The IPPR think-tank has recently published a report entitled Pubs and Places: the social value of community pubs, which attacks the government for adopting a one-size-fits-all approach to pubs through regulation and tax and warns community pubs could disappear altogether. Fair enough, you might think, although as Simon Clark points out here it is strangely quiet on the single biggest factor leading pubs to close.
Also, no surprise to see Mike Benner of CAMRA lending his support to the report, but who’s this alongside him, none other than the unfortunately-named Don Shenker of our favourite fakecharity Alcohol Concern. He says:
Community pubs perform a valuable social function and are frequently the cornerstone of rural life, providing safe and friendly drinking environments. Such pubs are often excellent examples of responsible drinks retailing.That sounds like something of a Damascene conversion as I had always thought Alcohol Concern was essentially an anti-drink pressure group. In reality, this is just a cynical policy stance aimed at playing divide and rule with drinkers and the drinks industry. I’m not saying that they are all prohibitionists as such, but their fundamental agenda is to reduce alcohol consumption, increase prices and restrict availability.
If they had their way, there would be a damn sight fewer pubs than there are at the moment. In even the best-run community pub you will see plenty of people drinking more than four alcohol units at a sitting and a fair number becoming distinctly merry by the end of the evening, activities which no doubt Mr Shenker would look upon with flinty disapproval.
At moments like this, you sometimes can’t help wondering whether CAMRA has somehow been infiltrated by anti-drink pressure groups who have now worked their way up to the high command of the organisation and are intent on slowly destroying everything it has ever achieved. I hope Mike Benner has a very long spoon – he’s going to need it.