Friday, October 27, 2006

FACE STUFFIN': Piss This Up The Wall, Hewitt

Apart from Iraq, and the fact that Peter Mandelson has not been hunted down with dogs and removed to Kamchatka, the 'New' Labour policy that excised my gut instinct to always vote for that ruin of a party was the whimsical decision in 2002 not to prevent the Royal Mail from removing postal traffic from the railways; this oh-so-green government decided that juggernauts would do the job much better. No-brainer or what?

But Patricia Hewitt's latest weekend-headlines wheeze might top the lot. This relentlessly horrible woman proposes a hike in alcohol tax to prevent teenagers binging on alcopops. Not a ban on their sale; or even a targeted tax; or even a change in licensing; no, because Brit teenagers are the most feckless, overfunded, thick, obtuse, venal little bastards in Europe and can't hold their booze, everyone else has to suffer.

Quite apart from the puritan undercurrents of this ludicrous idea - an expectably public and classically vulgar krypto-Blairite kneejerk to a query from a group of children, ideal Mail and Express fodder that will play well in traditionally Labour heartlands like, er, Solihull and Bromley - it has shadows of Islingtonian preciousness so typical of Blairism. Of the world where children, even if they have just lynched next door's pekinese, are always, enervatingly, addressed as 'darling', allowed democratically-agreed bedtimes, or just simply to fuck everyone else's life up as they see fit. 'They're tiny adults, you see,' is the stock excuse. The children aren't to blame. They never are; responsibilities, strangely enough, don't ever seem to come with the adulthood starter pack their addled parents bestow on them.

And so who is to blame, and who will cop the flak? If this obscenity finds its way to law, the people who will bear the brunt are artisanal brewers, winemakers, distillers, cidermakers; rural pubs; real ale fans; gourmet restaurants; anywhere, anyone and anything to do with quality drinks. Tax alcopops themselves? The horror! What corporate panic would that spread? Would a government that has no problem with obscene wealth even consider doing such a thing?

Does Traquair House or Wye Valley or Mauldon's or Sedlescombe Vineyard or Dunkerton's Cider or Springbank produce technicolour yawns in our city centres after midnight? Silly question - so silly, Hewitt hasn't even considered it.

Hewitt's harebrained scheme envisages the most regressive taxation in Britain since the Poll Tax - screw the innocent and modest and exculpate the guilty and rich.

Stop this woman. Now.

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