General election 2015: Cut alcohol duty to woo voters, WSTA argues

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

A cut in alcohol duty could help swing the general election results
A cut in alcohol duty could help swing the general election results

Related tags: Wine drinkers

A cut in alcohol duty in next Wednesday’s Budget (18 March) could significantly influence the outcome of May’s general election, according to a poll conducted for the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).

The survey, undertaken by YouGov, found that 60 per cent of the British public are now wine drinkers and wine is the most popular drink for voters from all of the leading political parties, as well as crucial undecided voters.

While the percentage of beer drinkers was fairly consistent across the main parties (at around 50 per cent), the survey found that 69 per cent of people who considered themselves Conservative voters were wine drinkers – something the WSTA suggested George Osborne should pay particular interest to.

The WSTA also believed the Liberal Democrats should look to draw on the 72 per cent of their supporters who were wine drinkers. It claimed that a reduction in duty could help swing the vote for them in key seats where their MPs are looking to hold on in close battles.

Swing voters

At 54 per cent, wine also led the way among the undecided ‘swing’ voters, compared to just 44 per cent being beer drinkers, and 29 per cent cider drinkers.

The data also shows that wine is favoured by voters in the two key electoral demographics. Nearly, two-thirds (64 per cent) of women polled claim to drink wine, while the same percentage of over 55s – traditionally the age group with the highest election turnout – also enjoyed the drink.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said: “Our polling has revealed that wine has the potential to play a defining role in the forthcoming election.

“With wine the drink of choice among voters from all political parties, as well as those still undecided about where to cast their vote, it is important that parties take our industry seriously.

Beale added: “This is particularly important for George Osborne to remember as he looks to deliver his Budget in less than a week’s time. With the bulk of his own supporters as well as crucial undecided voters preferring wine over any other alcoholic drink, choosing to cut duty on wine seems like a politically attractive decision for him to make”.

Public purse 

Independent research by Ernst & Young has showed that a duty cut would actually enable the Chancellor to reduce the deficit faster because it would increase the contribution to the public finances by over £1bn in 2015.

Furthermore, the WSTA has said a ‘modest’ two per cent cut in alcohol duty would create an additional 12,000 jobs across the country – from English and Welsh vineyards and wineries all the way to pubs, hotels and restaurants.

Currently, consumers pay 60 per cent tax on an average-priced bottle of wine in the UK.

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