On Tuesday, the SNP came under fire for their double-standards over alcohol taxation. On a BBC Programme last Sunday evening, the Justice Cabinet Secretary Kenny MacAskill said he would increase tax on alcohol if he had the powers. However it has emerged that the Cabinet Secretary for Finance John Swinney has been lobbying Westminster for a cut in duty for Scottish-produced spirits.This news begs the question exactly who is in charge of alcohol policy for the Scottish government. On one hand the Justice Minister wants to talk tough whilst his Finance colleague completely undermines him. The SNP are in a muddle on this policy.
There also appears to be a contradiction and muddle, over Nationalist policy in Falkirk, where the SNP would like the sale of alcohol from shops to be restricted to over21s. Falkirk Council’s Labour led administration are tackling the problem head on With a strong licensing board, the newly set up licensing forum, retention of the community wardens, and budget increases in youth provision. This is the way forward, by ensuring that the laws are being upheld, and that young people have positive alternatives, with all the agencies involved in dialogue with each other recognising that this is a nationwide problem, with no instant fixes, with problems having built up over many generations, the Scottish Government has to get its act together and tackle this crisis now.
The relationship between booze and blades is one that needs to be taken seriously. Too many victims have been created and tough action needs to be taken. Picking fights with Westminster is not the way forward and it clearly smacks of a government completely confused on the way forward.