Oi, ref! We're not singing any more

12 December, 2008

When a football referee has a bad game he'll end up with thousands of fans chanting: "You don't know what you're doing."

Well, all the independent off-licences of the UK should be sending that very same message to the government.

This VAT decrease of 2.5% is farcical, especially with a duty increase for the second time this year. The Chancellor's about-turn on spirits is another sign of getting it wrong.

The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, has announced measures on alcohol, such as banning organised pub crawls - how does that affect Camra's walkabouts?

History proves that previous governments have shown little concern for the small shopkeeper or independents. When VAT came out in 1973 we had three months to claim back the old sales tax (purchase tax), which it replaced. I remember having to do a full stock-take and needed the use of A-level maths (which I didn't have) to work it out.

Prior to that, we had Feb 15 1971 - D-day, or Decimal Day, where 100 pence replaced 240 pennies - that was inflation at the strike of a wand.

So they included a half pence - only the government could mix fractions and decimals.

Cheer up, though - it looks like they are reopening some open cast mines that the other lot shut.

John Mitchell

Chairman of the Yorkshire & North East Wine & Spirit Association




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Richard Hemming MW: beware inverse snobbery

Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle – which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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