James Wilmore: Into the lion's den

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Prime minister of the united kingdom, Sally keeble

Earlier this week, I entered the lion's den. Not literally, of course, but No. 10 Downing Street. The occasion was a reception for MP Sally Keeble's...

Earlier this week, I entered the lion's den. Not literally, of course, but No. 10 Downing Street.

The occasion was a reception for MP Sally Keeble's bid for action on irresponsible alcohol sales - including the introduction of minimum pricing and various other proposals.

It was a rather bizarre occasion, if I'm honest. Admittedly, stepping through the front door of one of the most famous residences in the world felt pretty special. And getting a chance to walk up the stairway populated with portraits of past Prime Ministers was something I'll never forget.

But the reason why it was odd was because of the people present and the whole feel of the reception. For a start, for some inexplicable reason there were untold swathes of schoolchildren darting around over-excitedly.

It soon became evident, as well, that the number of folks from the health lobby - ie Alcohol Concern, the British Medical Association, Professor Ian Gilmore, far outnumbered invitees from the pub trade.

Later on Sally Keeble said a few words and then handed over to the top man himself Gordon Brown, who spoke about the dangers of alcohol and the "profound impact" it was having on our society.

Don Shenker, Alcohol Concern's new(ish) chief executive, also was given a platform to address the throng.

What was worrying was the anti-alcohol tone of the PM's speech and the fact the health lobby far outnumbered pub people.

We all know Gordon has a lot on his mind at the moment, but before the economy began its dramatic collapse, alcohol-related problems were figuring fairly high on his agenda of problems to tackle.

Undoubtedly there are questions that need to be asked and issues to be addressed around booze, but once again the pub trade is left hoping for a targeted approach and not another hammerblow like the Budget duty hikes. We can but hope…

Related topics: Legislation

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