The Prime Minister may be surprised by a recent report from a West Midlands historian, that ‘binge drinking’ is not exactly a new phenomenon. While Tony Blair announced recently that binge drinking risks becoming the ‘new British Disease’, historian Angela McShane-Jones points out that the practice actually began in the 1660s. McShane-Jones’ examination of 17th century broadside ballads – the equivalent of today’s pop music – pamphlets and court records, revealed that drink and drunkenness went hand in hand with political allegiance, as drink and song became linked with politics. The widespread ritual consumption of wine, or health drinking, developed as an expression of loyalty to King and Church. This was a practice of Cavaliers, Tories and Jacobites. Angela McShane-Jones, from the University of Warwick, said: “Binge drinking is far from a modern problem. ‘Saint Monday’ was a phrase indicating the inability of people to work on a Monday because of the way they had entertained themselves after church the day before.” Another recent report from the research company Mintel, suggested that in fact Germany is now top of the European league for beer consumption. Mintel found that last year the average German adult drank 255 pints of beer, 35 more than the average British adult. It makes you wonder really whether Germans are drinking to their government’s health more than the British are. Cheers Tone!