Between 2000 and 2008, the tax on a bottle of wine increased by 15%. In the four years from 2008, the year Alastair Darling introduced the duty escalator, it has increased by 46%. It doesn't take a genius to link the steep rise with the wider economic circumstances. Put simply, tax on alcohol is a cash cow for the government that is being used to try and plug a budget deficit rather than change the way people drink.
There's been a lot of chatter in recent days about the budget. But it has lacked passion. It has utterly failed to engage the great British public. Why is this?
The sad truth is that the UK government has been running deficits for over a decade. General gross debt rose from 37% of GDP in 2001-02 to 44% of GDP in 2007-08 when strong growth should have led to healthy surpluses. Years of unsustainable discretionary spending and tax policies have left a ticking time bomb at the heart of the public finances.
We all know that the Chancellor has limited room for manoeuvre. All the signs are this is going to be a cautious budget, maintaining the overall direction of government policy.
Follow George Osborne's Budget 2013 live here with our 'At A Glance' guide to all the big decisions on the economy. Food
Three former members of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) have launched a scathing attack on George Osborne’s
So George Osborne has lost his treasured AAA rating. We are now heading for record consecutive quarters of stop-start growth. Youth unemployment is at an all-time high. Neither the deficit nor the debt is coming down and there's no money to do anything about it. If we want to spend more we have to borrow more, and even Ed Balls can't be sure we'll end up better off if we do.
Mehdi Hasan sat down with Labour’s fresh prince, Chuka Umunna, ahead of the 2013 Budget to talk bankers, business and why
Budget 2013 live : Follow George Osborne's announcement here with our 'At A Glance' guide to all the big decisions on the
After years of decline the UK video games industry grew by 4% in 2012 according to a trade body report. The number of creative