Alex Massie

Something Must Be Done! This is Something!

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Chris Dillow has a splendid post filleting the Scottish government's plans to raise the age at which one may purchase alcohol at an off-license from 18 to 21. As he rightly says this is the usual mixture of paternalism, petty managerialism and soul-crushing illiberalism trussed up with a justification that there's a problem so, rather than enforce existing laws, the public needs the protection of additional measures that, regardless of their likely effectiveness, demonstrate that the government is listening and doing something. Anything.

It's too much to suppose that our parliamentarians might be impressed by any philosophical or moral objection to their creation of yet more laws prohibiting or curtailing people's freedoms, but they might, one hopes, be persuaded by some practical examples of the consequences of their folly. Thus, for instance, to take but one example that leaps to mind, a 19 year old squaddy who buys a bottle of champagne to celebrate with his family his happy return to Scotland from a tour of duty in Afghanistan will be breaking the law. How can that be right? You can doubtless come up with your own hypothetical scenarios demonstrating the absurdity of this measure...

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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