Richard Siddle, opinion April 3, Power to the people
Anyone who is anybody from the political world was hanging around Downing Street this week as Gordon Brown hosted the world leaders for the G20 summit. So when better to pop along to Number 10 to do a spot of sabre rattling on behalf of the drinks industry over the never-ending issue of high duty rates.
Hats off to Catherine Monahan and the supporting cast at Le Beast wines for organising the event which saw the notoriously competitive drinks trade press down pens for the day and show unity in supporting the cut duty cause.
What made this week's event particularly significant was that it also involved the great British public and thanks to the wonders of Twitter and Facebook saw folks off the street come along to lend their support. OK it was not of the scale of other demonstrations passing along Whitehall this week and it was quite an eclectic mix of passing businessmen, media folk, teachers - even a millionaire entrepreneur - as well as loyal members of the trade.
But it's clearly an issue the public are happy to support. When passers-by asked what we were up to they were quite happy to pick up a placard and join in. Even the local constabulary expressed approval of our attempts to lower the cost of their daily tipple.
The public are the missing ingredient in the duty debate and the more we can get them involved the more the politicians and rest of the media will listen.
This week is dedicated to the issue of duty as we examine the impact rising taxes are having on all aspects of the trade be it at the sharp end in terms of job losses right back to the starting point and the quality of wine being made. We also examine what steps people across the industry are taking to mange duty in their particular businesses. Please write in and share your experiences with us and we can pass on the advice to the rest of the trade.