Alex Massie

Big Business & Big Government, Together Again...

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There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of the Scottish government's desire to set alcohol prices. Not the least of them is that, in addition to the usual health police, the measure is backed by big business. And why wouldn't it be? The SNP seem to think that Molson Coors' support for similar measures in Canada and the brewer's suggestion that the Canadian experience be copied in the UK represents a major breakthrough for the idea.

Well, perhaps it does. But Molson Coors is, I think, Canada's biggest brewer and they also make Carling - the most popular lager in the UK. So of course they recognise that increased government intervention in the marketplace is no bad thing. That is, while it might inconvenience Molson Coors a little, it will do much more damage to the firm's smaller rivals than it will to Molson Coors. Consequently, Molson Coors will be better off, relatively speaking, with more regulation than they would have been if the market were left to its own devices.

This is hardly surprising. Similar arguments dictate Walmart's support for health care reforms in the US and Philip Morris's support for increased tobacco regulation. Equally, proposals to make restaurants display the calorific content of their meals are good news for large chains and terrible for smaller, independent reastaurants.

When Big Business and Big Government get together you get exactly what you would expect: a conspiracy against the public in which the interests of both business and the government are advanced and the public is not well-served. But why should anyone be surprised by that?

[Via SNP Tactical Voting]

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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