Friday, 7 September 2018

The big alcohol conspiracy theory

If I could affect one reform to our education system, it would be economics should become a mandatory subject in the National Curriculum. Two reasons – economics is by its very nature a libertarian subject, and, secondly, it would save me lots of time untangling misunderstandings that would never occur in the first place if people who ought to know better had replaced their ignorance of economics with some basic knowledge of it.

A recent study from the University of Sheffield alcohol research team and the Institute of Alcohol Studies is a case in point. This study purported to show the alcohol industry was economically dependent on heavy, harmful, dependent drinking. The study claims the heaviest drinking 4% of the population is responsible for 30% of all consumption and 23% of all industry revenue. The numbers break down as follows – those drinking above guideline levels are estimated to account for 68% of total alcohol sales revenue in 2013/14; 81% of offtrade revenue and 60% of ontrade revenue. This represents 77% of beer, 70% of cider, 66% of wine and 50% of spirits sales value.

If all consumers reduced their consumption to within guideline levels – 14 units a week – alcohol sales revenue would plummet from £35bn a year (2014 figures) to £22bn – a decline of 38%. To mitigate this loss, the authors say the alcohol industry would need to raise prices substantially, for example by £2.64 for a pint of on-trade beer or £12.25 for a 70cl bottle of off-trade spirits.

The sub-text of this is the industry’s claim to be in favour of moderate consumption is insincere because it’s so highly dependent on excessive consumption. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate if consumers drank “moderately”, defined as no more than 14 units a week, they would be faced with unrealistically high prices if the industry was to maintain its profits at the current level. So, the researchers calculate how much the industry would lose from people drinking less and then work out how much prices would need to rise for profits not to fall.

Here’s where their basic ignorance of economics kicks-in. They don’t look at profits or even at turnover. Instead they assume consumer spending equals industry income and then slice off 38% because this is what they estimate sales would fall by if everyone suddenly drank no more than 14 units a week. The howler that’s being committed here is £35bn is not the industry’s money. More than £10bn of it goes to the Treasury in alcohol duty and other taxes, and billions more go to off-sales retailers and to pubs, clubs and restaurants. And what is left, about £10bn, is not all profit. Most industries make a net margin of between 7% and 10% and so the loss to the alcohol industry’s profits would be only a fraction of what these researchers claim. And this is before we calculate the cost savings to the alcohol industry that would result from producing less product.

So does the alcohol industry stand to lose if heavy drinkers all became moderate drinkers? Insofar as heavy drinking is associated with early death, and moderate drinking with extended longevity, the answer is no. If people drinking 50 units or more a week (harmful drinkers) all became light drinkers consuming 14 units a week they would all live longer. The alcohol industry would get the same revenue from them but over a longer period. Since it is unlikely this state of affairs would happen overnight – that any move towards drinking less, but drinking higher quality products would be an evolution – it’s clear the alcohol industry has no conceivable economic interest in the premature death of its customers.

There is therefore no conflict of interest between the industry’s support for moderate consumption and industry profits. Indeed, brand owners do not want their brand values undermined by irresponsible use of their products.


A total of 21% of UK adults are teetotal while a further 58% drink at or below the low risk guideline of 14 units a week. That’s 79% of people who are at no risk, or next to no risk, from alcohol. The remaining 21% drink at or above 14 units, but only 4% above 50 units a week. The alcohol industry cannot possibly determine the distribution of its products between different consumer demographics – that is a consequence of millions of buying decisions made by consumers on a daily basis. What is equally clear is the industry has nothing to fear from its customers drinking moderately and living longer. Only temperance lobby researchers without even a basic understanding of economics seek to define the alcohol industry as a conspiracy against the public interest.

Friday, 10 August 2018

IF IT’S NOT IN THE MODEL – IT WON’T HAPPEN!

It has just been announced that the Welsh Assembly Bill to introduce minimum unit pricing (MUP) in Wales has been given Royal Assent. Predictably, the usual suspects – Alcohol Concern, Alcohol Focus Scotland and the Institute of Alcohol Studies are all crowing about this and calling for its immediate introduction in England. So, the Welsh Assembly government clearly aren’t interested in seeing how MUP works out in Scotland first – so much for “evidence-based policy”.

But there never was any real-world evidence for MUP, its supporters rely entirely on the discredited speculative numerology of the Sheffield Alcohol Pricing Model (SAPM). This purports to show how a minimum unit price at different levels will reduce consumption, and the benefits in terms of reduced alcohol-related harms of all kinds will cascade down in a sort of hierarchy.

But there were two things that SAPM neglected to model and that economists have identified as likely unintended consequences of this kind of government price intervention. One is market displacement; the other product substitution. Let me explain: market displacement is what happens when consumers wake up one morning and find a popular product has suddenly rocketed in price and they can no longer afford it. Consumers vote with their feet and seek a similar product in the black market.

This happened in Russia in 2010 when the government imposed a minimum price of 220 roubles for a half litre bottle of vodka. Consumption was displaced into the black market where people bought cheap and dangerous moonshine. In response, the Russian Government was forced to reduce the minimum price to 185 roubles in 2012 – approximately the price it was sold at before the government intervened. Consumer responses to government regulation completely neutered the minimum price policy. Will consumers do this in Scotland and Wales? Too early to tell, but anecdotally we know that Tesco’s car park in Carlisle is full of cars and vans with Scottish number plates! Some of these will no doubt rock-up on council estates in Glasgow and flog cheap English booze to price-conscious Scots.

But what of product substitution? Remember all those stories about cheap white cider being sold to vulnerable street drinkers and alcoholics with chaotic lives? MUP will solve all that by pricing these products out of reach of the poor. So, in Scotland a 3 litre bottle of Frosty Jack’s white cider made from apple concentrate and with an ABV of 7.5% was selling for £4.25 before MUP. OMG! Pocket money prices; alcohol cheaper than water – something must be done. Well, now it has been. A 3 litre bottle of Frosty Jack’s in Scotland now costs £11.25 – thanks to MUP - and sales have fallen off a cliff. So, problem solved then? Not quite.

If you’re the kind of drinker who necks a 3 litre bottle of strong white cider in one session it’s safe to say you’re not a cider connoisseur. To be blunt, you do it to get off your head – blotto! These people haven’t gone away; they haven’t all signed the pledge. They still want to get blotto but their tipple of choice is now priced out of reach. So, might they seek a substitute product? What else can get you off your head for the night? Well, a gram of the synthetic cannabinoid known as ‘Spice’ sells for just £6. A bag of heroin off the streets of Glasgow can be bought for as little as £8. If you want to understand the effects of Spice on the homeless, visit Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester and see for yourself. And deaths from heroin and other opioids are now at a record high.

So, what happens next? Answers on a postcard please. I simply ask: in what rational universe would we contrive for a bag of heroin to be nearly 30% cheaper and a gram of spice 46% cheaper than a 3 litre bottle of cider? Victory for public health! Vindication of the policy of minimum unit pricing!


Ah, but you see, these things weren’t in the Sheffield model – so can’t possibly happen – it’s been peer-reviewed you know! And the academics are quietly confident this will all work. This is what can happen when politicians who don’t understand how markets work throw a price regulation into the middle of a free market, and it enters culture. The unintended consequences kick-in. This is what can happen when activist academics, living in ivory towers, persuade dumb politicians that if only they can control the price mechanism they’ll be able to socially engineer the sober society and we’ll all live happier, healthier lives. Meanwhile, back in the real world, I just don’t think it’s that simple.

Friday, 27 July 2018

HEALTH SCARE OR HEALTH RISK – IT’S ALL IN THE PRESENTATION

Scarcely a week goes by without a headline-grabbing story about risks to our health that are associated with the enjoyment of food and drink we all thought was perfectly safe. And tabloid editor’s love these stories because anything that feeds public alarm sells papers. Usually the stories are based on epidemiology, which studies the incidence of disease in populations and the risk factors that correlate with them.

An example is a World Health Organisation report that classified processed meat such as bacon and sausages as carcinogens because the cooking process causes the production of acrylamide, which in large doses has been shown to cause cancer in mice. The tabloid headlines included “A bacon sandwich a day causes cancer”; “A bacon sandwich a day ‘increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 16%’ - experts say.”

A survey showed that nearly 50% of people in all age groups were aware of this conclusion and around a third of people said they were trying to cut down on consumption. And this was reflected in sales figures. In the four weeks after the publication of the WHO’s report and the headlines accompanying it, sales of packs of bacon in the UK fell by 8.5%, and this appears to have been a stepped change that hasn’t reversed itself. So, were the headlines justified, and what sense should we make of this and similar stories?

One of the most erudite commentators on how supposed risks are communicated to the public is Sir David Spiegelhalter, Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge. He’s written extensively on how to spot the difference between a health risk and a health scare. He suggests that to understand the true scale of a risk, put it into the context of how the supposed risky behaviour would impact on a hundred people.

The bacon sandwich scare is a case in point. Spiegelhalter says that if a hundred people never eat a bacon sandwich, or otherwise consume bacon, ever, then nevertheless, six of them will develop colorectal cancer at some point in their lives. In the alternative, if a hundred people eat a bacon sandwich every day of their adult lives then seven of them will develop colorectal cancer. So, consider the logistics here: a hundred people, each eating a bacon sandwich a day, 365 days a year for, say 50 years, equates to the consumption of 1,825,000 bacon sandwiches! And this is the level of consumption needed to for one extra person in this group of a hundred to develop colorectal cancer. This is a health scare, not a real-world health risk.

For the alcophobes’ of public health, the lesson of this scare and the impact it had on sales of bacon, has not been lost. They recognise that attaching the words ‘cancer risk’ to the consumption of alcohol is a powerful means of scaring people into believing that big risks are involved even in relation to moderate consumption. In relation to breast cancer, which is what drives public health claims that “there is no safe level of drinking”, the lifetime risk of a female ‘never drinker’ developing breast cancer is just under 10%. For women who regularly drink moderate amounts of alcohol it elevates to just over 11%.

In round figures, if a hundred women never drink alcohol in the entire lives, nevertheless 10 of them will develop breast cancer at some point. In the alternative, if a hundred women drink two glasses of wine a day, then 11 of them will develop breast cancer at some point.  So, consider the logistics: if a hundred women each drink two 125ml glasses of wine a day, totalling three units of alcohol, every day for 50 years then that is 5,475,000 units of alcohol – which equates 608,333 75cl bottles of wine with an ABV of 12%! And this is the level of consumption needed for one extra person in this group to develop breast cancer. This is a health scare, not a real-world health risk.

The other thing that temperance lobby alcophobes’ understand is that in the public imagination cancer is always fatal. But 90% of breast cancer is not fatal and meta-analysis shows no link between moderate consumption of alcohol and breast cancer mortality, nor its recurrence (Gou et al 2013). A large study which followed up women with breast cancer correlated with better chances of survival if they were regular drinkers before diagnosis.  If they altered their drinking after diagnosis this had no link to their chance of dying from breast cancer, but an increase in drinking was associated with an overall increase in life expectancy, largely due to substantially fewer heart disease deaths among those who increased their alcohol consumption (Newcomb et al 2013).


So, much more needs to be done to promote public understanding of risk, otherwise the food and drink industry will continue to be subject to misleading scare stories from lazy journalists who fail to challenge the sensationalist claims of nanny-state health scolds.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Will cannabis kite go up in smoke?

The issue of legalising cannabis has been in the news in recent weeks. It began with the heart-rending story of a small boy having up to 50 epileptic seizures a day and his mother’s wish for him to receive medicinal cannabis oil which relieved his symptoms. The Home Secretary obliged with a temporary licence but made it clear there were no intentions to legalise cannabis for recreational use.


The only mainstream political party in the UK that supports the creation of a legal, licensed market for recreational cannabis is the Liberal Democrats. However, pressure for change is increasing, with Canada and nine US states legalising cannabis for “medicinal purposes” or full legalisation. Can change in the UK be far behind?

What are the arguments? Research indicates about three million UK adults regularly smoke cannabis – 7% of the adult population. The reputation of cannabis as a “soft drug” has become tarnished in recent years because the nature of cannabis itself has changed. Let me explain. Cannabis contains two chemical compounds – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) – and it’s the THC that gets you stoned! But THC can also cause mental health problems in a small but significant number of users – particularly people with a history of mental illness. High doses of THC can cause psychotic episodes and paranoia. CBD, on the other hand, acts as a natural anti-psychotic medication and mitigates the chances of the mental health problems that can arise from THC use.

“Traditional cannabis” contained a balanced mix of THC and CBD but in the first decade of this century it was pushed out of the black market by sinsemilla – “skunk” – which has a high level of THC and very little CBD. Mental health referrals began to climb. Between 2006 and 2014 it is estimated the use of skunk declined 25% but THC-induced mental health referrals rose 50%. Skunk is a product of cannabis prohibition because it can be grown indoors using hydroponic equipment and doesn’t need to be smuggled-in across borders.

Those advocating legalisation argue we’ve failed to suppress the mass market for cannabis and a licensed, legal market would be a better way of managing use and reducing harm. However, this is not a simple or one-sided argument. If legalisation is to deliver better outcomes and eliminate the black market for skunk, the government would have to get the licensing model right.

How might this work? First, government would have to mandate a maximum level of THC (say 15%) and a minimum level of CBD to create a safer product. But the new, legal, “safer” cannabis would also have to be cheaper than black market skunk. There’s plenty of margin to play with as a gram of skunk currently sells for about £10 so there is a margin for producers, retailers and government, which would introduce a cannabis duty and levy VAT. It would also be necessary to ensure the product was easily available at chemists, off-licences and a network of cannabis cafes.

But let’s take a step back. If we enable a new, fully legal industry of intoxication and make cannabis safer to use, cheaper to buy and even easier to get hold of, what would happen to the level of demand? Again, research indicates a 10% reduction in price would trigger a 7% increase in consumption – at a time when it is falling. But it would be increased consumption of a safer product. Police time would be saved and government would gain perhaps £1bn a year in tax revenues.

Here’s where it gets complicated. THC-induced mental health problems didn’t start with skunk – they just got worse. So if consumption of legal cannabis remained the same, the incidence of mental health referrals would fall. If consumption significantly increased, the incidence of mental health referrals would still fall but the absolute number might rise.

You can see why this is a difficult issue for politicians. On the face of it, if we accept we can’t suppress a mass market in an open society and a failed policy of prohibition just lines the pockets of criminals, licensing sales of a quality-controlled product where we can control strength and ingredients and deliver a revenue stream for government seems a win-win situation. But think how the Daily Mail would spin this. Who would grow and produce cannabis products? The tobacco industry is best placed to do so. And who would retail them – bar or coffee chains? You can imagine the narrative of those opposed to change – Big Tobacco and Big Alcohol are behind this.


My own view is that, on balance, a licensing system offers a better chance of public protection and harm reduction than the status quo. But politically, I just don’t think this kite will fly in the UK.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Moving the goalposts

I am always intrigued to hear “public health” labelling any research paid for by the alcohol industry as “tainted by commercial interests”. What kind of naivety is it that causes people to believe money is the only source of corruption? Do these people think there’s an endless supply of benevolent millionaires willing to fund research into issues they have no opinion on? The fact is, funding has to come from somewhere and research should be judged on its own merits, regardless of who funds it. 

So it is regrettable, in my opinion, that a large-scale research project in the US into the health outcomes of moderate drinking has been abandoned because Big Alcohol was jointly funding this research along with a large dollop of public money. And who was objecting? The usual suspects – so-called “public health” bodies and taxpayer-funded temperance charities whose ideological bias taints their thinking and just about every piece of research they’ve ever produced. Is it a coincidence the voluminous research funded by the Institute of Alcohol Studies, for example, has failed to produce a single piece of work, ever, with anything positive to say about beverage alcohol? Yet this organisation regularly receives money from the World Health Organisation and the UN to fund its “scientific research”.

What methods do the Big Public Health ideologues use to pursue their objectives and skew research and public debate? Moving the goalposts is the preferred method of choice and there are numerous examples. In June 1998, 25 million Americans suddenly became overweight. Previously the official threshold for being overweight was a body mass index (BMI) of 27. Your average American at this time had a BMI of 26. On 17 July 1998, the government lowered the BMI threshold to 25 and almost one in ten adults in the US became part of a new obesity “epidemic” overnight. Subsequent research has proved a BMI of 27 is optimal for health, while so-called overweight people, as opposed to obese people, actually live longer than those of a supposed healthy weight. 

Then there is the drive to reduce sugar consumption. It’s all about “saving the children”. Children are currently consuming twice their daily recommended limit of five grams of sugar. However, three years ago the guideline was halved from ten grams to five and all of a sudden this moving of the goalposts doubled the number of kids at risk! But at risk of what? Five grams of sugar is roughly 100 calories. The recommended guideline for calorie consumption for a growing 11-year-old is 2,000 calories a day. Does it really matter whether 100 or 200 of those calories come from sugar as opposed to some other source?

In 2014, new drug Selincro was approved in the UK for treatment of “mild alcoholism”, a previously unknown medical condition that used to be called “moderate drinking”. Subsequent research has proved this drug to have no medical efficacy whatsoever when compared with the results of blind trials involving placebos. 

In the examples I have given above, if you want to find a “baddie” look no further than the pharmaceutical industry, which vigorously promotes diet pills and treatments for newly invented illnesses.

My favourite, of course, has to be the scientifically unjustified lowering of the low-risk alcohol guidelines in January 2016. This created hundreds of thousands of hazardous drinkers overnight and provided new impetus for the temperance lobby and its sock-puppet charities such as Alcohol Concern and Alcohol Focus Scotland – just when alcohol consumption, binge-drinking and under-age drinking were all declining and the percentage of teetotallers was growing – particularly among the young.

Does money corrupt research and policy-making? Not nearly as much as ideological bias

Thursday, 10 May 2018

THE HAMMERS ARE OUT

The 1st May 2018 was an historic day, we’re told. This was the date that minimum unit pricing (MUP) of alcohol came into force in Scotland. The SNP government spent the day congratulating itself for ensuring that Scotland was the first country in the world to introduce MUP, despite having spent years telling us that Canada had already introduced it, and its success there was part of the “evidence base” used to justify its introduction in Scotland. The other part of the “evidence” was the speculative numerology provided by the now-infamous Sheffield University alcohol pricing model.

That numerology produced some very specific predictions about what MUP at 50p per unit would achieve in Scotland. In the first year alone, it is supposed to achieve the following results:

·        60 fewer alcohol-related deaths
·        1300 fewer alcohol-related hospital admissions
·        3500 fewer alcohol-related crimes
·        A reduction of 3.5% in alcohol consumption per head
·        A reduction of 7% per head for “harmful drinkers”

So, 354 days to go and counting…

How will the achievement of these outcomes be measured? NHS Scotland is charged with overseeing this evaluation, but the anti-alcohol zealots from Sheffield and Stirling Universities will conduct much of the research. The academic reputation of the Sheffield University group depends on the real-world outcomes of MUP in Scotland vindicating the years of research and lobbying effort they’ve put in to this. The alcohol research departments at these universities have been lobbying for MUP since 2009, so I expect this to be little more than an exercise in the kids marking their own homework.

And hard on the heels of MUP in Scotland comes the announcement that the UK government will produce a new alcohol strategy, and they have commissioned Public Health England (PHE) to evaluate minimum pricing. PHE is little more than a four billion pound a year lobbying group which, since its inception in 2013, has been campaigning for MUP. If Big Alcohol produced research casting doubt on MUP it would immediately be called-out as a conflict of interest. But Big Temperance? They just get away with it.

What is heart-warming to see are the beginnings of the Scottish consumers’ revolt over MUP. Twitter is awash with images of Scottish consumers visiting supermarkets in Carlisle and Berwick on Tweed to buy slabs of beer not subject to minimum pricing. And online sales despatched from England are booming too – Amazon is reportedly doing a roaring trade! These sales appear to be for personal consumption, but how long will it be before White Van Man realises there’s a tidy profit to be made from giving Scottish consumers what their own government denies them?

There are elements of the on-trade in Scotland who think that the health lobby must be thrown some red meat, and if MUP appeases them that’s a price worth paying. But bullies always come back for more. Already health campaigners are calling for a ban on off-licence sales after 8 p.m., separate aisles for alcohol sales in supermarkets, banning new pubs and bars from opening in “stress areas” and the introduction of a Social Responsibility Levy to fund alcohol services. This levy is a tax that would be paid by all sections of the trade, not just supermarkets. Please remember the end-game here, which is to de-normalise alcohol use, reduce sales and availability from all sections of the trade, and achieve prohibition by stealth. It is not about tipping people out of the living room and into the tap room; it is most emphatically not about “helping pubs”.


When you look at the escalation of demands from the health lobby in Scotland just in the past week since the introduction of MUP, it’s clear that whether it works or not is almost beside the point. Minimum pricing is the thin end of the wedge, and now the hammers are out.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

THE DEAD LICENSEES’ FUND

I support the recent call from Tim Page, chief executive of CAMRA, for industry trade bodies to do more to combat the tide of anti-alcohol propaganda from so-called “public health”. This often takes the form of research undertaken or funded by anti-alcohol charities, but how are these charities themselves funded?

In England the two main neo-prohibitionist charities are Alcohol Research UK (ARUK) and Alcohol Concern (AC). These two announced a merger in December 2016, and the shiny, new organisation that will combine supposedly objective alcohol research from ARUK with the anti-alcohol campaigning of AC will launch later this year. So, why is this merger happening?

AC lost funding from the UK government after it withdrew from the government’s voluntary alcohol responsibility deal in 2012. Since then they’ve survived on handouts from the Welsh Assembly government and the National Lottery fund, plus some money from big pharmaceutical companies that produce “treatments” for alcoholism, like Selincro. This wasn’t enough to sustain them, so a merger with ARUK, which has very similar charitable aims, provided a solution.

So, how is ARUK funded? ARUK’s research is paid for by the money earned from an investment fund that is managed for them by an asset management company called Investec. The investment fund was established in 1981 through the Licensing (Alcohol Education and Research) Act, following the winding up of the ‘Licensing Compensation Scheme’. This Scheme was effectively a tax levied on licensed premises that was established under the 1904 Licensing Act to provide compensation for the owners of licensed premises that were closed through no fault of their own, but where it was deemed that the density of licensed premises in an area was too high.

The Scheme was not popular. Temperance campaigners at the time called it “the Licensees’ Benevolent Fund” but the trade dubbed it “the Licensees’ Burial Fund.” It didn’t take long for the Scheme to fall into abeyance, but it was not until the 1981 Act that half of the residual funds were transferred to establish the Alcohol Education and Research Council.  In 2011, the AERC was wound up and the investment fund was transferred to a new charity, Alcohol Research UK - ARUK.

On their website ARUK say they “will not accept funds, in cash or in kind, from the alcohol industry.” But: “Alcohol Research UK may accept donations from people who were formerly but are no longer employed in the industry and do not have a significant residual financial stake in it (e.g. through shareholdings).”

In practice this means ARUK won’t accept money from companies or people involved in the alcohol industry unless they’re dead! Living off a “Dead Licensees’ Fund” is leeching of the first order. Now they’re joining forces with the preachers of AC. This union of Leechy and Preachy is a marriage of financial convenience between the closet prohibitionists of ARUK and Poundland prohibitionists of AC and it may yet turn out to be an uneasy alliance. I think government should act to take back ARUK’s funding from the compensation scheme and give it to the Licensed Trade Charity, which helps people who have retired from the licensed trade and have personal or family problems.

And talking of preachiness provides an ideal segway to Alcohol Focus Scotland (AFS), Scotland’s alcohol charity. This organisation exemplifies the kind of batshit-mental extreme anti-alcohol zealotry that arises when campaigning and research are glued together by the swivel-eyed moral certainty of true believers.

Having championed minimum unit pricing in Scotland on the basis that it will be “good for pubs”, they are now calling for pubs to be closed, or not opened in the first place. AFS funded research, published this week, that made fatuous correlations between the density of licensed premises and crime rates. It found that in areas with the most pubs, clubs and off-licences crime rates were four times higher and alcohol hospitalisation rates and deaths twice as high as in areas with a low density of premises. It would probably turn out that there was a similar correlation between high crime rates and the density of street lighting, since the high density of anything except sheep is more likely in urban areas, but don’t let that stand in the way of a good headline!  “Alcohol availability boosts crime rate” said the BBC news website.

Pause, sigh, breathe: we’ve been here before – this is a variant on the “availability drives consumption” argument that is constantly pushed by AFS, AC and ARUK. As the IEA’s director of lifestyle economics, Chris Snowdon, put it: “Suppliers respond to demand. If the ‘public health’ lobby could get this simple fact into their skulls they would be halfway towards understanding how the world works, and three-quarters of the way towards understanding that commercial activity is not a conspiracy against the public.”  


And who funds AFS? Yes, it’s the SNP government – to the tune of £500,000 a year of Scottish taxpayers’ money. These faux charities can’t get sufficient voluntary donations, so whether its live taxpayers or dead ones, we don’t really get a choice, do we?