Saturday, 28 June 2014

Preaching from a beer crate

This blog has now been going for seven years, and I make no apology in saying that the smoking ban was what prompted its creation and, while it has touched on many other issues, that has always remained its core theme.

As it says in the sidebar,:

This is not a beer blog. It's a view of life from the saloon bar, not entirely about the saloon bar - which of course is a metaphorical place as well as a physical one. It is as much about political correctness and the erosion of lifestyle freedom as it is about pubs and beer.
At that time I had never even heard of “beer blogs” and wasn’t aware there was anyone else blogging on the same kind of subject. It took a couple of years to feel I was part of a kind of wider community. I have always regarded this as basically a blog about lifestyle freedom viewed through the bottom of a beer glass, rather than a beer blog as such. I have commented freely on areas relating to diet, drugs and smoking as well as alcohol, but in general have steered clear of wider political issues. I haven’t banged on about defence, climate change, taxation or transport, although I have well-formed views on those subjects. Most of the members of the local branch of CAMRA have considerably more left-wing views than I do, but we still manage to get on amicably.

I have created a second blog to enable me to address these wider issues, but to be honest this has only been sporadically updated and has attracted little interest.

Pete Brown is a well-respected beer writer. I own a number of his books and have given a positive review to his cider book here. We’ve always known he’s a bit of a Leftie, but so long as that doesn’t become too predominant in his writing it’s something you can put up with. Indeed it is a sign of a good writer that you are able to write intelligently about your chosen subject without letting your political stance dominate.

However, he has really blotted his copybook with this highly partisan rant against UKIP. He hangs it on the argument that many innovations in British brewing would not have taken place without immigration, but in doing so deliberately and knowingly misrepresents UKIP policy. UKIP does not seek to ban all immigration, but simply to apply a quality threshold, as happens in countries like Australia and Canada. UKIP’s immigration policy would not have excluded any of those talented brewers.

I have to admit I made one or two intemperate comments in response to that post, for which I apologise. I should have kept a clearer head. But the post is basically dishonest.

As I have said on the other blog, I have a considerable amount of sympathy for UKIP, especially over their opposition to the smoking ban, but I am certainly not an uncritical supporter. However, there’s a good argument that UKIP is the one major political party that is really prepared to stand up for pubs.

But if the likes of Pete Brown are saying that any UKIP voter is somehow beyond the pale and not part of the political mainstream, they will ultimately diminish themselves. If you turn your beer blog into a political platform covering issues well beyond beer, pubs and brewing then you are likely to alienate many of your readers. Pete is fully entitled to his views, but they are out of place on a beer focused blog.

It would be interesting if Pete was prepared to run a poll on his blog about the political allegiance of his readers. He might find rather more UKIP supporters than he feels comfortable with.


  1. "Questioning someone's intelligence just because they disagree with you is a nasty, condescending, patronising gambit and makes the person doing it look lie a twat - not the person they're criticising" - Pete Brown

    "I do not believe that anyone thick enough to vote UKIP should not be allowed to vote. EVERYONE should vote. But it's so tempting..." - Pete Brown (@PeteBrownBeer)

    I like Pete Brown as much as it is possible to like some one you have never actually met but I find his rants against UKIP and supportters of UKIP quite puzzling. I don't vote myself but the UKIP voters I know are neither racist or thick.

  2. Professor Pie-Tin28 June 2014 at 22:56

    We don't see eye to eye all the time but on this one I'm in full agreement.
    I have no problem with Pete Brown introducing a tenuous link between immigration and brewing, even though the peg he hangs it on - Nigel Farage's love of a pint - is risible.
    But it's the familiar London Smuggerati canard that anyone who subscribes to UKIP's main political policies of controlled immigration and a withdrawal from the EU must therefore be sympathetic to sexist,racist and homophboic views which I found deeply offensive.
    Factor in his response that he couldn't give a rat's arse about the reasoned opposition to his views from regular readers of his blog just makes me think the little I have come to know of him through his writing has been profoundly wrong.
    Perhaps I'm mistaken in thinking a shared enjoyment of erudite and witty blogs about beer and pubs is a bit like having a chinwag among mates of differing political views down the local where everyone agrees to disagree.
    But his post about Farage,UKIP,immigration and the history of beer was the most depressing thing I've read in ages.

  3. I own a book called Map Addict by Mike Parker. I'm interested in maps and related subjects, and for the most part it's a fascinating and entertaining read. But he spoils it by introducing some snidey digs at UKIP, which are what I will always remember it for. Oh, and losing control of his bowels on Plynlimon.

  4. Professor Pie-Tin,
    When Pete Brown tweeted

    "I do not believe that anyone thick enough to vote UKIP should not be allowed to vote. EVERYONE should vote. But it's so tempting..." - Pete Brown (@PeteBrownBeer)

    I was quite suprised because tarring everyone with the same brush is the definition of discrimination. It can be put down to just tweeting/fever but when he then said "Questioning someone's intelligence just because they disagree with you is a nasty, condescending, patronising gambit and makes the person doing it look lie a twat - not the person they're criticising" he is basically saying that he him self is nasty, condescending and patronising by his own logic. But I don't think he is nasty, condescending and patronising, I just think he is conflating nationalism with racisim but why he is doing this ... I don't know.

  5. Professor Pie-Tin28 June 2014 at 23:25

    I've only lost control of my bowels once while on drink.
    It was on the dance floor of the Illawalla Country Club near Blackpool after 18 pints of Boddingtons.
    I say lost control but it was more of a nasty follow through while trying to let out a sneaky one as I danced energetically with a comely maid.
    Fortunately the record - Tiger Feet by Mud - ended within seconds so I was able to direct her to the bar to order me something off the top shelf while I sloped off to the jacks,cleaned up and deposited my fruity kecks in the cistern.
    Hours later as we disrobed together for the first time and she observed my commando state she uttered the immortal line " Ey, by 'eck, you're a dirty bastard but come over here and horse it into me anyway "
    I've a feeling I may have shared this tale once before on this or an associated blog but nearly four decades later it still makes me laugh.
    Think about it - 14 pints of Boddies and a few chasers and I still got a shag.
    Happy days.

  6. Actually from his books and most of his blog postings he comes across as guy you'd be happy to share a pint with. I like the way he's willing to challenge some beery sacred cows.

    Which is why I think that particular blogpost was a serious error of judgment.

    Of course, Chuka Umunna has recently made a fool of himself by accusing UKIP supporters of being thick and unable to use the internet.

  7. Professor Pie-Tin28 June 2014 at 23:30

    Christ, was it 14 or 18 pints ?
    And maybe it was " Ballroom Blitz " by Sweet.
    I'm losing my memory.
    It's a terrible thing.
    Thank goodness.

  8. And this article by Pete Brown makes the entirely reasonable point that most politicians' identification with pubs and beer is akin to that of Christmas-only drinkers.

    Oh, and Prof, you have shared that anecdote on here several times before.

  9. Professor Pie-Tin28 June 2014 at 23:36

    Poor Chuka.

    I did email him with a few salient points but so far no response.

  10. Professor Pie-Tin28 June 2014 at 23:40

    Apologies for sharing the incident several times.
    But that and taking a dump in Yoko Ono's bidet are virtually all I can remember from a lifetime in the entertainment business.

  11. I agree that intelligence has nothing to do with political allegiance - there have been plenty of highly intelligent racists over the years. But misrepresenting UKIP is misrepresenting a blank slate. Farage quite openly went into the last round of elections with one policy - withdrawal from the EU; everything else is up for grabs. (A newly-elected UKIP councillor near here was reported as saying he was leaving the party and sitting as an Independent; what he actually said was that UKIP didn't have any policies which were relevant to his role as a local councillor, so he was effectively an Independent.)

    Saying what UKIP really stands for is a bit like saying what the Lib Dems really stand for - all you've got to go on is what UKIP members and supporters have said in the past. And, let's face it, some of those UKIP members and supporters have said things which can only be classed as xenophobic, or even outright racist. If you're a UKIP supporter you'll say that's what they're really about - just as, if you were a Lib Dem, you'd say that some of their more cynical ways of winning votes aren't what they're really about. Seen from the outside, it doesn't necessarily look like that.

  12. Oops - obviously(?) that should have said

    "If you're a UKIP supporter you'll say that's not what they're really about"

  13. Professor Pie-Tin29 June 2014 at 11:13

    Hi Phil,
    The misconception that UKIP only has a single policy is really a combination of astute electioneering and a lazy media.
    UKIP went into the recent elections with a separate European and local manifesto.
    And if you were to visit its website you find the party has a whole raft of policies, many of which are shared by the LibLabCon.
    However, UKIP is aware that under the first past the post system it has no chance of becoming a Government but by concentrating on core issues such as controlled immigration and the EU in 30 or so seats it has a chance of holding the balance of power in a future government.
    Personally I think the Conservatives will win the next election based on the continued upsurge in the economy, Milibland is unelectable and the LibDems a busted flush after their U-turn over tuition fees.
    But who knows ? History has shown the next election may well come down to a handful of seats and a powerful UKIP campaign against the EU will mean Cameron won't be able to dodge his referendum pledge.
    But if the last election was anything to go by the combined Westminster and mainstream media effort to distort,insult and vilify UKIP will make it a very dirty campaign.
    Unfortunately Pete Brown thought his blogpost was clever - full of bon mots that would go down well at your average sandalista London dinner party.
    In fact it was lazy stereo-typing of exactly the sort he was railing against.
    Hopefully in time he'll come to realise that a wise man has something to say, a fool has to say something.

  14. And now we get a pub refusing to serve UKIP members.

    That's not very tolerant and inclusive, is it?

  15. PPT - I'm going on an interview with Farage published in the Graun in April:

    Farage point-blank refuses to specify a single Ukip policy before 22 May, other than withdrawal from Europe ("Oh, and bringing back grammar schools, you can have that")

    So, OK, two policies.

    Mudge - I would have thought that you'd approve of pubs having the discretion to refuse service to whoever they wanted.

  16. I can't say I've noticed that Pete Brown is particularly left wing, but I'm not a fan as I've always found his writing unconvincing. Better not say more because the last time I made a slight criticism of him on a blog, he told me quite firmly I was treading on very dangerous territory.

  17. A fact of life is that a person’s political perspective colours their world view and will influence what they write an all manner of subjects.

    Pete seems to wear his leftie “right on” credentials on his sleeve and part of that appears to be a lack of respect for those with a different world view. It seems to be a hangover from the 80's. Maggie won the argument and the left never forgave her. Were lefties insufferable & self-righteous before Maggie destroyed their arguments, credibility and electability? The facts of life are conservative, she said, and she proved it.

    As for whether the kippers are racists. I would say not. Do they contain nutters? More than the average party. They have moved exit from Europe to the centre of political discourse. In seeking greater popularity by adopting concerns over immigration they have a problem all parties that do this have. It isn’t racist to discuss immigration but a lot of racists want to discuss it. They are going to attract some peculiar people to their bandwagon.

    After 20 years of failure & in fighting, Nige and his gang are on the verge of achieving their aim. It would be a pity if they imploded yet again and let Ed deny us our referendum.

  18. PRofessor Pie-Tin30 June 2014 at 08:50

    Phil - can you recall what the LibLabCon policies were during the most recent elections,both local and European ?
    UKIP campaigned specifically on a withdrawal from Europe and controlled immigration - and did rather well with that tactic I'm sure you'll agree.
    The next general election will be fought differently with a full manifesto of policies ( the UKIP website has plenty of them ) to be launched in Milibland's Doncaster constituency in September.
    After the orchestrated and failed kicking the media tried to deliver to UKIP earlier this year you can hardly blame them for wanting to set their own agenda to win elections.


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