UK: Alcohol Policy in Election Manifestos
Selected alcohol policy commitments have been taken up by several political parties in the UK through their election manifestos for the snap elections to be held on December 12. Alcohol Policy UK has summarized the commitments towards alcohol policy by the four major political parties in the run up to the elections.
The Conservative party manifesto
The election manifesto of the currently ruling party, the Conservatives, includes:
- Use of sobriety tags for criminals whose offense was fueled by alcohol.
Alcohol monitoring tags are not a new commitment for the party as they have stated the same in their 2015 manifesto. While the tags were trialed in London they did not go national, even though the available evaluation indicated successful compliance.
- Alcohol duty review.
The manifesto states the freezing of the tax duty for liquor over the past 2 years in the UK, was to benefit Scotch Whiskey as it was a national export. The Conservatives say they are ready to “do more” to support British alcohol producers.
This judgement is flawed and completely ignores the fact that tax cuts and the freezing of tax duty on alcohol in the UK has resulted in an increase of alcohol-related death in the country. Under the heavy burden of alcohol faced by the UK what needs to be done is increasing alcohol taxation to save lives.
The Labour party manifesto:
The election manifesto of the currently biggest opposition party, Labour, includes:
- A broad commitment to address alcohol-related health problems, drug deaths and the adverse impacts of gambling as matters of public health and to expand addiction support services.
The significant health cuts to public health in the UK recently has hit addiction services hard. Expansion of these services are much needed in the country.
- Labeling of alcohol beverages with health warnings.
Labeling of alcohol beverages is welcomed by public health advocates who have been calling for labeling over the past years.
- Review evidence on minimum unit pricing (MUP).
If reviewing the evidence is a step leading to the eventual implementation of MUP in England, it will significantly reduce alcohol harm in the country. After implementation of MUP, Scotland is already experiencing a reduction of alcohol consumption. Wales is set to follow the Scottish example and implement MUP in 2020.
The Liberal Democrat manifesto
The election manifesto of the former government coalition party, the Liberal Democrats, includes:
- A full commitment to implementing MUP.
Given the success of MUP in Scotland and the plan in Wales to also implement MUP, if this election promise is followed through, it has the potential to significantly reduce the alcohol burden in the UK.
- Expansion of addiction services.
Expansion of addiction services, as stated above, is a much needed move in the UK.
- Fund public information campaigns.
These campaigns are geared to tackle the stigma about addiction in specific communities.
- Legalize cannabis
This commitment is problematic as cannabis use is linked with major psychological diseases such as schizophrenia. Specifically adolescent cannabis use disrupts the development of the brain in this critical period, which can lead to reduced executive functioning of the brain including memory deficits and problems in decision making.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) manifesto
The election manifesto of the biggest political party in Scotlandy, the SNP, includes:
SNP has not made any specific commitments to alcohol policy in their manifesto. However, the party has a history of implementing an evidence-based alcohol strategy to prevent and reduce alcohol harm.
They also won a long standing battle against Big Alcohol in implementing MUP which has already led to reductions in alcohol use in Scotland which will reflect a reduction in alcohol harm.