Bishop criticises bingeing middle class

18 June 2009

by Pat Ashworth

THE Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd John Gladwin, has castigated the middle classes for drink­ing to excess at home. Grow­ing prosperity was behind the rise in alcoholism, he said.


The Bishop was returning to a theme he voiced earlier this year in a House of Lords debate on alcohol consumption among those aged 15 and 16. On that occasion, he asked Baroness Thornton, a Labour min­ister: “Will she accept also that we could help young people by having a slightly more disciplined approach to alcohol in the adult community?”



His remarks to The Sunday Tele­graph at the weekend were prompted by an NHS survey, Statistics on Alcohol: England 2009, published last month. It found that those in managerial and profes­sional households were more likely to drink more frequently than those classified as in routine and manual households.



The number of people drinking more than 6-8 units on at least one day rose in proportion to weekly income. Twenty-eight per cent of adults who earn more than £1000 a week drank that amount, compared with 11 per cent of those earning up to £200 a week. In the higher profes­sional category, 24 per cent of adults drank on more than five days a week.



Poorer people lacked the protec­tion of jobs and homes, Bishop Gladwin suggested. “So when young people do go out clubbing, it’s all very public; whereas for older people, you can collapse at home at the weekend and have levels of alco­hol consumption that are just as bad.”



Bishop Gladwin has consistently challenged the middle classes on issues of morality. Last year, he called for an end to what he called “binge-banking”, taking banks to task for running too many risks.



“It is surely time for all of us to challenge this nightmare culture, where people are encouraged to think that they can have what they want, be it the binge-drinking culture of our towns and cities, or the binge-banking culture.”



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