A holy war has erupted over Buckfast, the controversial fortified wine, after the moderator of the Church of Scotland [sic] defended the brand against criticism from the Scottish Labour party.
A string of Labour MSPs, including Dr Richard Simpson, the party’s health spokesman, have blamed the drink, brewed by monks in Somerset, for fuelling social problems in parts of west Scotland. Buckfast’s high caffeine content can make consumers anxious and aggressive, critics claim.
Lorna Hood, moderator of the kirk’s general assembly, has intervened, arguing that abuse of Buckfast is a “symptom, rather than a cause of, social problems”.
Following a challenge by Elaine Smith, the Labour MSP for Coatbridge, for David Charlesworth, the abbot of Buckfast Abbey, to visit her constituency to witness the effects of the drink, Hood said blaming the abbot “helps nobody”.
Hood added: “The debate should not be about the harm caused by one particular type of drink; instead it must be about what drives people to the point where the only escape is to drink to excess, and to react against the society which has largely turned its back on them.
“The abuse of Buckfast is a symptom rather than a cause of social problems. It is the social problems that we need to tackle, and to lay blame at the door of the abbot helps nobody.”
Hood pointed out the kirk has supported the introduction of a minimum price of alcohol, adding: “Political and community leaders should be focused on what is missing from the lives of vulnerable people: decent housing, good opportunities, a chance to thrive. Instead of seeing ‘trouble-makers’ as neighbours from hell, we should be thinking about neighbours in need.”
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• Buckfast Tonic Wine is made by the Roman Catholic Community of Benedictine monks at Buckfast Abbey in Devon, and distributed by J. Chandler & Co (Buckfast) Ltd of Andover. Mention of the wine was removed from the Abbey’s website at some point after July 2011.