Cider war fizzes on as militants take up anti-darling arms

AS VOTE-losers go, chancellor Alistair Darling’s punitive tax on cider really is shaping up to be a corker.

By close of play yesterday – just a day after Darling announced in the Budget he will be popping duty on the tipple at 10 per cent above the rate of inflation from midnight on Sunday – the electorate were signing up to a Facebook petition at the rate of thirty a minute. (Last time The Capitalist checked, “Leave Our Cider Alone!” had a membership of well over 22,000, but you can count on that having soared overnight.)

Not only are the infuriated cider-guzzlers attacking Darling with the kind of vehemence usually reserved for Sol Campbell at an away match at White Hart Lane, but they’re also on a full-blown mission to get the tax revoked.

In addition to an official petition on the 10 Downing Street website, some members are suggesting a White Lightning-fuelled get-together just outside Downing Street on the Saturday night.

And yet another petition has sprung up to get The Wurzels’ “I am a cider drinker” to number one in the charts by Sunday. Well, if an unknown couple from Essex can power Rage Against The Machine to the top spot against the mighty Simon Cowell and his X Factor protégé Joe McElderry, why ever not?

Unhappy times chez Julian Rifat – the Moore Capital trader who was one of those arrested earlier this week in a sensational insider trading sting operation.

It emerges that Rifat was actually arrested on his 41st birthday, though The Capitalist imagines the authorities were unwilling to shell out for balloons and a cake, given the three years the FSA’s 143 enforcement officers had to spend on their investigation prior to the swoop.

Red faces all round at PR firm Brunswick yesterday, after an email was circulated to numerous newsrooms containing a detailed “Q&A” document on the subject of the Dubai government’s $9.5bn restructuring of Dubai World’s debt.

The document, which set out the proper message to be conveyed to the press, was clearly not a formal statement, though The Capitalist understands the muck-up was out of Brunswick’s hands.

“That’s something that was sent out by the ruler of Dubai’s office alongside the press release,” coughs an embarrassed spinner. “There was a bit of panic as we phoned up everyone saying it had not been signed off and should not have been sent out…”

Finally, congratulations are due to the boys over at Deloitte, whose Tristars football team has reached the final of a London-wide junior cup.

I hear close to 200 teams registered for the competition last summer, and Deloitte is now gunning for glory in the final on 18 April.They’re playing at the Brimsdown Rovers FC ground, which can house 500 spectators – if City faithfuls wish to pop along to give their support.