What do you think of our Chancellor?
In the year when Britain lost its triple-A rating, which we think means that we now have less power than quite a small battery, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is about to take the little red Budget Box for its annual outing and try and turn this country’s fortunes around.
This also means that we in the wine industry are about to leap on to our high horses, (we were feeling left out of all the horse-related shenanigans of the past months), about the ever-increasing duty on alcohol.
Despite the fact that it is a tradition that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is allowed to drink alcohol while delivering the Budget, something that is forbidden at all other times in the debating chamber, in recent history the speech has become a platform for a parliamentary pummelling of alcohol. Unfortunately George Osborne has followed in the footsteps of two others who also opted for water and also proved rather unpopular. The last Chancellor to partake in an alcoholic drink whilst delivering his speech was Kenneth Clarke, who enjoyed a wee dram of whisky. Interestingly, Kenneth Clarke is seen as one of our most successful Chancellors, who helped the country recover from recession and reduced taxes, unemployment, inflation and the budget deficit, and even had his policies implemented by the opposition when they took over the reins. Although we are no politicians, we think this might suggest that George Osborne should consider partaking in a proper drink whilst delivering this year’s Budget speech. Oddbins would happily provide it for him.
What is most likely is that on Wednesday George Osborne will not mention alcohol at all, which will in turn be reported as “no changes to alcohol in this year’s Budget.” But in reality the duty escalator, set up in 2008, will sneakily push the duty up by 2% above the rate of inflation for the fifth year in a row, without many people noticing. This seems a little harsh when the government is capping everything else at 1% irrespective of inflation.
Duty on a bottle of wine is set to rise to £2 this year and to £2.56 for sparkling wine, the second highest rates in Europe. This enormous and largely covert tax hike is usually marketed by the politicians as an attempt to curb our “unacceptable behaviour” and “binge drinking”. Funnily enough alcohol prices have been rising steadily for years and this seems to have had little discernible impact on the nation’s drinking habits. In Narcotics Anonymous’ basic text it says “Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.” Unfortunately not many politicians have read this text, so it’s unlikely that we will hear innovative suggestions like making alcohol less convenient by selling it through alcohol only retailers, educating consumers or campaigns to “drink less, but drink better” (as this is healthier and offers more value for money to the consumer). Just a few thoughts.
We might be getting a bit conspiracy theorist here, but has it crossed anyone else’s worried mind that minimum alcohol pricing (which would contribute nothing to the government coffers) was only scrapped in the week before the Budget to make way for massive duty increases or worse?
Anyway, before we get carried away, you’re probably getting bored of listening to us bash the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We got to thinking that maybe we’ve been a bit unfair on George Osborne. We want to know what you think. Maybe you rate him and think he is doing a stellar job with the mess he inherited. We hear about opinion polls all the time, but do you know anyone who has actually taken part in one? Neither do we. So we’ve decided to start a poll of our own, one that you can all join in on.
We’ve chosen two lovely Valencian wines that reflect the opposing camps when it comes to feelings about the Chancellor and his Budget. All we’re asking you to do is put your money where your mouth is and tell us how you rate the Right Honourable MP’s chances of pulling us all out of this lingering financial fug…
…and to sweeten the poll we are going to give you a little Budget-based discount. Before the duty escalator was introduced an £8 bottle of wine was about 17% duty, it is currently nearer 24%. For an £8.50 sparkling wine the duty has moved from 20% to nearer 29%. On this basis we are going to sell our two poll wines at a 2007 duty rate until our shops close on Budget Day. We’re calling it our dubious duty discount.
Torre Oria Cava Reserva – Was £8.50, NOW £7.78 until Budget Day
If you think that George Osborne is going to make it fourth time lucky and put the wind back into the UK’s sails with this year’s Budget and navigate our way out of these economic doldrums, please cast your vote by buying Torre Oria Cava Reserva (you can do this online or in any of our shops).
This Spanish fizz has more in common with Eurosceptic George than he might care to admit. Like the Chancellor of the Exchequer this wine is full of youthful charm, exuberance and fruitiness (did you see the GQ Awards speech?) that belies the hard work that has been put into its creation behind the scenes. Cava is often unfairly overshadowed by its sparkling comrades of Champagne and Prosecco, as George has sometimes been by David Cameron, Michael Gove, Theresa May and Boris Johnson, but like the Chancellor it still maintains its aristocratic air. The IMF has described George’s policies as “essential” and the Torre Oria Cava Reserva certainly makes financial sense. It would also make the perfect way to celebrate a bit of long overdue economic good news.
Casa Lluch Tempranillo – Was £8, NOW £7.43 until Budget Day
If you think that Wednesday’s Budget is going to go down about as well as George’s performance at the Olympics please cast your vote by buying Casa Lluch Tempranillo (you can do this online or in any of our shops).
Roguish as a Bullingdon boy and clad with a paisley label that is strangely fitting for the heir to a successful wallpaper empire, Bodegas Enguera changed the name of this wine at a young age, much like Gideon did. This wine is a little bargain; you might say that this is First Class for a Standard Class price, something George would certainly approve of. Like the avian label, will George prove too much of a flouncy chicken to do anything about the silly duty escalator? Come Wednesday will we all be as “appalled” by him as the Financial Times was?
We’re running our poll and duty escalator discount on these two wines until Budget Day. Once we’ve crunched the numbers we’ll release our findings on Thursday 21 March, right here on our blog. Then we’ll see how you feel and how accurate you guys are. Please note that we will ensure that our figures are based in fact to avoid being rebuked by the UK Statistics Authority.
If you are unable to get to an Oddbins shop or order online before Budget Day, but still want to participate, you can take part in an online version of our poll by clicking here. [Please note voting and Budget poll web page are now closed]
And finally, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer does the right thing in this year’s Budget by scrapping the duty escalator and not increasing the duty on alcohol, we will be so deliriously happy that we’ll give away a bottle of Torre Oria Cava Reserva and Casa Lluch Tempranillo to the first customer who heads into each of our shops on Thursday 21 March and says the magic words “George Gideon Oliver Osborne is a bally hero.” Despite the craziness of committing to give wine away for free, we still have our fingers crossed that common sense prevails on Wednesday.