Will SNP see sense over deposit return scheme and alcohol marketing restrictions? – John McLellan

From her campaign launch at the Cairngorm Brewery to yesterday’s visit to the Scotch Whisky Experience on Castlehill, SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes gives the drinks and hospitality sectors hope that the Scottish Government’s double-fronted assault on their businesses will be short-lived.
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The needless inclusion of glass in the deposit return scheme (DRS) threatens indigenous distillers and brewers and will smash the business model for cross-border online trade, and a planned alcohol advertising ban would prevent Scottish manufacturers from marketing their products in their home market. Evidence is all around the Scottish Government of the increasing effectiveness of current recycling schemes, particularly kerb-side glass, and the ineffectiveness of alcohol marketing bans around the world, but then the SNP and Greens have an aversion to evidence gathering in case it exposes fundamental weaknesses in their arguments.

It’s difficult to think of other ways to cripple the drinks industry, other than outright 1920s US-style prohibition, and we all know how that ended up. And it’s not as if Scotland’s housing estates aren’t already in the grip of gangsters who have no need for expensive marketing or fancy packaging to trap young people in a spiral of drug-induced misery.

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Ready, fire, aim seems to be the SNP-Green strategy, but the tragedy is that in shooting themselves in the foot, it’s real people who will bear the scars. As the UK Government considers whether the DRS breaks internal market laws, they should instead wait to see if the new SNP administration demonstrates more common sense than the last one.