Either sort it out among yourselves or we'll sort it out for you.

That was the message from the coalition when it asked the industry to help cut down on binge drinking earlier this summer, even offering the industry special dispensation if a consensus could be reached.

But if ever a reminder were needed of the lack of consensus it came this week, when Diageo's GB boss Simon Litherland delivered a proposal to the Treasury helpfully suggesting that it could raise an estimated £1.9bn if excise duties on alcohol were standardised based on the current levels for spirits.

Cunning as it is, I actually have some sympathy with this proposal. There's no difference in binge drinking terms between a bottle of Chardonnay, six pints of lager or a succession of Red Bull vodkas shots.

The effect will be the same in each case. And there's a neatness to these proposals that fits in with the coalition's wider call for simpler tax structures which, given the complexities of calculating duty at the moment, would be welcome. The proposals even address the disparity between excise duty rates on cider and beer, which in different circumstances could have united Diageo with the brewers.

But Litherland's comments were bound to upset rivals. While they have been grappling with the binge-drinking issue from a Home Office perspective, Diageo has used a separate Treasury consultation to pull the ground from beneath them.

Quick to describe the move as "cynical" and "self-serving", the truth is that rivals also are considering consensus based on self interest. Where Diageo has outmanoeuvred them here is in acting like a teacher's pet. Diageo does not claim its proposals would cut out binge drinking.

But it must be tempting for the Treasury to raise an extra £1.9bn with a move that it could neatly dress up as fair, simple and responsible.