On the morning of 28th November the Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced that the government is planning to implement a 45p minimum unit price for alcohol. This would be an increase from the current 40p, with the aim of promoting responsible drinking. Between 11am and 4pm on the 28th November we captured 1,567 tweets on our ECHOlistening tool using keywords and hashtags related to the story. By manually analyzing them we’re able to discern both the general sentiment of twitter users and what drives their opinions.
The chatter was largely dominated by reporting of the story by news channels, newspapers and twitter users, counting for 42% of the tweets analyzed.
Nevertheless, the total negative response came a close second, with 40% of tweets expressing their dislike of minimum unit pricing. We have examined a random sample of the negative responses to get a sense of the general public’s response to the issue. Broadly the tweets can be categorized into 4 ‘negative buckets’:
Negative – Won’t Affect Demand (18%):
Minimum pricing would not change demand because people would pay the higher price, thus the anti-social consequences of drinking would similarly remain unchanged.
Negative – General (12%):
Negative – Nanny State (6%):
Tweets complain that setting a minimum price is illiberal and indicative of a nanny state
Negative – Punishes Responsible Drinkers (5%):
An increase in price punishes not only the irresponsible drinkers targeted by the government policy, but also unnecessarily punishes those who are responsible drinkers.
Positive tweets occupied only 8% of the chatter, even less than the obligatory jokes that such an announcement engenders. The positivity focused upon how setting a minimum price is a step in the right direction, and will save lives: