Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Alistair is no Darling of the Pub Trade

It seems that Mr Darling's recent shenanigans with duty increases have got on the wick of the pub trade more than somewhat. Following hard on the heels of the annual price increases imposed by the brewers before the budget, (nice timing guys) comes Alistair's whopping 4p a pint duty increase, plus a drinks escalator. This will see duty rise 2% above inflation for the next four years.

A campaign has started to bar our dear Chancellor from every pub in the land. Copies of a poster can be found here and printed off as required. It is a good bit of fun with a serious message. No-one in their right mind believes that the budget increase had anything to do with binge drinking and everything to do with revenue raising, with its daft attack on pub goers (mainly responsible drinkers in a controlled and licensed environment) in favour of those who buy their booze cheaply elsewhere and then create a public nuisance. But you can't help but feel the trade needs to do better overall and that the main gripe is the Chancellor got in first, thus preventing increases from licensees.

Nonetheless Mr D's interference is unwelcome and the poster campaign will at least get the cause of pubs a little more publicity than otherwise, which isn't a bad thing. The trade needs to be much more imaginative in its response to the current anti drink fetish of the press and needs to do much more to attract customers. The pub trade still hasn't got the message that the "offering" has to be much better than it currently is in all but a minority of pubs. The current round of price increases simply puts this fact into a sharper focus.


Stonch said...

Hmmm. To be honest Tandleman, I'm a little disappointed you're promoting this "campaign"! It's terribly tabloid and vulgar.

For the record I disagree entirely with the beer duty rises in the Budget and backed CAMRA in their call for a 1p fall. I just don't like this tosh.

Tandleman said...

I think I called it a bit of fun with a serious message and then examined the message rather than agreeing per se with the campaign. In fact I have a bit of a go at tye pub trade. I do think it is a bit of fun though.

Scarcely more vulgar than a discussion about farting I'd venture?

The Southport Drinker said...

Stonch, you're always sticking up for Labour and accuse those who think their current policies are bad news for pubs and home drinkers of being either vulgar or nutters (I think you put me in the nutty category).

This is a great, fun campaign, which I have been supporting on my blog, too. It's also the sort of thing that may persuade drinkers to get more serious about the politics of pubs.

Gordon Brown may have been the beer champion once upon a time but no longer.

Drink prices are shooting up, pubs are closing down, drinkers are being accused of all sorts of social evils.

Soon only toffs and lawyers will be able to afford to drink in pubs.

Tyson said...

I agree with Tandleman-its a good bit of fun with a serious message. Saw it on Southport Drinkers blog and have printed several off. They have proved a good talking point. You can't afford to be highbrow on issues like this. Sometimes the tabloids are right!

Stonch said...

Southport Drinker, I think we have a very different take on things. Let's leave it at that. For the record I have no agenda that involves "sticking up for Labour".

Stonch said...

Southport Drinker, I think we have a very different take on things. Let's leave it at that. For the record I have no agenda that involves "sticking up for Labour".

Boak said...

Thing is, as Maieb pointed out, there's a lot more than 4p a pint going on, and this is not attributable to the budget.

Now I've no objection to microbrewers passing on rises in malt, hops etc, but what odds will someone give me on prices going back down again should we have a fruitful hop harvest? It suits everyone in the trade to blame the rise in duty.

I'm not excusing the rise, by the way.

Paul Garrard said...

It's a classic Orwellian response from the pub trade as far as I can see - create an enemy to blame for all your problems, thus distracting from/ignoring the enemy within.

Darling should have just been honest about the tax increase and not used the binge drinking excuse. I'm a Labour voter but that doesn't mean I support everything they do. IMO Darling is a tosser!

Tyson said...

I still think it's a valid point. Beer duty is still a major, if not the major problem, that we have to tackle. Yes, there are other things to consider-some pubcos have used it as an excuse for increases but locally I've seen prices mainly increase in the freehouses.

The steep rise in ingredient costs is something of a red herring. As has been pointed, they account for only a very,very,small fraction of the cost of a pint.