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?