Monday, 7 May 2012

Land of delusion

Many years ago we had Ted Bruning, then the editor of the CAMRA newspaper What’s Brewing, as the speaker at our local branch anniversary meal. He was probably the best speaker we’ve ever had, inspiring, amusing, and putting across a clear passion for pubs and beer.

So it’s disappointing in the extreme to see him now peddling this deluded drivel in the publication he once edited, suggesting that different parts of the drinks industry should be at each other’s throats. Spirits duty is already 37% higher than beer duty per alcohol unit. The anti-drink lobby will be chortling into their sarsaparilla. It’s not unlike the oft-heard moans from some brewers that cider duty is too low.

And to say that CAMRA should “form a united front” with Alcohol Concern beggars belief. Don’t you realise, Ted, that these people, despite their weasel words, at heart hate pubs and hate the brewing industry? Pretty much all “community pubs” depend for their survival on “binge drinkers”.

How many times does it have to be said – unless the alcohol industry presents a united front, lager and keg beer alongside real ale, spirits and wine alongside beer, off-trade alongside on-trade, it will be defeated? Every internal squabble just aids the opposition.

It’s often said “there’s no fool like an old fool.” And, sadly, Ted, you are that old fool.

The photo accompanying the article is also just a tad out of date.


  1. Hahahahaha! A booze lover talking of joining forces with Alcohol Concern? That's the funniest thing I've read this year, in fact I don't think it'll be beaten.

    Err, who does he think is behind all the tax increases on beer? Good gold-bricking grief!

  2. Good lord!

    A CAMRA person with a beard!?

    Now I've seen it all.

  3. So CAMRA supported the ban on smoking in pubs and are now supporting a ban on drinking in them too? Well, it's their pub, I don't go there any more so they can do what they like with it.

    As for pub food, well Jamie Bloody Oliver will soon put a stop to that. Soon pubs will serve water and tofu, and then the Campaign for Real Tofu will no doubt get that banned too.

    I'll stick with my alternative arrangements, I think, and antismoking drinkers can work out their own.

  4. CAMRA has become a laughing stock.

  5. Hilarious stuff.

    The policies of your beard club Mudge suggest there are more nutters like Ted, than nutters like you, though.

  6. hmmm don't know if this will be a double post ... blogger doing strange things today ...

    So Ted quite happy to see a further depletion of the 400,000+ jobs in UK that the pub and brewing sector supports?

    Not renewing CAMRA membership until the likes of Ted either retire or park it

  7. Ted and the other Hop sniffing Gnomes of CAMRA require an urgent stuffing with used hops and placing at intervals around Hebden Bridge or
    some similar forsaken wacko hamlet

    Just how long are the members of this silly billy outfit going to
    tolerate such barminess

    Biffo the Bear

  8. Calm down, doesn't be tearing up your beard club cards just yet. Think of the Spoons tokens!

    Nutters like Ted are still stuck in a 1970's world where if you are not drinking real ale, then you are necking something else and as you could be necking real ale you should be necking it because by not necking it you are harming it. Down with anything not real ale! Kicking anything not real ale must by definition help it, surely?

    We all know the world isn't like that. You can enjoy many things. A glass of wine, a can of lager, a pint of pongy muck with twigs in. A glass of wine with a romantic meal and a go on the missus isn't a substitute for a pint & a game of darts in a proper pub. We know they are 2 distinct things and that one can enjoy both. A balanced life involves a bit of both and a bit of the other. Pity those whose lives are so one dimensional that the world is either black or white.

    Then take your beard club cards and go demand it also campaigns for cheap grog of any kind! Outnumber the Teds!

  9. Thanks to Curmudgeon for his reasoned, balanced, and deeply-considered response to my opinion piece in What's Brewing on the narrowing differential in duty between beer and spirits. I should just point out to his legion of equally intellectual followers (who appear to have read the piece as carefully and thoughtfully as Curmudgeon himself) that I don't hold any office within CAMRA and haven't worked for the organisation for over 5 years: the opinion is mine and mine alone. And I'd like to conclude by saying that it's so easy and so pleasurable to reduce Curmudgeon to his characteristic state of rabid, inchoate, mouth-foaming, gibbering, half-witted rage that I look forward to the opportunity of doing it again and again until the myocardial infarction he so richly deserves finally arrives. As for the rest of you: bite me, you feeble-minded daily Express readers!

  10. Howay Ted, it's one thing being a little disrespectful towards the "deluded drivel" you publish with the Campaign against anything not real ale, it's another thing to say someone deserves a heart attack. It's not nice, pal. Chill out with a few cans of Stella, buddy.

    Is the Daily Express worse or better than the Daily Mail?

  11. Well, your article says that, between 2000 and 2011, spirits duty increased by 31%, and beer duty by 36%, which isn't really a dramatic turnaround. Plus, as I said, spirits duty is still 37% higher than beer duty per alcohol unit.

    Don't forget that Diageo and others have been arguing that duties should be equalised across all drinks categories.

    And I hardly think either the government or the anti-drink lobby are going to be convinced by CAMRA and others crying into their beer and saying "it was those nasty big Scottish and Russian boys wot done it".

  12. The Daily Express is the old people's right wing newspaper.

  13. A sharp increase in spirit duty, rather than lower the harm caused by alcohol, will most probably result in even more illegal stills. As the Sun reported last week, this is becoming a significant problem.

  14. C, your article seems perfectly sensible and realistic to me. That's just how things are with do-gooders.

  15. Hahahaha! The comeback is even funnier! How does he type in a straitjacket? ;)

  16. I think Ted's entitled to wish a heart attack on someone, since he's just recovering from one himself.

    He's also written very good histories of both lager and cider, so he's hardly a pongy beer totalist

  17. Well, the thrust of my post is not that I think Ted is an utter arse, but that it's a shame that someone I once respected has fallen to making common cause with the anti-drink lobby.

    And if he had lost a child to cancer, would that give him the right to wish the same misfortune on others?

  18. Is an "old fool" less bad then than an "utter arse"?

    If Ted has been unwell I wish him all the best in his recovery. Still think he talks shite, like.

  19. Yes, Cookie, it's considerably more charitable to call someone a fool rather than a knave.

  20. Oh dear, someone's cage has been rattled, or does the truth hurt?

    Sad to see someone I once respected as a beer writer stoop to the level of describing his critics as "feeble-minded Daily Express readers"; to say nothing of the venom he reserves for poor Curmudgeon!

  21. It's a sad day when the same readers of this blog find themselves defending you, but we live in strange times:)

    Of course Ted is entitled to his opinion, but you are correct in your analysis. United we stand, divided we fall and all of that. It is somewhat saddening when people who should know better get it so wrong.

  22. Yes, and I have no qualms about saying that any member of CAMRA, or self-proclaimed "beer lover", who advocates making common cause with Alcohol Concern, on anything, is a fool.

  23. SIBA have taken Alcohol Concern as an associate member and now CAMRA have given space to the idea that they should join forces with the prohibitionists too? Remind me again why I pay my subs each year?

    No, no, no and no again.

    Any campaign should be to reduce alcohol duty across the board, to remove government interference in the industry and to reduce regulation and bureaucracy so that brewers can get on with doing what they do best.

  24. You have no qualms about, and indeed seem to relsih, lobbing any form of criticism, no matter how strained or manufactured, in CAMRA's direction.

  25. I don't regard CAMRA as beyond criticism, and if it has embarked on a course that in the long term is likely to prove detrimental to its objectives I am perfectly entitled to point that out.

    And it would seem I'm far from the only CAMRA member who believes that stirring up division within the drinks trade is counter-productive, and that it is naive in the extreme to believe that any common cause can be made with the anti-drink lobby.

    And do you think it's remotely acceptable to be wishing heart attacks on other people?

  26. I don't think CAMRA is beyond criticism at all - it's just that at times you do seem to go out of you way to criticise CAMRA and/or its members.

    And as for Ted's jibe at you - if you're going to dish it out you've got to learn to take it - but it seems you're not so keen on that are you? Typical keyboard warrior.

  27. "it's just that at times you do seem to go out of you way to criticise CAMRA and/or its members."

    Hmm, of 52 posts going back to the beginning of March, only 8 mention CAMRA at all, and some of those, such as the ones about Hydes, and what value an entry in a guide brings to a pub, are not in any way critical.

    "if you're going to dish it out you've got to learn to take it"

    Absolutely, and if people want to call me "deluded", or "a fool", or "a wanker", or "a Daily Express reader", it's all water off a duck's back. Expressing the wish that I have a heart attack is in a completely different league of nastiness, though.

  28. I say the following with a great deal of respect towards CAMRA and its members. It has successfully campaigned for the traditional beers of our island which are in greater health than when it started. This adds to the choice available and enhances the drinking experiences of people that were a glimpse in their fathers eye when the campaign was set up.

    It does often appear to be a campaign against other drinks and reflect many irrational prejudices of some though not all of its members. This ought to be criticised. I like mockery too.

    The point at which CAMRA is not criticised is the point at which it is an irrelevance. With success comes scrutiny.

    Oh and the unusual beard & sandals attire of some of its members is funny and will always be so even if those members are nice decent people.

    I would agree with John in so far that if you are a member of an organisation and you believe remaining a member has merit though you think it is heading in the wrong direction it is beholden on you to be active in attempting to change that direction. If you believe it beyond the ability to change, it is time to leave.

    As for wishing ill health on people. You are all boozers and have shortened your time on this ball of dirt. It will come regardless of who wishes it on whom.

  29. Yes Mudgie - but there are also the comments you liberally spray across the blogosphere, too. It all adds up, you know.

  30. With CAMRA, as with many similar organisations, most people probably sign up because of a warm fuzzy feeling about the subject covered rather than from a detailed examination of the official policies.

  31. Spirit duty is 37% higher than beer duty per unit, however the per-unit cost of spirit production (especially vodka and gin) is a vanishing fraction of the cost of beer production.

    It isn't "attacking" other parts of the drinks industry to expect that duty should be set with one eye on the costs of production.

    Levelling duty across all alcohol types would lead to gin being virtually the only drink sold -- encouraging the sale of strong alcohol is exactly the opposite of what duty is intended to do, and it isn't "attacking" other parts of the industry to recognise that.

    Personally I'd like to see duty be based on quality of ingredients. We already have some "ciders" classified as made wine if they don't contain sufficient apple juice. I'd much rather see "beers" made with a significant amount of cheap adjuncts charged a higher rate of duty than all-grain beer than try to improve beer's lot by harming spirit's.

  32. More special pleading, I'm afraid, Owen - "I want the things I like to be taxed less".


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