Opposition parties at Holyrood have united against the combined might of the Scottish government, police, health officials and charities as arguments over the best way to tackle Scotland’s drink problem continued.
It has emerged that the leaders of the Labour, Tory, Liberal Democrat and Green parties have signed a letter to Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon calling for an alternative approach to the SNP’s minimum price policy.
The opposition group acknowledged the “huge challenged” posed by the nations long running alcohol problem and urged the SNP to ditch the minimum price plan and instead focus on the common ground.
Scotland has record levels of death from liver disease, children are regularly hospitalised after binge drinking and a recent report revealed that alcohol played a part in 14 murders in Strathclyde over the past 10 weeks.
The opposition group said: "It is clear that after the recent vote in the Scottish Parliament there is no majority for minimum unit pricing, but there is a responsibility on all of us to work together to find an alternative that is evidence-based, credible and legally competent.
However the group did admit that pricing had a role to play in tackling the problem and would reduce consumption and harm adding: "As a starting point, we also accept that raising the price of alcohol has a part to play in reducing consumption and therefore harm."
The Labour party have called for caffeine limits to be imposed on alcoholic products in order to address Scotland’s drink culture whilst the Conservatives have urged Holyrood to adopt tax measures from Westminster as a way of raising the price.
Yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon said she had already convened an all-party summit which helped shape policy, but would offer to meet opposition leaders.
She added: "I hope they will also accept the wide consensus amongst health professionals, the police and key parts of the industry that minimum pricing is the most targeted way of addressing price and reducing consumption and harm."