Leading article: Test of resolve

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January is the month of the self-denying ordinance. Smokers, drinkers, gamblers, over-eaters; there are few of us without vice, and fewer still who do not consider at least some sacrifice following festive over-indulgence.

And we all know precisely how bad our habits are because, perhaps with the exception of gambling, the Government spent much of 2008 telling us. Barely a week seemed to pass without a ministerial pronouncement urging us to lay off junk food or requiring us to pay more for our drinks.

Yet those of us about to find a New Year resolution should spare a thought for poor old Revenue and Customs. Besieged by VAT cuts and falling retail sales, the Rev will see their tax take fall further if our will holds in 2009.

There is no small irony that this nannying Government, which is committed to spending its way out of a financial hole, will find it even more difficult to do so should we actually quit the behaviours of which they so earnestly disapprove.

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