LDV members' survey (2): booze, recession and Afghanistan

by Stephen Tall on April 4, 2009

Over the last week, Lib Dem Voice has invited the members of our private forum (open to all Lib Dem members) inviting them to take part in a survey, conducted via Liberty Research, asking a number of questions about the party and the current state of British politics. Many thanks to the almost 200 of you who completed it; we’re publishing the results on LDV over the next few days.

We asked: The Chief Medical Officer has proposed fixing a minimum price for alcohol sales in Britain. This measure is opposed by the Tories and Labour, but supported by Lib Dem spokespeople. Do you believe it is time to support a minimum price for alcohol?

Here’s what you told us:

34.7% – Yes, minimum prices will help tackle the UK’s binge drinking problems
8.3% – Maybe, there’s merit in the proposal but the middle of a recession is the wrong time
51.8% – No, government should not penalise the responsible majority because of an irresponsible minority

These results were, in fact, strikingly similar to our poll on the public blog, addressing the same issue.

Here are a couple of your comments:

In Scotland, our policy’s the direct opposite of this! It makes life very difficult at FMQs.
I’m in favour because it would support pubs. It would do nothing at all to tackle binge drinking.
Absolutely not. No way is this the way to tackle the problem of binge drinking. Need to look at the cause not support a ‘cure’ which this is not
A minimum price for alcohol is illiberal and will hit the wrong people in the wrong way. Better education and policing is a much better solution.
Minimum price for alcohol will actually stop the unfair advantage which is in place for the likes of Tesco. It will reduce alcohol consumption for the youngestmost dependent on alcohol. Causal drinkers would hardly notice a difference.

Next we asked about the current recession: When do you think the UK economy will begin to grow again?

Here’s what you told us:

6.7% – Second half, 2009
22.3% – First half, 2010
24.9% – Second half, 2010
17.6% – 2011
9.8% – Later than 2011
18.7% – Don’t know

Just over half of you believe the recession will come to an end within the next 18 months or so, while a little more than one-quarter think it will last into 2011 or beyond. Almost a fifth of you were honest enough to admit none of us really has a clue. One commenter suggested, “Ask Vince. He knows all and sees all.”

Finally, for today, we turned our attention overseas, asking: Should British troops withdrawn from Iraq be redeployed to Afghanistan?

Here’s what you said:

49.2% – Yes, they are needed there
17.1% – No, other countries should send troops
24.9% – No, all foreign military deployment in Afghanistan should end
8.8% – Don’t know

Here’s a selection of your thoughts:

But other Nato countries still need to commit more. Obama encouraging Iran, China and Russia to get involved is right.

we need to win the battle of hearts and minds in Afghanistan and the british troops have a history of achieving this. it will take time.

It has been centuries since a war was won in Afghanistan; invasion was folly.

Britain is already overstretched in trying to be a world policeman; Vince has said that we will have to look at our defence comittments in view of our financial situation, and he is quite right.

If we abandon Afghanistan now it will have been pointless invading in the first place, and problems will expand to neighbouring countries such as Pakistan. We need to see this through.

We are supporting an imperial adventure. Its expensive, has no clear strategic purpose and is a wste of blood and treasure. another poor call by the leadership.

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No comments

What will the Kremlinologists make of Vince’s comments on this on last nights Any Questions ?

by David Morton on April 4, 2009 at 2:30 pm. Reply #

The policy on alcohol and the gormless rantings of Norman Lamb are neither well thought out or Liberal.

A minimum price on alcohol simply punishes the vast majority and does nothing to address the underlying reasons for the problem in the first please.

Cheap gesture politics from the gormless Lamb and I would have expected better from the usually astute Vince on the matter.

by Martin Kinsella on April 4, 2009 at 3:06 pm. Reply #

I’d like to repeat a comment I made on the questionaire.

“Should British troops withdrawn from Iraq be redeployed to Afghanistan?” is a daft question.

So you take a squadie who has done six months hard graft risking his life in Iraq and stick him on a plane, with the sand still on his boots, to Helmond province to face the Taliban? Of course not – but that is the implication of your question due to clumsy drafting. It would have been better to have asked something like “As a result of troop reductions in Iraq, should British troop numbers be increased in Afghanistan?”

by Paul Walter on April 4, 2009 at 9:32 pm. Reply #

Paul – thanks for the drafting suggestion! The wording in this case wasn’t mine, so I don’t feel over-defensive in noting that you were the only person who completed the survey to interpret the question quite so literally. 😉

by Stephen Tall on April 5, 2009 at 11:10 am. Reply #

No one has answered the question I asked about how else we can stop binge drinking, so in the absence of that I am strongly inclined to support the leadership on this.
Another question no one has answered is that if economic growth is no longer allowed to be driven by a bubble in the financial sector built on debt, how else are we going to acheive growth? As things stand we find that the banks are not leading, not even to reputable companies, and that compares unfavourably to how things were in the 1930s. Add to that the impact of global warming and resource shortages, I do not see any prospect of meaningful growth for the forseeable future.
As for Afghanistan, just as in Iraq, we will never have enough troops there to bring about law and order. We are sending our troops there to die invain, we should bring them back. An international crises elsewhere – maybe Egypt or Saudi Arabia would leave us overstretched and unable to respond. I accept there is a price to be paid if our troops leave, but the problem is insoluble and withdrawal is the least worst option.

by Geoffrey Payne on April 5, 2009 at 12:28 pm. Reply #

Why should “we” ( by which you mean the state) be able to stop binge drinking? can you imagine the kind of state that was able to carry off that sort of micromanagement? the level of observation,interference and force that would be needed?

What is binge drinking anyway ? it seems to have covered a multitude of sins in this discussion to date.

by David Morton on April 5, 2009 at 1:01 pm. Reply #

And again Geoffrey I will answer your first question. We currently have laws which stop pubs serving “drunks”, enforcing this should help. We also have laws stopping minors purchasing alcohol, we should also ensure that this is enforced. We have laws which allow the police to confiscate alcohol from people drunk on the streets, again we could enforce this more.
Finally if someone is really out to get wasted, no financial barrier is going to stop them. Drinks in the pubs are already over the 50p/unit price (excluding some 2 for 1s) so do your really think raising the price of 10 pints of Stella at Asda to £15, when the local is still selling it at £30 is going to stop people buying the stuff?

by Ryan Cullen on April 5, 2009 at 1:05 pm. Reply #

The current laws are worth having, but more needs to be done. Alcoholic drinks are at a low price by historic standards, putting the price up may well discourage some people from buying excessive quantities. It may not be the best policy – but what are the alternatives?
The state ends up paying if it does nothing. Binge drinking ensures that we have to pay more for the NHS and the law enforcement agencies.

by Geoffrey Payne on April 6, 2009 at 11:29 pm. Reply #

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