And how will home drinking be enforced without obscene surveillance powers.

As usual with the authoritarian instinct, to ban or tax everything, in an effort to run people’s lives by those who know best, its logic is misguided. “That is bad” – “Make it illegal”; seems obvious but doesn’t mean it will work. The police don’t seem to have the power and/or resources to tackle serious crimes on our streets, and the introduction of more ‘soft crimes’ will simply divert resources to these easy arrests, and make the generally law abiding suspicious of them. It is similar to my


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