AS we approach Christmas, spare a thought for the anti-booze health zealots. As we find joy in the thought of the drunken work night-out and stock up on drink to help the season to be jolly, they must be spinning in their puritanical pods wondering what message they can send out this year to make our lives that little bit more miserable.

On the presumption that we’re all borderline alcoholics or prone to mass violence at the sniff of a wee dram, happy hours have been banned in Scotland for a decade. Based on the same patronising presumption, last year the minimum price of alcohol was increased – an increase that would affect the poorer drinker but not so much the wealthy. As George Orwell once said, “We’re all dodgy drinkers but some are more dodgy than others”, or words to that effect.

Our paternalistic politicians are assisted by their “Sock Puppet” anti-drink charities, like Alcohol Focus Scotland, that, despite their funding from the state, masquerade as independent bodies concerned about the demon drink.

They consult their in-house “experts”, who just happen to be fanatical temperance campaigners and who describe consumers (that’s you) of being “slaves” to the “grooming” of alcohol advertisers.

And hey presto, a new policy, based on “public consultation” is once again magically produced that somehow seems to have nothing to do with the public and everything to do with the new snobs drifting in and out of Holyrood who think it is their job to determine how we live our lives.

At least UK temperance movements of the past, like the first of its kind, the Seven Men of Preston set up in 1832, were grounded in communities and community experiences of alcoholism. They were not simply finger wagging elitist organisations but often stemmed from working class concerns about the brutalising effects of industrialisation and the spin off of excessive drinking and impoverishment.

Perhaps most importantly, these old community organisations were not run by state sponsored aloof “experts” but by neighbours and genuine charities, and they were all about self-control. Drink undermines your capacity to be independent and to be truly responsible for yourself and your family, they argued.

In comparison, today’s message of temperance comes from the top down and fails to reach the parts other temperance movements once reached. We barely notice their facts and figures and labels on bottles and rightly raise a disbelieving brow at the made up (moralising) “units of alcohol” we are supposed to consume.

Worse still, these infantilising new snobs of public policy treat us like lab rats, rather than as responsible grown-ups, nudging us like groomed children rather than understanding that we are adults who sometimes have great fun at Christmas “abusing” alcohol.