There have recently been a few ructions about the undemocratic proposal by CAMRA’s National Executive to remove the right of members to set the annual membership fees. I am a member of a professional accountancy institute, and that august body allows its members to vote on fees each year, so why it is such a problem for CAMRA I struggle to understand.
In this month’s issue of What’s Brewing, Colin Valentine, the CAMRA chairman, says “We are not a drinking club. We are not an appreciation society. We are a Campaign with a capital C.” But for many members the first two are precisely how they regard CAMRA. As I have described here, it has been extremely successful both in creating a social network of beer enthusiasts, and in promoting the appreciation of “quality” beer.
However, looking at the other side of the coin, in what campaign, as such, has CAMRA ever achieved success – setting aside the infamous Beer Orders which proved to be largely a disaster for the pub trade and the brewing industry?
It has also, of course, signally failed to campaign effectively, if at all, against the biggest legislative assault on pubs in its lifetime, not to mention doing little to confront the rise of the neo-Prohibitionists.
The question must be asked, what precisely, beyond the general appreciation of good beer and good pubs, is CAMRA campaigning for today? Possibly this is something that the current strategic review being carried out by ex-MP John Grogan will help to resolve, but don’t hold your breath.