MP Complains about subsidised boozing! – in the Army

British troops released from a German prison camp 1944 drinking English beer for the first time in four years WW2

A UK defence minister Anna Soubry was so upset that troops are only charged £1 for a triple gin and tonic that she’s out to ban drinking in the Armed Forces. She’d ordered the drink while on a visit to the Falklands.

She believes that troops should not be able to buy G&T so cheaply. She is to order the Army to end its booze culture.

The Falklands are notorious for alcohol consumption. Although Anna Soubry supported the legalisation of cannabis in 2006, it’s not thought that despite ordering triples, she took part in binge-drinking sessions while down there on official business.

Anna Soubry is however a Member of Parliament, where aided by the catering subsidy of £5m from taxpayers, MPs drink £1.4m of alcohol every year. Brawling and sexual assault are common in the Palace of Westminster’s eight cut-price bars.

It’s not so much what Anna Soubry says about the effects of alcohol and the dangers of binge drinking in the Army. She is very obviously correct.

But being a person with zero military experience makes her sound rather stupidly superior. It also smacks of hypocrisy, and seems to me a touch reminiscent of ex prime minister John Major’s feeling able to launch a family morality campaign despite having sex with one of his female ministers.

There’s rather a lot about Army culture that’s unacceptable. Killing people heads the list. It could perhaps be that killing people and alcohol misuse are connected.

Soubry’s knee-jerk condemnation might attract favourable headlines among voters in her marginal constituency Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire. But it won’t help soldiers. Instead, the minister could have lent quiet support to the people within the Army who are trying to address this very serious problem.

Research work is needed to determine the reasons for this unacceptable use of alcohol in a highly selective, disciplined and regulated organisation. After her outburst, Soubry will not be able to make this happen.

In any case, the results (if the MoD and Army made it possible to do this research work) would not make easy reading for Minister Soubry.

Alcohol misuse is always a symptom of other more serious problems. Within the Army we know what these problems are, and some of us are trying to address them. As they say in the corridors of power, Minister Soubry “is not being terribly helpful”.

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