Our sozzled land

“I can never see the smug, lipless face and carefully cultivated blond tresses of the Work and Pensions Secretary, James Purnell — let alone read his name in print — without wanting to bodily remove him from the greasy pole he’s so intent on shinning up. There seems little the man will say that isn’t for the express reason of furthering his career.

“Take alcohol, for example. It’s not that Purnell displays any more liking for intoxication — legal or otherwise — than the rest of his Westminster colleagues, it’s simply that Purnell and booze go hand-in-hand, cavorting across the grey fields of contemporary public-health policy.

“It was Purnell who introduced 24-hour drinking to our sozzled land, and by golly, he’s not about to let go of the idea that it’s a — ‘hic’ — good thing. This alone explains why he has been first among the equally tipsy Labour ministers who’ve lurched to criticise Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, for daring to suggest that there should be minimum unit pricing for alcohol in Britain.”

Read the rest of Will Self’s First Post column here.