Cheaper whisky would make Scotland say no to independence?
Gorgeous George has been in the news again recently, spouting off about further cuts to public service budgets and just how much the National Minimum Wage should increase (over the current £6.31 for those 21+). However, what he has remained tight-lipped about, is whether he has heeded pleas to adjust the duty on wines and spirits in a similar way to beer.
While January is never the best month to think about drinking, and with record numbers becoming charitable dryathletes, perhaps George could be forgiven for ignoring the recent campaigns. However, it seems that, owing to one particular tipple, the Treasury might consider making an exception.
Economic secretary Nicky Morgan stated that the government will ‘look at’ the duty escalator on spirits during a Westminster debate on how whisky sales in the UK have been squeezed by 12% in the last five years because of high taxation- if the escalator escalates as planned, over 80% of a bottle will be duty. Which doesn't leave much room for the alcohol.
While looking at is not necessarily the same as taking action, Ms Morgan said: “I can give an assurance that I will give this very serious consideration in the run up to the Budget, and I certainly will discuss it with my colleagues in the Treasury, including my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.”
Many are speculating that a Budget announcement of a cut in duty would be opportune, likely to come six months before a referendum on Scottish independence and that cheaper whisky could be just one of a number of measures aimed at boosting Scotland and supporting the No campaign.
And it seems there is growing parliamentary support for cutting spirit duty, or possibly just whisky duty- Chief Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander and Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael both have distilleries in their constituencies and have campaigned for fairer tax on whisky in the past. Alan Reid, Lib Dem MP for Argyll and Bute, said: “It is very unfair that whisky is taxed far higher than beer and wine. We must be about the only country in the world that taxes our own product higher than imported products like wine.”
So what do you think? Is a whisky-driven duty drop going to convince hard line separatists that Westminster isn’t so bad after all, or don’t you care what the Scots do, so long as your gin is a bit cheaper?