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The days of 'make mine a large one' could be numbered

The days of 'make mine a large one' could be over Photo: ITV News

To tackle what he calls "the scourge of violence caused by binge drinking" the Prime Minister today will announce a new minimum price for alcohol and more powers to tackle drunken behaviour.

Now, this is controversial, even though the vast majority of the public will certainly support the idea of trying to prevent the crime, anti-social behaviour and the massive strain on the NHS and the police caused by drinking to excess.

The police and most health experts are on side but the drinks industry is concerned that the PM might be wielding a large sledgehammer to crack an, admittedly unacceptable nut. A more "sophisticated approach" is needed they say and minimum pricing is not a magic bullet.

The days of 'make mine a large one' could be over Credit: ITV News

But this is an issue the Prime Minister has wanted to highlight and "DO" something about from day one, though he stresses he's not out to interfere with moderate, responsible, social drinking and he has a mountain of sometimes quite startling statistics to back him up.

Today he'll say that over half of all alcohol consumed is drunk in a binge session, there's been a 25% increase in the number of deaths from liver disease and that, though overall drinking levels are falling, there is a rise among the young and particularly young women. And it's estimated one in four people in the UK drink at "dangerous levels".

In addition to minimum pricing, which is expected to be 40p a unit, bulk-buy discount offers will not be allowed, there will be a zero tolerance policy against drunken behaviour in A&E, plus a late night levy on pubs and clubs to contribute to policing costs .

But the defining argument as far as the government is concerned is what the measure will save on their calculations £80 million on health and crime costs in the first year alone and many thousands of levies in the next decade.

And headlines on binge drinking strategies look a lot better to the Prime Minister than claims the Chancellor is guilty of "Granny bashing" after the budget!

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