I was a member of the Conservative Party for years. I led my University's Conservative association to control of our student union. I have an instinctive affiliation with the party. Knowing that I will probably not live to see the new Libertarian Party have real influence, let alone office (it took the Labour Party 24 years from its foundation to see office for the first time) I must still hope for Conservative electoral success.
Conservatives are not naturally so extravagant as Labour, which means a smaller state. They are not naturally so authoritarian neither, though the mumsy/chumsy wing are paternalist authoritarians - “for your own good, dear."
For two days this story from the Conservatives' site has been sitting in my RSS feeds infuriating me. What people do with their money and their bodies is entirely a matter for them. Yes, when people are drunk they sometimes do bad things, as they sometimes do when sober. So hold them accountable for their actions in either case. In choosing to become intoxicated, they took the risk that alcohol's dis-inhibiting effects (for which they bought it) might lead them into trouble. Their choice; their responsibility. Without alcohol's dis-inhibiting effects, the reserved British would probably die out. Or at least only the physically attractive would be able to breed, which would mean that the political classes would die out. Is that what the Conservatives want?
To make the political point that Labour has “failed to control” binge drinking is to accept that they have the right to do so. It is also to imply that the Conservatives will succeed in controlling it, which is a particularly stupid hostage to give to political fortune. Has the Shadow Health Secretary any idea how much state power he would need to deploy to stop all those who want to get drunk from doing so? Does he not realise that the consequences of such power would be worse than the evil he seeks to cure? If not, does he not realise that he is in the wrong political party?
To bracket "excessive drinking" and "associated violent crime" is to exonerate criminals and blame alcohol. Then action on alcohol can be "spun" as genuine action on crime (and to hell with holding people responsible for their own actions, as a civilised society must). It is is just the sort of sodden thinking that got us into our current social nightmare. It has no place in the Conservative Party. But then neither, these days, do I.