So the mighty Tesco has spoken, coming out in favour of minimum pricing of alcoholic drinks, much to the surprise and no doubt chagrin of both its rivals and the drinks producers.
Writing in today's Daily Telegraph, Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy is backing the Government's plans to ban the sale of alcohol below cost price, as revealed in yesterday's coalition agreement outlined by Nick Clegg.
As ever, Sir Terry knows how to spot a trend and keep ahead of the competition. As he says, recent Tesco research found that almost 70 per cent of consumers believe excessive drinking is “one of the most serious issues facing the UK today”.
No doubt the Government will listen and be grateful to have Tesco on side. The company seems to be taking over from Rupert Murdoch as the bellweather of public opinion for UK governments, something that Sir Terry is well aware of and will exploit.
As he points out, somewhat mischievously, “we don't ask our customers what they think just once every five years. They are constantly voting on our performance, day in, day out”.
So Tesco will be warmly received in Whitehall but won't be quite as popular in the retail and drinks industries.
Not that this will worry Tesco one little bit.