Thursday, 19 March 2009

Sir Liam Donaldson is a nutter, Part 2

Sir Liam Donaldson is the government's chief medical adviser. Recently, he's been arguing in favour of a new policy: a minimum price per unit of alcohol. That might get rid of the odd handful of dangerously cheap all-you-can-drink deals and promotions, but it'll also force sensible and moderate social drinkers up and down the country to pay more money.

You can argue the toss as to whether this is a good policy or not. Personally, I don't. But the main thing that bothers me is this: why does Donaldson see it as his business to come up with public policy? He's there to advise the government about medical science, so that they can come up with policy measures.

This isn't the first time that Donaldson has put forward ideas that are out of touch with reality. As I blogged last summer, his plans to cut the drink/drive limit for younger drivers were well-intentioned, but dangerous. But when a medical adviser unilaterally decides to invent sweeping measures that touch on licensing law, taxation and highways enforcement, it's not surprising that he comes up with junk.

Now, I'm not for a moment doubting Sir Liam's scientific expertise, and I'm not for a moment claiming that I could come up with any better suggestions of my own. But I would like to think that the state response to alcohol problems is formulated by the Department of Health on the basis of a lot of research and consultation, taking on expertise from a range of different sources. Just introducing something that the CMO dreamed up one evening at the pub is unlikely to make for good law - and if he does want to make the law, why doesn't he just stand for parliament?


Steven Allan said...

This is a private email and I would ask all of those who see it not to read it.

As a regular reader of your blog until you disappeared, I emailed you to see if you were still OK, but got no reply. I, therefore, emailed Jonathan Calder to see if he knew anything about what had happened to you. I got the same result viz. no reply.

As a Conservative, I always reply to people's emails, but obviously there are differences between our policies.

Suddenly, I see, a long article appears as though nothing has happened. Surely, you will have lost most of your readers by now. I've only just realised that you're back myself, and others may not go to the trouble of finding out, putting you down as a lost cause.

So I have no alternative but to write to you in this obscure way in the comments section of one of your posts. How does one contact you ? I used the email addresss on this blog.

I am glad, however, to know that you are still on the face of the earth.

Jonny Wright said...

Dear Steve,

Thanks very much for your comment.

I can only apologise for not replying to your email a few months ago. The email address on this site is correct, but I only use it for my blogger account etc. Unfortunately, for various personal reasons, I left off the blogging for several months, and in the meantime, didn't check the hugahoodie domain inbox either, for which I'm sorry. Feel free to use it from now on, and I will definitely reply!

I suppose it will be a bit tricky to rebuild the readership, but I'll try my best. I am back properly now, and intend to keep going for the foreseeable future.

I haven't done a big "I'm back" post because I just thought it would look a bit silly really! Best to just get stuck back in, I reckoned.

Thanks very much for dropping by, anyway; I appreciate the interest. I'll always be happy to reply to comments and emails, and look forward to plenty more interesting debates and discussions in future.

Best wishes,


Steven Allan said...

A reply at last. Please check your hugahoodie emails, as I have just emailed you. Thanks for the reply.


Anonymous said...

Apologies for digressing back onto the official subject matter.

The argument here is reminiscent of the suggestion by a doctor in Scotland that we should tax chocolate to combat obesity.

I object in principle because I don't see why I should have to fork out more for my desserts because other people have no self-control.

Merseymike said...

Given that you are opposed to the smoking ban, this is a logical position to take.

Whilst I don't agree with Donaldson on this one I think he does an excellent job and gets difficult issues on the agenda. Largely because he isn't bound by party politics where mavericks are cast aside - and that is just as true for your party as any other, as demonstrated by the choice of someone indistinguishable from a moderate Tory as your leader!

Shame, as I might have voted for you next time, but I'd rather have Cameron than Clegg