I WOULD like to take issue with Rowdy Yates over his tirade concerning your reporting of the Supreme Court case concerning the minimum pricing on alcohol.

First, I don’t think you reported unfairly. There was a bit about what the SWA said but there was also a significant remark on the other side from, I believe, Lord Reed where he tended to agree with the minimum pricing.

Personally I am against the minimum pricing for a variety of reasons. One of them is Yates’s own remark that “no-one is suggesting this will cure alcoholics and dependent drinkers overnight”. No, it won’t — not overnight, not ever. Just as junkies manage to always find enough to buy drugs, much of this involving crime, then so will alcoholics always manage to get enough to drink regardless of the price. The only way to stop them drinking is to place them in clinics where their alcoholism might be cured. Even that might not work. There’s no guarantee that anything, other than death, will stop them drinking.

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Then there are the “youngsters” he refers to who arrive in the pub already drunk. They then go on to cause all sorts of havoc that costs us all money in policing and ambulances and hospital care. Yates seems to think this justifies charging all and sundry for their bad behaviour. Indeed that is also the government’s attitude. But it is not a just solution. They should be fined more heavily and made to pay for the police and ambulances if they need to be called.

People who sit quietly at home with a glass of whisky or who have a glass of wine with their evening meal should not have to pay more because other people cause trouble and expense elsewhere.

He also seems to adopt the attitude that poor people should not be allowed access to alcohol in case they drink too much — because statistics show that it’s the poorer people who drink the most. Well, I’m a poor person and I resent his attitude. I am just as entitled as the next person to have a quiet drink.

Yates should also look at the other side of the question when he says you are taking sides with the SWA. He is taking sides with Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and all the other multinationals who will see their already massive profits further bolstered by this extra money they will receive. This extra is not in the form of a tax. It is a minimum price that the supermarkets are to be forced to charge, and which they will retain. Since it seems to be the supermarkets, in flooding the market with the cheap booze, that are causing the problem, I find it galling that I will be forced to pay them extra to counter the problem that they are causing.

If it was done in the form of a tax, so that the money recovered could be used to offset the costs encountered by the police, our ambulances and our NHS staff when dealing with drunken behaviour, then I might be able to accept it. But that’s not happening. It’s all going into the supermarkets’ pockets. Let them, instead, be forced to stop the offers of cheap cans of strong beers and lagers, and leave the whisky and spirits alone.

There is one other comparison that must be made here. I can remember buying cigarettes for 3/10d for twenty. That’s about 19p in today’s money. Over the years the price of cigarettes has been hiked to around £7 for 20. This was increased taxation to discourage people from smoking. That didn’t work, so they brought in plain packaging and finally the cigarettes have to be hidden behind screens. People still smoke. Despite the cost poor people still smoke. Incidentally I used to smoke about 40 a day. It wasn’t the increasing prices that stopped me. It was a heart attack.

I say no to minimum pricing. Punish those who offend instead — not me.

CJ Kerr


Mind your language when discussing prejudice

I DID enjoy reading Paul Kavanagh’s account of growing up as a gay man in Scotland and Coatbridge in particular (Why I’m backing Wings Over Scotland against claim of homophobia, The National, July 28). It was a harrowing read and served to highlight the hostilities that prevailed in those times.

However, I wish to comment on one statement in his feature. Kavanagh stated that “homophobia wasn’t just widespread, it was obligatory” in 1970s Scotland. It wasn’t. Prejudice was.

The term “homophobia” was not in common usage at this time and was certainly not used to describe prejudice against homosexuals. I have reason to be wary of having the word in my vocabulary. The term was coined by the psychiatric profession in the 1950s and did not relate to gay people at all. Rather, it applied to an heterosexual male who had a phobia that his family, friends, relatives and colleagues thought that he was gay. The term was entered in the psychiatrist’s bible, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders (version III.) I feel that is a great pity to use a label that connects being gay to a psychiatric disorder. As a society, we dropped that notion years ago. For these reasons I am pedantic about how appropriate this term is, preferring to exclude it from my own vocabulary, using the word prejudice instead.

I am unsure why the word homophobia evolved this way, but likely reasons would be political or, indeed, to identify a discrimination distinctly identifiable in law.

WJ Graham
East Kilbride

I DON’T know if everyone is as confused as I am about the UK and Irish Brexit negotiations (Republic of Ireland’s government hits back in row over ‘border for Brexiteers’, The National, July 29). As far as I can remember, the UK or at least the UK Prime Minister promised a continuation of the open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. The Irish Taoiseach, naturally enough, agreed to this proposal.

But now the UK apparently wants to impose customs and immigration posts to monitor travellers inside the Republic at Irish airports and seaports. Anyone with a passing knowledge of modern Irish history would know how unacceptable that is to the Irish. In any case, quite what the point of this would be, with an open border into Northern Ireland, escapes me. Unless of course travel from the north to the UK is to be similarly controlled. That would be a bit ironic, to put it mildly, when one recalls the strident Unionist “no borders” campaign during the 2014 independence referendum.

Frankly, if the rest of the UK’s Brexit negotiations are as disorganised as this I really fear for the long-term outcome. As far as I am concerned it is a case of the incompetent doing the unnecessary for the unwilling.

Peter Craigie Edinburgh THE UK Government appeared to think that the whole of the EU would unite behind it and make sure that Great Britain had the easiest possible transition from member to non-member even if it meant considerable disruption to the remaining EU members.

More than a year after the referendum the UK Government has announced that it is to carry out a detailed analysis of the role of EU nationals in our economy and society that should have been done long before the referendum. The findings will be available next September, leaving little time to negotiate any changes with the EU or have a working UK immigration system in place before Brexit.

As the UK Government failed to carry out due diligence before the Brexit decision, many more aspects of our membership of the EU have yet to be analysed and assessed.

The announcement that most of the Cabinet agree the UK will need a transitional period looked more like a unilateral declaration than a request to the EU for negotiations on the possibility of having one.

Obviously the UK Government has not yet realised that the rest of the EU countries must seek to minimise the effect of Brexit on the EU. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar probably voiced the thoughts of the other members of the EU when he said that his government was not going to put any effort into carrying out work for the Brexiteers, because they are the ones who are leaving.

John Jamieson
South Queensferry