ID cards by the back door

I get the impression that ID cards will be forced on us sooner rather than later, despite what the new government says. Labour tried the threat of terrorism to scare us into accepting them, but most of us weren’t fooled by it. They should have tried this approach as reported in the Scotsman,

DRINKERS who look under 25 years old would be required to produce proof-of-age ID in order to buy alcohol under plans to tackle Scotland’s drink problem.

In an attempt to change the nation’s drinking culture, Labour wants to introduce a mandatory “Challenge 25″ scheme that would force drinkers with youthful looks to carry identification proving that they are over 18 if they want to buy alcohol from off-sales or drink in pubs and restaurants.

You want a glass of wine with your meal? Papers please?

The plan, which is similar to the system operated in the United States, would affect hundreds of thousands of Scots by forcing them carry passports or driving licences when they go out on the town to prove they are over 18.

So expect an inundation of new driving licences and passports to have to be issued after a night on the town. And if any illegal immigrant wants a passport, well they just have to follow a young person home from the pub and mug them.

Even drinkers over the age of 25 would be forced to prove their age if bar staff believe they could be younger.

“We want to protect shop staff and bar staff so that anybody who looks younger than 25 is asked for ID before they buy alcohol,” a Labour spokesman said.

“At the moment, people tend just to ask drinkers if they look 16, 17,18 or 19 but we want to raise the bar to 25.

“This will make it much more difficult for underage people to buy alcohol and will create a culture whereby every young person who wants to buy alcohol will have to produce ID.”

They like creating cultures, don’t they? You would think they’d be happier being microbiologists. Only, the twelve year olds drinking cider in the park will be unaffected as they aren’t buying the booze anyway.

SNP ministers have already proposed introducing a “Challenge 21″ system, a provision that is contained in the Scottish Government’s controversial Alcohol Bill, which is currently making its way through parliament.

Last night, the SNP government indicated that it would look favourably on Labour’s proposal to amend the Bill so that the barrier is raised to 25.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said last night: “We are pleased that Labour thinks that this is a good idea.

With a straight face?

In America, laws governing the purchase of alcohol have, as a rule, been far stricter than those in the UK.

In all states, the legal limit for drinking is 21. Some states, including California and New York, operate a “Challenge 30″ policy, whereby identification has to be produced if the buyer looks under 30.

Other states simply ask anyone wanting to buy alcohol for ID, a situation that results in even senior citizens showing a driving licence when they go to the off-licence.

Now, this would suit Labour.

The “Challenge 25″ proposal was included in an interim report published by the Alcohol Commission set up by Labour to look at Scotland’s troubled relationship with drink.

Better people have tried for centuries to sort out Scotland’s drinking problems.

But the document released yesterday by the commission, chaired by Professor Sally Brown, of Stirling University, made no recommendations on minimum pricing – the most contentious policy of the SNP government’s Alcohol Bill.

As you know, I was/am an alcoholic. Higher drink prices means less spent on food and heating, and children going without.

Today, MSPs on Holyrood’s Health Committee are expected to publish a report on the bill, which will reflect the parliamentary divide on the issue by failing to back or reject minimum pricing.

In Scotland, minimum pricing has been opposed by the Tories, the Lib Dems and Labour – leaving the Bill well short of the parliamentary majority that it requires to get through parliament.

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14 Responses to ID cards by the back door

  1. English Viking says:


    Don’t worry, the Conservatives pledged to completely abolish them during the run-up to the election, and we all know that anything that Call Me Dave promises is ‘cast-iron’.

  2. They like creating cultures, don’t they? You would think they’d be happier being microbiologists.

    Good line, Stewart!


    The serious side of it is that it does raise a very basic question about the roll of government. Is part of the task of government to change the culture of the land (i.e. people’s beliefs and behaviour) to one that is better or more moral? Or are such attempts at social engineering simply inappropriate?

  3. Stewart Cowan says:


    I got a tweet today from a chap at the TPA: @isaby Sir George Young announces that the Bill to abolish ID cards will be the first piece of legislation to go before the Commons.

    Maybe they’ll go straight for the RFID chips?!

  4. Stewart Cowan says:


    Tom Harris once wrote: WHO would have thought that our resident creationist, conspiracy enthusiast and devout opponent of gay and abortion rights, Stewart Cowan, had a sense of humour?

    It’s an interesting question about how much influence the government should have on the nation’s culture. We know they have been re-engineering society for ungodly reasons, but it would be good for sensible suggestions on problems relating to alcohol.

  5. Ally says:

    Surely this would only require an ID card to be carried by somebody wishing to purchase alcohol?

    Much ado and speculation about nothing, ID cards were never going to stop terrorism and they won’t change attitudes to alocohol.

    As for your point about alcohol pricing will displace expenditure elsewhere you surely are missing one key fact about alcoholics; an alcoholic will find the money irrespective of price. In my experience – which is extensive – there is no money left, the alcoholic spends every penny he can lay his hand on, to the point of selling his company car and emptying the kid’s bank accounts, as it was in my Dads case – your counterpoint just doesn’t add up. As a teenager I heard similar stories from many attending Alateen meetings.

    The best thing we could do would be to increase the age for all alcohol purchases to 21, the US fails in many ways, but their relationship with alcohol is considerably more mature than ours.

  6. English Viking says:


    Telling an alcoholic what he does and doesn’t know about alcoholism doesn’t really cut it.

  7. Ally says:

    Absolute bull crap English Viking, the people to ask are their families. Most alcoholics have little or no clear memory of exactly what happened during their long term binges, and tend to gloss over the real impact of their behaviour on their loved ones – false memory or an inability to confront the reality of the impact of their drinking; call it what you will.

    Straight back at you, don’t lecture the real victims…

  8. English Viking says:


    Playing the victim card to a fellow victim doesn’t work either. My mother is an alcoholic, my childhood, in fact my whole life in relation to her, is not pretty.

    Murder is banned. People still do it. It doesn’t matter what rules or regs are in place, an alcoholic will still drink themselves stupid, so why should all non-alcoholics be subjected to ridiculous levels of ‘security’, just to get a drink? The Gov use all these kind of emotive subjects to increase surveillance on the whole of society and to turn the people against each other, RE: You and I.

    Straight back at you…

  9. Jim Baxter says:

    Legal restrictions on Class A drugs don’t stop people getting hold of them. Restrictions on the availability of alcohol have a poor record.

  10. Ally says:

    English – and as to your original point, the one I disagreed with. Does your mother really understand the impact of what she has done, does she retain perfect recall? I think you inadvertently agreed with me, you cannot trust an alcoholic for an impact assessment, a fact which you seemed to contradict in your response to my original comment. As for a victim, I’m fine and my dad (now 69) has fared better than your Mum by the sounds of things, he’s sober 20 years now and would be the first to agree that he has little memory of, or understanding of his ‘problem’.

    I don’t think draconian controls will benefit anybody other than perhaps the few retailers who retain the right to sell alcohol, you can bet Tesco is one of them. I do think it would be worthwhile to consider a blanket increase of the legal age to 21 – just my opinion tho…

  11. English Viking says:


    I haven’t disagreed with you about whether an alcoholic has ‘perfect recall’ of all they have said and done on a binge, but they do know the consequences, i.e. The broken windows/furniture, the looming Court appearance, the pools of sick/urine, A and E knowing you on first name terms, the fall-outs with friends and family.

    My mother has not been sober since she was 25. She is 78. She knows what she has done.

    Increasing the age of purchase to 21 will make absolutely zero difference to problem drinking/drinkers. 12 year olds can obtain alcohol now, even though the age limit is currently 18.

    I am of the opinion that enforcing the current laws, instead of making new ones, will do just fine. Landlords and Off-Licenses are forbidden to sell alcohol to persons who are already intoxicated. They are forbidden to sell to the under 18’s. It is illegal to purchase alcohol on behalf of someone under the age of 18. If these rules were vigorously enforced nationwide, along with strict punishments for public drunkenness, we would see a dramatic reduction in abuse.

  12. Ally says:

    English – If you accept that alcohol is an increasing problem, something that there remains some doubt over, then it’s also clear that current laws are not cutting the mustard – are they? Absurd age verification is surely a manifestation of what you are calling for? “Vigorously enforced” as you put it.

  13. Stewart Cowan says:


    I am agreeing with you that the alcoholic will find the money. In my case I “borrowed” thousands of pounds from my family. That’s why increasing prices will make things worse for everyone, except for the retailers and taxmen.

    I believe our probs with alcohol cannot be legislated or priced away. Does this mean we are stuck with them? Who knows? Drink problems are synonymous with northern latitudes. Sun lamps on the NHS? No, there’s the skin cancer risk.

    Seriously though, maybe we should be addressing why we are so unhappy and ill at ease with ourselves in this country that we need to drink so much?

  14. English Viking says:


    The reason the current laws are not ‘cutting the mustard’ is because they are not enforced and public drunkenness is not properly punished. I don’t want ‘absurd’ age verification, where men with beards and a bald head are asked to prove that they are 18 or over, but I do want to see publicans and off-licenses lose their licenses if they break the law. I do want to see public drunkenness dealt with far more harshly by the Courts. It seems to me that being drunk whilst committing other crimes, like violence, is usually viewed by the Court as a mitigating factor, rather than an aggravating one.

    As I said, we do not need new laws, just enforce the old ones, and scrap the patently ridiculous 24hr drinking times.

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