Monday, 18 January 2010

What a bucking idiot.............

The news is alive today with stories of Buckfast, the fortified tonic wine made by Benedictine monks, and how it is linked to over 5,000 violent offences in Scotland in the last 3 years. The Scots spend £50k a day on Buckfast and 54% of 'dangerous litter' found on Scottish housing estates is empty Buckfast bottles.

Scots spend more than £50,000 a day on BuckfastNow I'm the first to take umbrage when the BBC attacks alcohol and blaims it for all the ills of society but what's got my goat today is not the BBC but the idiot distributor, Jim Wilson of J Chandler & Co who is playing straight into the anti alcohol lobbyists hands.

Interviewed for a BBC documentary he came out with the following claiming the Benedictine monks are not to blame for the effects of Buckfast on the outside world...........

“Why should they accept responsibility? They’re not up there pouring their Buckfast down somebody’s throat. People take it by choice because they like it, because it’s a good product.”

Asked if the monks should accept any kind of moral responsibility, Mr Wilson said:

“No, they produce a good product. I drink it. Now, if I thought there was something wrong with it, would I drink it?”
What a fool. Whilst I struggle to believe the monks are completely unaware of the impact alcohol misuse can have on society there is no way that Mr Wilson can claim the same and as a seller of alcohol he absolutley has a moral responsibility to promote a respect for alcohol, something he is not doing by selling a drink that affects the behaviour of consumers, potentially making them anxious and aggressive.and which contains more than 11 units of alcohol, is 15 per cent by volume — and costs just £5.49.

People like this shouldn't be in the business of selling alcohol and giving the rest of the industry a bad name.


Curmudgeon said...

Umm, £5.49 per bottle is about 50p per unit which is considerably more expensive than large numbers of canned beers, table wines and spirits. Clearly its appeal is not primarily bangs-per-buck. Vodka at £8.99 a bottle, or 32p a unit, is widely available.

As Dick Puddlecote points out here, it's good to see someone actually taking the fight to the neo-Prohibitionists rather than indulging in a pathetic cringe.

Kristy said...

I agree that seeing someone take a stand against the neo-prohibitionists should be applauded - but only if they have a defensible position which this guy doesn't.

Had Brewdog chosen to come out in strong defence of Tokyo* (rather than play the Portman stunt)they should have been applauded. Yes Tokyo* is a high ABV (relative to other beers) but they are selling it in a way and at a price that is wholly responsible. If Guinness came out against any proposed ban on alcohol advertising again they could be applauded for taking on the neo's with good reason but this guy does not have a leg to stand on.

This isn't about the price per unit, it's about affordability. For the Buckfast drinker it's the difference between getting wasted, (Vodka @ £8.99), or getting wasted and having ten tabs.

If Mr Wilson is to be believed and Buckfast is being drunk by nice gents like himself because it's a good product then why price it at £5.49? Surely he's a businessman and about making money so he'd want to extract as much value as possible, if it really is drunk my nice upstanding citizens then price it accordingly.

But he isn't doing that because he wants to make a quick buck and he realises that comes from selling it out cheap and fast to younger drinkers which is adding to alcohol abuse and anti social behaviour in Scotland. So maybe the monks have no moral responsibility but as the guy punting it out he absolutely does and never mind cringing he should hang his head in shame.

Curmudgeon said...

But it's not cheap, is it? In fact it's at the top end of the price range for mainstream off-trade drinks.

Is it really the monks' fault that it has become a cult product amongst neds in the West of Scotland?

And, if it was withdrawn from sale, would the Scots return to civilised sobriety, or would they just settle on some other product?

Adrian Tierney-Jones said...

Disregarding the price thing, he’s rare in making a point about personal responsibility — that seems to be the whole thing missing in the debate about drinking, the people who are getting scammered and causing trouble in city centres are treated in the same way as Victorian colonialists treated native peoples — as simple folk who have to be nannied because they are not developed enough to know what they are doing. Instead make them face up to their behaviour and come down on them hard, along with the drink-all-you-can-for-tuppence retailers. Can’t you still get nicked for drunk and disorderly? And while I’m at it the fact that the supermarkets are ignored is a disgrace. Cheap booze is not a human right.

Stono said...

Supermarket own label spirits sell for between 4-5 pounds for 35cl bottles, and 6-7 for traditional 70cl bottles, all at 37.5% or 40% alcohol strength. So bang for your buck, (sorry) buckfast doesnt compete in getting you wasted quickly cheaply, you could even replicate the buckfast caffeine hit with some cheap branded energy drinks as a mixer. So theres definately far more to Buckfast than pure cost and alcohol hit as there are easily available cheaper stronger alternatives. But we dont know why those young offenders drank Buckfast, because the programme never bothered to ask them, for all we know Tokyo * is the alternative they used when the buckies ran out.

But the point Brew Dog and most people who look at Tokyo * or even nuclear penguin slightly nervously make when we accept more readily what they do, is yes first its a deliberate cost point, and its also clear its a strong drink that you are supposed to drink responsibly. So you shouldnt try and neck the stuff in 30seconds and post the resultant video on youtube. That however isnt something Brew Dog or Buckfast can ultimately control.

and one final point, if were railing against monks brewing beer, quite alot of Belgian lager, much of it alot stronger than our own, is brewed by Belgian monks, but I dont believe the Belgians moan at the monks if they drink too much of it.