"http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/8979765/David-Cameron-plans-minimum-alcohol-price-in-England.html">reports today that the Prime Minister has asked for work to be done
across Whitehall on how a minimum price for alcohol could be set. As the paper’s leader column "http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/telegraph-view/8979952/David-Cameron-could-regret-his-anti-alcohol-crusade.html">makes clear, this will not be a politically easy thing to do.
When I interviewed the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley for the Christmas issue of The Spectator a few
weeks back, he was clear about why he didn’t like the concept of a minimum price:
‘I don’t like a minimum price, we are acting against below cost selling. My problem with a minimum price, well I have two problems. One is it’s regressive, so there are perfectly
normal families who just don’t happen to have much money who like to buy cheap beer or cheap wine. Should they be prevented? No, I don’t think so and if you put in a minimum price, one of
the journalists calculated that if you set it at 50p a unit it would add £600 million to the profits of retailers and drinks manufacturers which doesn’t seem to me to be the right
thing to do in these circumstances.’
If the coalition does go ahead with a minimum price, it will do so at a political cost. Opponents of it will be quick to point out that this price increase will disproportionately hit
the poorest in society at a time when they are already being squeezed by high levels of inflation.