Related tags General election Harold wilson Conservative party

The delay of the general election carries mixed implications for the trade, says John Grogan MP My late father's political hero Harold Wilson's...

The delay of the general election carries mixed implications

for the trade, says John Grogan MP

My late father's political hero Harold Wilson's dictum that "a week is a long time in politics" has never been truer. This week, instead of hastily packing up my Westminster office ahead of a general election, I am preparing for the new Parliamentary term ahead.

In the period up until the next general election, whether it is in 2009 or 2010, politics is likely to be more competitive than at any time since 1997. Hand-to-hand political combat between all the main political parties is likely to be the order of the day.

This new political situation will give those lobbying on behalf of the beer and pub industry both potential headaches as well as opportunities. In all areas of policy, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, the new Liberal Democrat leader and Alex Salmond will be competing for advantage.

As regards alcohol policy, the industry needs to persuade all of them not to engage in a Dutch auction of tough-sounding but ultimately ineffective measures to combat binge drinking, such as alcohol disorder zones. At the same time there will be the chance for the industry to push the agenda of social responsibility, strengthened self-regulation and combating irresponsible off-trade pricing and promotions to ministers and shadow ministers eager for policy ideas.

The reprieve from a general election will also provide an opportunity for the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group's panel on community pubs - chaired by Janet Dean MP and Nigel Evans MP - to produce their final report.

No doubt beer duty will feature strongly and it should be our aim to generate real political pressure on this issue ahead of the all-important spring 2008 budget.

The brewing industry is effectively facing stagflation with rising input costs, particularly cereal costs, and declining demand brought on by the bad weather, the smoking ban and relentless rises in duties.

As the second Scot in a row to hold the office of Chancellor, Alistair Darling must be careful not to leave himself open to charges that by continually freezing duty on spirits and raising them on beer, he is protecting an important Scottish industry, but disadvantaging a much bigger and more economically significant British one. Moreover, the freeze on spirits duty has helped boost the sale of products such as vodka. The health effects of substituting spirit sales for beer volume are likely to receive further scrutiny.

The Daily Mail's editorial on our first day back in the House of Commons read "a Government that urgently needs to establish a substantial record of achievement... an opposition that at last offers a realistic alternative... a new vibrancy in politics... might not this setback for Mr Brown actually turn out to be rather good news for the country?" The challenge of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group over the next 12 months is through our efforts to make sure that the new political mood turns out to be equally good news for beer and pubs as well.

John Grogan is Labour MP

for Selby, North Yorkshire

Related topics Other operators

Property of the week


£ 60,000 - Leasehold

Busy location on coastal main road Extensively renovated detached public house Five trade areas (100)  Sizeable refurbished 4-5 bedroom accommodation Newly created beer garden (125) Established and popular business...

Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more