|I have no plans to kick this oleaginous, deceitful, dishonest, callous multi-millionaire (inherited) repeatedly in the face*|
Today's budget has been called many things. 'A budget for growth'. A 'tax cutting budget'. It comes one week after David Cameron promised to 'remove all obstacles to growth' from small businesses. You know, businesses like, ooh, craft breweries. Or pubs.
So it's pretty repulsive that in what is indeed being hailed by the media as a budget for growth, George Gideon Osborne hit beer with a whopping 7.2% tax increase, bringing the total increase in VAT and duty on beer to a whopping 32.4% since October 2008.
"Whoa, hang on there, Pete!" I hear you saying. "I've been watching the budget, and Osborne specifically said that beer tax wasn't going up."
Oh yes, he must have done. Look, the Guardian says "No change to rates of alcohol duty." The BBC confirms this in its coverage, categorically stating that the chancellor "froze alcohol duties."
That must mean alcohol duty didn't go up, right? There is no other possible meaning of the words being reported right there.
What Osborne actually said was there would be "no additional rise" in alcohol duty.
No additional rise. But that means it's not going up, surely! Well, that's what it means to any casual observer. The man in the street. In fact, anyone who does not have a thorough working knowledge of treasury tax plans in relation to the brewing industry.
If you DO know those plans (and if you don't work in beer or pubs, there's no reason you should), you will know that Labour instigated a 'beer duty escalator' of inflation plus 2% every year, and that one of the first things Osborne did on coming to power was to extend this so that it happens every year until 2014. So when Osborne says there are no additional rises, he means no rises in addition to the 7.2% he was already planning to slap on.
See what he did there?
By saying he was only going to increase tax by the amount he planned to increase tax by, that is, by saying he isn't going to implement any tax rises on top of the tax rises he was already planning to implement, he's conned everyone - including intelligent, major, reputable news outlets - into thinking he hasn't increased taxes at all.
If you didn't know about the duty escalator, you would have no idea what he'd just done.
True, he's only applying the tax increases Labour would have done. But at least Labour told us honestly and clearly that they were shafting us, and how much by.
So it's a tragedy for everyone really. Pubs will close because of this. Jobs will be lost because of it. The price of a pint will go up 10p because of it. And the most stupid part is, the effect it will have on demand means that the treasury will actually make less money because of it. Stupid beyond belief.
But while we lick our wounds over this latest battering, we should reflect on the marvellous gift Osborne has given us with this new piece of spin, a greasy deceit that even Malcolm Tucker would applaud.
Because we can all take this same linguistic construct, this same extreme economy with the truth, and use it in our every days lives.
Say, for example, that I haven't had anything to drink for five days, and tonight I plan to go out and drink ten pints and get rat-arsed. If you ask me, "Are you going to have another night off the beer tonight?" I can simply reply, "My plans relating to drink tonight remain unchanged. I won't be drinking any additional beer." Unless you know I was already planning to drink ten pints (and you won't, because I haven't told you) you'll think I'm not going to drink. Hah! But the joke is on you, because I am!
Here's another one. I'm very angry with George Osborne, even angrier now than when I first saw his pompous, arrogant little face sneering down at the rest of us while he rubbed his multi-million pound inheritance all over his pasty white doughy skin. I have always thought that if I ever met him, I would kick him repeatedly in the face.
But you don't know that.
So, say I was invited to a Parliamentary Beer Group function at which he was going to be a guest, and someone took me to one side and said, "Pete, we know you're very angry with Mr Osborne about his wilful deception and deliberate misleading of the media and the British people over beer duty increases. You're not hoping to kick him repeatedly in the face or anything are you?"
I could in all honesty reply, "The way that upper class, over-privileged, callous, pig-ignorant dickhead misled the nation over alcohol duty has not increased the likelihood of me kicking him repeatedly in the face. Not one bit. I have no additional plans to kick him in the face repeatedly." And unless you were listening very, very carefully, you'd think I meant I wasn't planning on kicking him repeatedly in the face.
I'm going to use it all the time from now on.
*Or rather, what I mean is, the plans I have to do so have not changed.