Friday, 13 July 2007

Conservatives commit political suicide?

I hardly think this report, proposing a 7p a pint tax increase on beer (which would probably end up as at least 20p at the bar), is likely to be a vote-winner.

Given that the UK already has some of the highest alcohol taxation in Europe, the causes of our problems surely lie much more in general social attitudes to drinking. Matters are being made worse not by low prices but by the current tendency towards the demonisation of alcohol which deters the regular, moderate drinking which is the key to keeping the "demon drink" in its place.

And it's depressing to see the Conservatives, traditionally the party representing the interests of the licensed trade and pubgoers, coming up with such a damaging proposal. Indeed, in 1959, Conservative Chancellor Derek Heathcoat-Amory cut beer duty for the only time since World War 2.

The plan was strongly condemned by Simon Heffer in the Daily Telegraph in an article entitled Drink is just a symptom of a broken society - hopefully Cameron will have the sense to ditch it very publicly.

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