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Saturday, October 10, 2009

UK Conservatives to raise prices of cider

I'm very hot and cold when it comes to the UK Conservative Party. They talk a good talk about making government smaller and personal responsibility. But then they announce something like this:

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling told the party's conference he would double the price of supermarket brand high-strength cider, currently one of the cheapest drinks on the shelf.

Yes take personal responsibility but we are going to limit your ability to make choices. Yes small government, so small in fact that it looks like your little old nanny.

Seriously this is the sort of move that I would expect from Dalton McGuinty's Liberals in Ontario. Not from the supposed great hope of free market individualism in the UK.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on October 10, 2009 | Permalink


The problem may be that libertarians are pressured to cohabitate with conservatives in conservative parties. As Canadians probably undesrtand better than Americans, conservatism is traditionally an illiberal philosophy upholding legally-entrenched class systems, mercantilism, and overseas colonialism. We may prefer them to socialists because at least conservatives are honest about their motivation -- amassing political power -- but they are still not our allies.

That's the advantage I see to proportional legislatures, like the German federal Bundestag: the Christian Democrats (conservatives) frequently coalition with the Free Democrats (libertarian), but each is psychologically distinct for the voter. Therefore, the voters can return a government like they just did, with an overwhelming mandate for the FDP but still a plurality for the CDP, i.e. we'll leave the conservatives in power, but they better play ball with the libertarians. It also helps politicians stick to their platform, because they don't have to form a broad (read: muddled) compromise platform like the American duopoly parties.

-Mike Vine

Posted by: Mike Vine | 2009-10-10 8:29:33 AM

conservatism is an iliberal philosophy, the problem is that no one believes in the philosphy of conservatism anymore. Unless you think that the landed aristocracy should have a greater say in government affairs.

That is to say, we are all one type of liberal or another.

Posted by: Hugh MacIntyre | 2009-10-10 9:35:25 AM

The trouble with proportional legislatures, Mike, is that they produce fragile minority Parliaments, and we have already seen how well those work in Canada; three, possibly four elections in the last five years, and very little accomplished. What works for Germany will not necessarily work for Canada, or any other country.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-10-10 9:46:20 AM

By the way, at the risk of appearing to actually talk about the subject at hand, did Grayling give a reason for raising the price of cider? And furthermore, at the risk of actually raising one of the libertarians' own talking points, is there anything wrong with taxing and regulating, as they propose to do with marijuana? Or is that just seen as an interim step toward giving dope away for free at birthday parties?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-10-10 9:52:08 AM

One reason for raising the price of cider might be to try and slow down the brain rot that seems to be destroying England. Cheap, poor quality liquor is known to damage the brains of certain demographics. Malt liquor, in 40 oz. bottles has been blamed for lowering the IQ of inner city African Americans.

When I first moved to Alberta, cider was available in gallon jugs. There was one called Applejack, and another called Doublejack. I've been to several events that involved cider, and firearms. The firearms have a way of steering the more sensible people down the right path. Maybe that's the problem in England. No firearms to discourage binge drinking.

Posted by: dp | 2009-10-10 10:15:10 AM


When libertarians actually produce respectable numbers your analysis would hold. At one one hundredth of the Green Party vote, Libertarians don't have much political leverage in Canada.

As to the drinking situation in the UK, I'm reminded of the importance of ensuring Vodka in abundance in the old Soviet Union and for pretty much the same reason. If you keep them drunk enough, they won't realize that under the guise of the eco-nanny state, they have lost most of their freedoms. Conservatives in these states can only rule as liberals and only take on issues peripheral to actually questioning the size and legitimacy of leviathan.

Thatcher's rude interruption of the UK trip down the road to serfdom has almost been completely paved over.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2009-10-10 11:43:14 AM

@ Mike Vine: Great comment.
@ Hugh MacIntyre: no, what "we", as in 80% of the polity, are, is one stripe of social democrat or other.
There are about as many conservatives as there are whigs.
The only thing conservatives conserve is power, and older forms of social democracy.
As Mr Vine says, libertarians, stupidly (and I count myself among the formerly stupid) conform to pressure to ally or cohabit political parties with conservatives.
The problem with most libertarians is, they won't promote actual freedom in most cases cuz they are afraid of offending the small hard core of their conservative (right wing social democratic) friends and associates (and sometimes, their money).
Libertarians tolerate ersatz libertarianism among conservatives without really challenging it.
The Conservative Party of the UK may be somewhat more traditionally conservative than the Canadian counterpart, but is still not conservative in any meaningful sense. They are social democrats with a socialist wing and an occasionally moderate liberal wing.
There are no conservatives.
What we have allowed to happen is to permit socialists, and later, some conservatives, to hijack the term liberal.
Time to unapologetically and energetically TAKE IT BACK.
Time to consistently associate libertarianism with liberalism, and vice versa.
There may be something to the whimsical concept of liberaltarianism that is beginning to be bandied about.
It may even be happening in Alberta: with Danielle Smith, "libertarian" might be the new "liberal" -- as it is safe to say that the source of her greatest support will come from a percentage of so-called Tories, from consciouss libertarians, from the Great Non Voting Traditional Albertan (who are traditionally small-l liberal), and from freedom oriented Dippers (yes, they do exist -- that is where I was party-wise when I began taking liberty seriously).
But it really is time to say it out loud: conservatism, RIP.

Posted by: John Collison | 2009-10-10 2:14:05 PM

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling told the party's conference he would double the price of supermarket brand high-strength cider, currently one of the cheapest drinks on the shelf.

Yes take personal responsibility but we are going to limit your ability to make choices.
Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on October 10, 2009

The issue is binge drinking by the chavs. Go to any English city center at night and you'll find dozens of them bombed out of their minds on cheap high alcohol content cider and Buckfast Tonic Wine. If putting up the price alleviates some of the problems they cause I'm all for it.

Posted by: The Stig | 2009-10-10 4:56:01 PM

UK nanny Tories were likely emboldened by PM Stephen Harpo Harper's bold pronouncements against, and banning of, candy-flavoured cigarettes.

Posted by: John Collison | 2009-10-10 7:19:26 PM

Actually, Stig, they were talking about doing something about the overabundance of rice wine here in Vancouver, for largely the same reasons dp suggests. Apparently impoverished men, mostly Asians, are literally drinking themselves to death with it. It’s powerful and extremely cheap, and at up to 50 proof, is far stronger than any cider or malt liquor. They don’t usually get violent or make a nuisance of themselves—at least, not until someone has to cart the corpse away.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-10-10 9:28:22 PM

John, you can’t take back a word. Language is a living thing, constantly evolving and changing. Like history, it has defied all attempts to housebreak it, tame it, or even lead it. And you are certainly not going to do it with your numbers low, low down in the single digits.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-10-10 9:30:39 PM

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