Why I Don't Talk About Politics
You’ve made it to Newsletter #3
Not Talking Politics...
Another Sunday, and we're onto the 3rd newsletter. I'm already thinking about taking about politics but I'd really rather not do that. So, let's spend a little time delving into why I'm not taking about such subjects as The Budget, and how that affects wine duty.
It's Tone Deaf...
Politics can be a very polarising place, and when it comes to fermented grape beverages there are more important things to talk about than a few pence in extra taxes on a bottle.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak hailed his Budget as heralding “a new age of optimism”. But hard-pressed taxpayers could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
While wages are climbing and set to rise further, for most people the gains will almost certainly be eaten away over the coming years by inflation, tax increases and rising mortgage costs.
- FT Money reporters, Josephine Cumbo, Joshua Oliver, James Pickford & Stefan Wagstyl, for FT.com
See what I mean? It feels slightly insignificant. I don't want to inappropriately alienate readers by moaning about an already imbalanced alcohol tax system being tilted further in the favour of Big Beer and Small Cider.
For example, proposals last week said that while removing the premium on sparkling wine, the rate on a lot* of other wines is going up by nearly £1 a bottle.
Even more ingloriously, they** are proposing to change the calculations from a flat rate, to a convoluted system linked to the alcohol content, blah, blah, blah. Essentially, while both going up, a 12% abv bottle of Pinot Grigio will go up less than a 14% abv bottle of Rioja.
I can't think of many things more boring than spending an entire newsletter intricately picking apart sneaky Wine Duty Reform*** proposals.
All this while loudly exclaiming that £6.99 Prosecco is “no longer the preserve of wealthy elites”.
It's bonkers, yes, more importantly all rather dull to read about.
Politics is largely an argument between the selfless and selfish.
For example, in this article by Richard Siddle in The Buyer, on W.D.R Wednesday, four people twisted the negativity into something positive, while being comfortably vague about the proposed damage.
Ed Baker, managing director at Kingsland Drinks Group, said:
“We wholeheartedly welcome cancelling the predicted rise in alcohol duty rates – it will certainly go some way in boosting the industry’s ability to recover in the toughest trading conditions in recent history.
The Chancellor’s decision to overhaul duty rates addresses a longer-standing need for fairer taxation across the alcohol industry, but the detail as to how this will impact individual sectors in practice remains to be seen."
The wine industry is a convivial place, ripe with lively debate, and politics can be a catalyst for less analytical discussion.
We end up talking to ourselves and beating our own drum, bleating about pennies when the Gov should be taking a pounding.
A Sense of Déjà Vu?
"Every other year since 1992 there has been tinkering to the rate for one product or another, particularly over the last four years of the Osborne era, which followed the years of painful above inflation rises due to the 2008-2013 escalator.
Politics just keeps on going, doesn't it? It's relentless. You can catch yourself in a frenzy quite easily.
Remember, wine is a drink to be enjoyed, no matter how hard politics tries to take the fun out of it, and that's why I won't write about it.
* Really, loads of them, nearly every still red, white, rosé, port & sherry. The lot of them, all going up. Some by more than sparkling is coming down. A huge net increase that I really don't want to be getting into.
** The Government, keep up.
*** Now known simply as 'W.D.R'.
The official press release from the Wine & Spirits Trade Association.
Alcohol tax freeze comes as a huge relief to wine and spirit businesses
Something that is definitely not politics...
A sPoOKy hALoWeEN Link ... Dogs on Instagram