Alex Massie

Politician of the Year

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Andrew Stuttaford says Alexei Kudrin is Finance Minister of the year but, surely, that understates matters?

Russia’s finance minister has told people to smoke and drink more, explaining that higher consumption would help lift tax revenues for spending on social services. Speaking as the Russian government announces plan to raise duty on alcohol and cigarettes, Alexei Kudrin said that by smoking a pack, “you are giving more to help solve social problems such as boosting demographics, developing other social services and upholding birth rates”.

“People should understand: Those who drink, those who smoke are doing more to help the state,” he told the Interfax news agency.

Then again, given their Stakhanovite concumption already how much more can the average Ivan really be expected to do even in such a mighty patriotic cause? (Albeit one tinged with an unfortunate degree of dreaded statism with its implication that lungs and livers need to be exercised for more than just pleasure.) There's also the suspicion that these are kind words designed to salve the pain of swingeing increases in tobacco taxes.

Nevertheless, it's good that at least some pols remember who the Good Guys are.

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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