An MSP who represents 95% of Scotland's whisky distilleries has lambasted the UK Labour Government for the budget day announcement of a 59p hike in tax for a bottle of whisky.
Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson accused Chancellor Alasdair Darling of orchestrating a smash and grab raid on the economic communities of North Scotland whilst offering them nothing in return.
"In some situations you have to ask yourself who benefits from such actions? In this situation I am not sure who benefits (apart from HM Treasury), but one thing is for sure the rural economy of the Highlands and Islands will not."
"Three days after the end of fair trade fortnight it is clear to Scotland and the world that the UK Government does not apply this sentiment to the Scottish whisky industry. Indeed what the Chancellor and the Prime Minister have done today is more in keeping with the actions of medieval feudal tax collectors as opposed to modern day practices."
"This announcement comes against the background of increased cost for the raw materials needed for whisky as well as energy costs. I cannot imagine another country in the world hammering a successful and world renowned business which is so important to the local economy and status as the way in which the UK
Government has done today. A 9% rise in tax increase is a big extra cost for distilleries which are investing and expanding to give better quality jobs in areas where unemployment is too high."
"A better solution would be for Holyrood to set and collect the tax and plough the money back into rural Scotland from whence it came. It is clear that Alasdair Darling regards Scotland's whisky industry as a cash cow which along with Scottish Oil revenue is cynically used to prop up a failing British economy."
"Make no mistake that the main losers in the Chancellor's announcement are the whisky producing communities of the Highlands and Islands. This will make no noticeable difference in the binge drinking culture in Scotland. The Chancellor is attacking communities as opposed to disorder through a price hike on cheap lager, cider and Alco pops."