UNIVERSITY OF Edinburgh students and opposition MSPs successfully put a halt to the Scottish Nationalist Party’s (SNP) plans to increase the legal drinking age by joining forces outside the Scottish Parliament last Thursday.
The protest saw a collection of young people and MSPs gathering to display their opposition to the stigmatisation of young people through speeches against the proposals and by chanting “citizen, not criminal”.
The SNP launched their radical approach to tackling alcohol misuse and alcohol-related crime by getting tough on the 18-21 year olds who they believe to be at the cause of the problem. The SNP’s Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill supported the policy stating that “we can no longer sit back and let alcohol misuse continue to take its shocking toll on our criminal justice system, health service and economy.” According to the SNP website alcohol misuse costs Scotland’s tax payers £2.25 billion a year.
This extremist policy united students, young people and MSP’s in opposition to the SNP. Mike Pringle, Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh South, said “These proposals are a reactionary and misguided move by the SNP Government, designed to appear tough rather than solve the problem.”
He continues “surely Scotland should not become a place where at age 18 you can bravely fight for your country, or vote in an election, but are not trusted to buy a bottle of wine to enjoy with friends over an evening meal or a couple of beers to watch the match with?” It seems that most politicians agreed with Pringle’s stance as 72 MSPs voted against the motion on Thursday evening, defeating the SNP’s proposals with a majority of 72 to 47 votes.
Tom French, former University of Edinburgh student and co-ordinator of the Coalition Against Raising the Drinking Age in Scotland (CARDAS), submitted a 10,000 signature petition against the policy and led the protest at the Scottish Parliament. He labelled the SNP’s proposals as ‘daft and discriminatory’ and said the proposal is “a gimmick to make the SNP appear tough on crime and order.”
French thanked everyone who participated in the CARDAS campaign after the results from the debate were announced, stating on a Facebook message that “We’ve won an overwhelming victory and it is down to each and everyone of you. Thank you.”