Labour ‘supportive’ of minimum unit pricing23rd September, 2013 by Andy Young
Andy Burnham, the UK’s shadow secretary of state for health has told the Labour Party conference in Brighton that the Opposition was supportive “in principle” of minimum unit pricing for alcohol.
Burnham told the conference that the government’s decision to drop its minimum pricing policy, as well as plain cigarette packaging, had left public health policy “in the wilderness”.
He added: “I am in principle committed to a form of minimum unit pricing. There are ways you can do it constructed so you really get to the heart of the problem.
“It is that trick of doing something that carries the country with you. I don’t think it would help those who want to see policy advance in this area if there was a backlash.
“But I think we can do that.”
He said MPs were more “hesitant” over legislating on alcohol unlike something like smoking, because “I don’t think most of us are non-drinkers”.
“But you only have to look at the statistics to see we cannot carry on as we are. We have to reassess our relationship with alcohol as a country.”
Former spin doctor for Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell, said that behind the scenes Labour was engaged in a debate about whether it would be better to use tax hikes instead.
Campbell said: “It’s very hard for a politician to be a killjoy and it’s very difficult for a politician to say, in these difficult, often miserable times, we’re going to take away things that you really, really like.
“But at some point you have to reach a conclusion about the cost of not doing something.
“They are having a debate about whether they do it through minimum unit pricing or whether it is through the taxation system.”