I thought I was all done with watersheds, but as I approach my 57th year, I suddenly find myself distanced from the Labour Party I have supported all my life.
This proposed tax (and that is what it is) on alcohol will not stop binge drinking but it will stop ordinary families from having a bottle of wine with their Sunday dinner or a couple of pints in the pub after work. Do Labour really think they can stop problem drinking by raising the price of alcohol? Should the complete sentence really say: stop problem drinking among those who can't really afford it?
Have any of the advisory committee who came up with this ill thought out idea ever met an alcoholic? or indeed a drug addict? Do they honestly think price will put them off? Do they know how much drugs are and how much cash addicts hand over on a regular basis? Have they ever heard an addict, in any situation, say, well its gone up £10 a gram, so I won't bother anymore?
In their own world, MPs relax after work with a pint of beer or a fine claret, tickedy boo for them, but not good for the plebs. Is the plan to raise the price of alcohol across the board, the Dom Perignons and the Chablis, as well as the white ciders and the strong lagers. Or can those with superior taste buds and bigger salaries be trusted to behave?
Similarly, the nation's obesity problems will not be resolved by stopping poor kids from having sweets - forcing them to watch their richer peers stocking up on mars bars and kitkats will really hammer the good health message home. Nothing makes you feel better than watching your mates buy stuff you can't afford, and any future urges to binge will of course be unrelated.
The majority of working class parents, and indeed drinkers, are not stupid, and they use alcohol and treats in much the same way as the professional classes. Contrary to popular belief, and the belief of condescending labour politicians, most working class mums do not stuff chips in their babies mouths as soon as they get them home from hospital.
This generation of parents are far more enlightened than their predecessors, we all have 24/7 information via our tv screens, monitors and phones and most girls and young women know the exact calorie count of a Murray Mint and a medium sized grape.
The only way in which to combat growing obesity levels is through education. Find at least one hour a week in the curriculum to teach kids how to cook, how to prepare and how to enjoy healthy food. They will continue eating for the rest of their lives, its not something they can give up like algebra, food is essential and basic cookery lessons with give them life skills most will keep with them forever more. It really is that simple, kids love to cook, ask the class of 1970, who still know how to make a hearty stew and provide a nourishing meal for an invalid.
People cannot be forced to change their unhealthy eating habits or give up their nightly tipple by a shower of middle class busybodies telling them whats good for them. People who eat cream cakes until they weigh 70 stone have rather more problems than the price of their weekly shop. They will simply find another high calorific food source if bear claws are priced beyond their reach. The serious drinkers might of course try illegal potato vodka and end up irreparably maimed by their first sip thereby rendering their occasional use of NHS facilities permanent. The problem Mr. Milliband, is that addiction is a mental health problem that can only be resolved through the addict understanding their illness and making a conscious decision to try and resolve it.
The utilitarian approach of punishing the entire population, or should I say, the low paid and the unwaged, for the excesses of the few should be binned before a task force is set up to measure our waistlines and monitor our shopping lists. I already have nightmare visions of government officials weighing us at the checkouts and forcibly removing the boxes of Ferrara Rocher from our trollies, and the box of smarties hidden in our pockets.
Whilst the idea of getting the population hop, skipping and jumping towards the salad aisles might sound noble and philanthropic with your chums over a a fine port, when one is going home to a freezing cold bedsit, a hot sausage roll from Greggs (with added tax) is more appealing than an iceberg lettuce. It should also be mentioned that given the very limited resources of your core voters these days, binging on warm pastries is unlikely to be an option.
The problem drinkers, those clogging up the NHS will not stop drinking because the price of their tipple has gone up. Alcoholics ALWAYS find money for booze, even if it means the family has to cut down on food and the kids have to go without shoes. Alcoholism is an addiction that does not understand reason, logic and the need to budget sensibly. If an alcoholic is prepared to risk his or her life by downing a bottle of vodka in one, making it a pound dearer won't stop him. That is the reality. Addiction is the problem, not the price of a unit.
The kids knocking seven bells out of each other on the high streets, will not stop doing it because the drinks are crazy prices, they are already crazy prices, but it doesn't stop youngsters missing their Friday nights out, nor should it. The alcohol problem in Britain has naff all to do with the pricing and availability of alcohol, it is born out years of Nanny State rule, that doesn't have the courtesy to treat its citizens as independent, thinking, adults as other European countries do. We've always had to sup up quickly, before the last bell.
Kids who understand the dangers to their health of excessive drinking and the shame of out of control behaviour, are more likely to drink sensibly - and those who don't, learn the lesson like every generation before them, the hard way. Education is the only effective way to change attitudes and behaviour Mr. Milliband, not 50p on an alcopop.
I sometimes wonder if the Labour Party have now bought into the 'bash a benefit cheat or a poor person' ideology of their opposite numbers? Do they no longer have any desire to change the miserable lives of the downtrodden and the underprivileged through education and inspiration? The only way to stop destructive behaviour is through enlightenment. History has shown time and time again, that the lash does not change negative behaviour and good sound advice and law enforcement won't stop people drinking alcohol and partying like its 1999. The good health advice might be coming from a right on cool guy, but he's still the baptist preacher ranting about hell and damnation if we don't change our ways. The oldies are not always goodies. For those with addictions, they are already in hell.
If the government wants to make an impact on the future health of the nation, then it needs to target the youngsters who are attending school every day and who will benefit from an education in food technology for the rest of their lives, its like learning to drive, its something you never forget. If every child left school with even the most basic knowledge of nutrition and dietary needs, it would save billions in future NHS costs.
It is easier and of course, more profitable to opt for a solution to the nation's health problems with an idea that generates income rather than one that deals with the root cause and future prevention. Here's a wacky idea, if Labour really care about our health, how about lowering the price of healthy food, rather than raising the price of the junk?