Fraser Nelson

A line of cocaine is now cheaper than half a pint of cider

A line of cocaine is now cheaper than half a pint of cider
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The biggest story in today’s Budget – ie, what will hit the public immediately – is the booze hikes. From 6pm tonight, they take effect. An extra 4p on a pint of beer, 3p on a glass of wine (touchingly, the Red Book says 175ml is typical – has anyone from the Treasury ordered a glass recently?), and 55p on a 70cl bottle of spirits. These increases will rise at 2% in future years on top on inflation (itself expected to be 2%). So, congratulations Gordon: a line of cocaine (on Dec07 street prices) is now cheaper than half a pint cider. What a wonderful country we live in.

Do any CoffeeHousers know of research that suggests such prices rises actually deter drunkenness? I don't. Drink has become steadily more expensive, and the mayhem on the streets has hardly calmed. I suspect the Friday night chaos the BBC loves to show us has more to do with the scandalous fact that the number prosecuted for being drunk-and-disorderly has collapsed from 30,700 prosecutions to 16,400 each year between 2000 and 2006 as police chased other targets – and started imposing these daft £40 fines instead of taking people to the cells.

UPDATE: There appears to be a cyberspace consensus that my working figure above of 35mg to a line of coke is somewhat parsimonious. Tim Worstall says I must be a lightweight (but he does cite Sainsbury’s 26p a pint for cider) and I can’t repeat what I’ve been called on Popbitch. So Charlie’s estimate of £2 a line of 40mg seems to be better-accepted – and this is, of course, more expensive than a price of half a cider even in my local. I therefore stand corrected.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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