‘Drunk for 1 penny, Dead drunk for tuppence, Straw for nothing’!!
The government of the day became alarmed when it was found that the average Londoner drank 14 gallons of spirit each year.
Excessive Gin rendered men impotent, and women sterile, and was a major reason why the birth rate in London at this time was exceeded by the death rate.
The Gin Act was passed, which levied a steep tax on Gin, and took it out of the financial reach of the poor. Later, the Duke of Wellington passed the Sale of Beer Act, which removed all taxes on Beer,Â and permitted anyone to open a Beer Shop on payment of a two-guinea fee. I have blogged HERE about one of those Beer shops which is still open to this day.
Alastair Darling’s desire to take Gin out of the reach of the poor echoes those days.
“MPs called for a return to the level in 1983 when the duty on a litre of pure alcohol was 11 per cent of the average male weekly manual wage.”
Now, why would Labour want to measure the level of duty on Gin against a manual worker’s wage? Are the streets once more filled with insensible working class Gin drinkers?Â Are we about to see a return to the Beer Shop? (Leg-Iron would approve!) Has the birth-rate of Labour voters declined due to over consumption of Gin? Is the ‘average Londoner’ drinking 14 Gallons of Gin a year?
Gin drinkers are more likely to be middle class professionals, er, the sort of people who go skiing in Andorra, where four litres of gin will set you back all of Â£12, or holidaying in the Dordogne, where a bottle of Gordon’s will cost you around Â£12 – not the Â£24 proposed by the Chancellor. Lucinda will have to forgo the Volvo boot full of Fois Gras in favour of Jeremy’s Gin, as middle class Britains turn into Gin Runners.
‘It’s for personal use Officer, Olivia is getting married next month, and we have to host the reception’.
I am convinced Nu-Labour would like to bring back the Beer Shop, Nu-Labour voters drinking cheap beer, and the middle classes penalised to replace the tax they are losing. It won’t work.
Publican’s everywhere will go out of business – those who have not already been driven out of business by the no-smoking legislation.
I have just had a long conversation with Denise Hogan,Â wife of the pub landlord jailed for flouting the no-smoking ban. Already the no-smoking ban has resulted in one of their two pubs going to the wall, her husband going bankrupt, (and being jailed) andÂ only half the premises of their present pub open for economic reasons.
Double the cost of spirits – and they will stay in business how?