But now David Cameron seems to have struck upon a solution to the political problems, at least. And, as Paul Goodman notes over at ConservativeHome, that solution is localism. Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, the PM says that his government would look "very sympathetically" at plans by ten councils in Greater Manchester to introduce minimum pricing per unit of alcohol, adding that, "where there can be be local decisions we are very happy for that to happen." This suggests that local authorities could develop their own methods for controlling drinking in their areas without there being a matching national scheme in place. The subsequent praise or blame would attach itself to the councils and not the government.
It's still doubtful whether this could work, though – the Times notes how the European Union put the kybosh on a similar scheme to introduce minimum pricing for cigarettes in Ireland. But the broad, decentralising thrust of Cameron's thinking is admirable. And it could provide the coalition with a series of test beds should they ever want to move towards a more nationwide policy.