"The only certainty is that minimum pricing will transfer large sums of money from the poorest people in society to wealthy industries."Yep, those 'Tory toffs' punishing the working class and poor again. It's such an incredibly easy hit for his political opponents that it's difficult to understand how any Prime Minister can possibly be advised so very badly.
It's not just class-led bias or lazy Punch and Judy politics, either. Even his own administration's backing documentation is unequivocal on the matter (impact assessment page 13).
"Analysis suggests that the lowest decile might experience the highest impact as a proportion of total expenditure or of income"Someone, surely, should have seen this storm coming a mile off. Shouldn't they? Or maybe Cameron believes that we will all happily pay more because, you know, it's gonna work innit.
Not according to the first research on attitudes compiled by renowned drinks industry champion, err, Alcohol Research UK.
"Participants responses frequently reflected the view that minimum pricing was a universal rather than targeted approach to pricing that would serve to unfairly punish those who drink sensibly" (page 12)
"The overwhelming feeling was the people will continue to drink and will adjust to the higher prices, or change choice of drink" (page 17)It's worse than that, though. You see, people are starting to look more closely at the issue and they're not liking it one little bit. Mudgie reports that signatures for the long-standing number 10 e-petition against minimum pricing have more than trebled in just a few days since the consultation was launched, and many are starting to properly query how much extortion the state employs towards alcohol.
Let's seize the day then, and help them.
Wine producer Château Bauduc has conjured up this very useful graphic detailing exactly how much consumers pay for bottles of differing prices but, more importantly, how much Cameron and his chums already steal off of us for a bit of relaxation.
Author Gavin also adds some revealing commentary.
As you can see, UK duty is nearly £2 a bottle (£1.90 now, rising to £2 in the next Budget) and there’s 20% VAT on the duty and the wine. UK wine retailers – whether supermarkets, merchants, websites or shops – have to add the dreaded £1.90 duty to the cost of the bottle before adding their margin and VAT. By contrast, there is no duty in Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Portugal and many other EU countries. In France, it’s 3p.Thieving rascals, eh?
Whatever the results of the consultation into minimum pricing, it’s tricky to see how poorer wine drinkers who drink sensibly – students, pensioners, my extended family – will be better off.
Let’s take that bottle of red wine I mentioned at 13% alcohol (9.8 units) which will rise to £4.41 from, say, £3.85 today (and some journalists still recommend wines at this price in national newspapers). Will a professional buyer for a supermarket, with double the margin in their pocket as a result of the higher selling price that’s forced upon them, say to their supplier ’Yes, I’ll pay more for this’?All of which means that beverages of choice for the less well of will not just rise in price, they will probably disappear altogether.
So, another lukewarm reception for the idea, this time from a supplier who might be expected to see some attraction in it. Which just leaves retailers themselves - with that lovely increased margin to salivate over - to back up our poor beleaguered spamhead.
But they're no mugs and understand - and cater for - the public very well (unlike some with a SW1A post code I could mention). They are well aware that dumping on them from a great height will not do much for their future prosperity, however many millions Cameron wants to take off the poor and deposit in big business bank accounts.
With the exception of Tesco, the general response from major supermarkets has been that the poor will be punished and that it is deeply unfair, while local shops will be mostly free to ignore the regulations entirely.
Still, he's gone and produced the consultation now so has committed to three months of abuse and questioning of his political antenna.