Monthly Archives: January 2012

And remember, it’s your votes that count

If you’re a CAMRA member… Let me put that another way: if you’re not a CAMRA member, what are you doing here? Why are you reading blogs like this unless you’re an enthusiast for what’s known as real ale? If you’re not a CAMRA member, you should join forthwith.

But if you are a CAMRA member… I’ll rephrase that: if you’re not a CAMRA member, one of the reasons you should definitely join immediately is that it gives you the chance to influence CAMRA policy. You can even vote on the organisation’s Campaign Focus for the coming year. How cool is that? Go on, get over there and join. I’m not linking to the CAMRA Website here, if you can use Google you can find it in five seconds flat. Let me put that another way: if you can’t use Google… hang on, I’m getting sidetracked.

Anyway, as I was saying. If you’re a CAMRA member, you will have received an email from the organisation’s Volunteers Director, with a link to a survey giving members input into the decision on CAMRA’s campaign focus for 2012/13. The top four campaigns (out of six) will be debated at National Executive level, and recommendations made on that basis will go from the Exec to Conference in April. So members’ answers to the survey really matter, particularly when it comes to campaigns that aren’t popular with the membership.

I won’t link to the survey here; if you can read email you can find it quickly enough. I’ll rephrase that: if you can’t read email (you’ve done this one – Ed.). I’ll tell you what’s in it, though. Here’s the draft list of six campaign priorities:

1 To encourage more people to try a range of real ales
2 To increase availability and awareness of guest beers in pubs
3 Stop tax killing beer and pubs
4 To secure an effective Government support package for pubs
5 Improve Planing Protection for pubs
6 Raise the profile of pub going and increase the number of people using pubs regularly

There’s a joke there somewhere about planing protection, but I’ve probably inflicted enough of my ‘sense of humour’ on you for one night.

And here’s how I ordered them:

6 Raise the profile of pub going and increase the number of people using pubs regularly
3 Stop tax killing beer and pubs
1 Encourage more people to try a range of real ales
5 Improve planning protection for pubs
2 Increase availability and awareness of guest beers in pubs
4 Secure an effective government support package for pubs

If it were down to me, in other words, increased availability of guest beers would drop off the bottom of CAMRA’s agenda, at least for next year; as would government support for pubs (whatever that means – and I’m enough of a libertarian to be very suspicious of the strings that would almost certainly be attached). I think my lack of enthusiasm for the ‘guest beer’ proposal is down to two things. One is simply my age: I didn’t grow up with guest beers, and I’m quite nostalgic for the world of the Beer Orders; in parts of the country I think the system worked. (In Manchester, the only alternative to drinking Hyde’s bitter was finding a Holt’s, Robinson’s, Lee’s, Boddies’, Wilson’s, Greenall Whitney, Burtonwood or Marston’s house. How we suffered.) More importantly, I’m not sure exactly what they’re asking for or who they’re asking. 6 and 1 are things CAMRA members can do, individually and collectively; 3 and 5 are things CAMRA can demand from the government. Who is going to increase availability of guest beers in pubs, and how? A massive expansion of JDW’s would do the trick, but I’m not convinced that what’s good for Tim Martin is necessarily good for Britain (or CAMRA).

There’s also a small free-text box where you can put in any campaign they’ve missed. I thought about the smoking ban – I love smoke-free pubs, but a blanket ban was the wrong way to go; the effect on the trade is unarguable. But eventually I went for

Against neo-prohibitionism, for beer drinking as part of a healthy lifestyle

with this in the “any other comment” box:

CAMRA is in favour of alcohol consumption and shouldn’t be ashamed of it. The average moderate drinker has better long-term health prospects than the average teetotaller; CAMRA should be shouting about this, and having nothing to do with crypto-prohibitionists like Alcohol Concern.

Also, it would be nice to have some recognition that beer bloggers are, in the main, ordinary beer drinkers rather than invaders from the planet Craft Geek.

“Planet Craft Geek” doesn’t quite work; what I meant was “from the planet BeerAdvocate”, but anyone who didn’t understand beer bloggers certainly wouldn’t understand that reference.

Those are my priorities, anyway; yours may be different, and if you’re a CAMRA member you can fill in the survey yourself. Put it another way (don’t even think of it – Ed.).