FOR Scotland’s political elites yesterday was the day that made it all worthwhile. Ever watchful for an opportunity to “do something” about the vile and beastly habits of the hoi-polloi May 1 was their ultimate triumph. This was the first day that alcoholic drinks in Scotland were required to carry a minimum charge of 50p per unit.

They claim that this measure, a world first, will re-calibrate Scotland’s ruinous relationship with booze. Indeed the Scottish Government’s precision (Jager) bombing insists that it will save almost 400 lives in the first year of implementation.

To mark such an important day in the cultural and social history of Scotland I would like to propose an annual memorial. Henceforth, the first day of May shall be known as Prohibition of Intoxicating Swally in Scotland (PISS) day. The day should be marked by a series of cultural activities the length and breadth of Scotland especially targeted at those communities which have been most disfigured by easy access to cheap booze.

In Coatbridge, a town which has become unfairly synonymous with Buckfast tonic wine, there could be an annual PISS Day parade on May 1. The old wreck the hoose juice is reported to be favoured by the feckless youth of the town’s edgier neighbourhoods. Perhaps the civic authorities could reach out to its alienated younger citizens by asking them to design special floats on a Buckie theme to signify that their days of imbibing this tawdry elixir are behind them.

Men and women who once lived in blanketed communities underneath bridges existing on an infernal diet of cheap bevvy could stage a fun-walk, like the annual Kilt Walk but minus the alcohol of course. Each PISS Day they would have inflatable mattresses on their backs to signify that golden moment when they took up their beds and walked away from the booze. Clean and well-behaved schoolchildren could plant nice daffodils and pansies in memorial gardens set up in those locations once popular with local jaikiedom.

At night there would be a special reception at Holyrood for those higher up the social ladder. This would include all the advisors and lobbying firms who filled their boots from the millions spent by the Scottish Government pushing its legislation through the courts and influencing broadcasters and newspapers. The champagne would be flowing at this occasion because, well … these types are highly skilled at covering up their alcoholic excesses and can usually afford lawyers and spin doctors to clean up the debris. As sparkling wines are one of a very few favoured tipples unaffected by the steep price rises it is entirely appropriate that the politicians and their advisors will be hitting the bubbly hard. Hic Hic Hooray…

Who knows where this will end and where the outcomes, indicators, analytics and research models will take us. Let’s not stop here while the winds of change are with us. Let’s have a minimum pricing policy on unhealthy food too. The minimum alcohol pricing strategy is also aimed at teenage children tanking up on cheap bevvy in their bedrooms prior to a night out so that the pound in their pocket would stretch to a larger quantum of liquor.

But what about those families, hard-pressed by low wages and huge mortgages who dread the thought of dinner at a nice restaurant with the neighbours? Faced with the prospect of paying eye-watering prices for dishes that include the words “jus”, “remoulade” and “mille-feuille”, many of them secretly binge on fish fingers and chicken goujons so that they can get away with just having the soup and skipping dessert at the restaurant.

It’s ruinous habits like these that lead to bad diets and heart attacks. So let’s crack down on cheap food from Iceland. I’d propose setting up a flying squad of healthy food enforcers to swoop on the usual neighbourhoods with the powers to conduct an audit of fridges and freezers.

Any families stockpiling on nasty processed meals and economy packs of cheap, frozen burgers will be given warnings prior to their children being taken into care. Online fast food enterprises such as Just Eat will be forbidden from selling munchie boxes for less than £30. They will be encouraged to sell “Vegi-boxes” with celery, artichokes, broccoli and sprouts. Each will come with a wee mint to reduce the prospect of Scotland becoming the halitosis capital of the UK.

Everyone knows how food banks have helped lots of poor people survive in the face of Tory welfare cuts but has anyone scrutinised the calorie and sugar count of the food parcels being offered in these places? I mean it’s all very well keeping a family of little ones from starvation but has anyone checked to ensure that they are getting plenty of brown bread and alfalfa juice?

I’d also be in favour of imposing a minimum pricing structure on selected items of leisure-wear. Lots of people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods are in the habit of over-relying on baggy tracksuit-style apparel to disguise those tell-tale signs of excess weight. By making these items much more expensive we could perhaps force them into wearing normal shirts and trousers where their weight issues are harder to conceal. Thus we could shame them into exercise programmes to make Scotland healthier and fitter.

On the other hand our political and media classes could cut out this sanctimonious and self-congratulatory bullshit about changing the lives of Scotland’s poorest and most disadvantaged communities. Unemployment and multi-deprivation caused by generations of endemic poverty are the scourges which reduce the lifespans of those who live in these places. Health inequality and the educational attainment gap are fuelled by decades of failure to deal with the fallout from de-industrialisation. In-work poverty and the predations of the energy cartel lead desperate men and women to find what little solace they can wherever they can.

An over-reliance on cheap booze and drugs are the mere symptoms of our wholesale failure to reduce poverty in areas which have suffered these for more than a century. It would be far more radical to treat the causes and not merely the effects.

One way or another Holyrood will ensure that their wretched numbers add up to 400 lives saved by minimum alcohol pricing. In the meantime more than 200,000 Scottish children are living in poverty; the same as last year and the year before that.

Minimum pricing won’t stop many of them taking refuge in alcohol when they too come to discover that they are on the wrong side of the poverty divide. It’ll just force them to restrict their already few choices in other parts of their life in order to afford it.