The Telegraph seems to think that as a nation, we drank 1.5 million fewer pints per day in the final quarter of last year. They also note that on and off trade fell about equally.
Now poor weather, rising taxes and less disposable income will all impact on this of course. To be honest, I had no idea that beer was subject to a tax-escalator but can well believe that taxes are up 42% since 2008. You may notice that unlike actual escalators, government ones never seem to stop. With beer sales down in 2011 as well, you have to wonder if this is a deliberate policy of destruction being inflicted on the pub trade. It must be obvious to even the most empty-headed MP that you can’t just keep jacking up taxes without killing the goose.
But what really struck me about this story is what it didn’t say. Perhaps it would be more accurate to state
“1.5 million fewer pints that the government can extract revenue on were purchased from licensed suppliers. We have no clue how many people are now home brewing or buying off the white van man thus showing that the Laffer curve is alive and well”
This possibly explains the rise in these god-awful shows trying to show the absolutely ghastly tossers who work for HM customs as some sort of heroes when they are in fact brainless drones who would round up people for ‘re-education’ camps if so instructed. Thus we see people bringing in a few hundred quid’s worth of tobacco or booze treated like they are Bin Laden and asked to ‘prove’ the product is for their personal use. Last time I checked, they were supposed to work for us, so it really should be a case of ‘prove I am a criminal or Foxtrot-Oscar’ rather than having your goods seized (i.e. stolen by criminals). It is a high bar, but this lot maybe more loathsome than tax inspectors.
The government might talk about the big society but its just empty rhetoric unless you mean a smokeless, booze-free, joyless exercise in government approved activity (which they themselves shun of course). About as far removed from spontaneous, ground-up community activity as it is possible to imagine. Culture doesn’t need government encouragement or subsidy. If it is popular enough it will survive on its own.