Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Save Our Pubs and Clubs

There was encouraging news today that a campaign group called Save Our Pubs and Clubs has been launched to press for an amendment to the smoking ban. This combines politicians – including Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats and UKIP – with licensed trade representatives and other interested parties.

Since the ban, over 3,500 pubs have closed in England and Wales, and many more will inevitably give up the unequal struggle and go the same way over the next few years. Despite the claims (with hindsight, utterly ludicrous) of its supporters that the ban would bring lots of new customers into pubs, in reality the effect of being forced to treat half their customers like lepers was wholly predictable. Trade, especially in the smaller, more traditional community pubs and social clubs, has fallen off a cliff.

But this campaign isn’t about forcing anyone to go into area where smoking is permitted, merely to allow that as a choice for pubs and clubs in part of their premises if they want to take it up.

With over half of the House of Commons after the next general election likely to be newly-elected members, this is an unparalleled opportunity for those who wish to help the licensed trade and support genuine choice to make their voice heard and seek to influence the outcome.

Now let’s see whether CAMRA will be prepared to add its weight to this campaign. Because CAMRA is of course in favour of saving pubs and clubs. Isn’t it?

18 comments:

  1. Oh wow! Killer denouement. :-)

    Great summary, PC. I was at the launch today and there were indeed all those parties represented. It's a common sense initiative so, as you picked out, let's hope the new intake of MPs next year have a good think about it.

    There has been too much blinkered (and ultimately damaging for pubs) thinking since 2007.

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  2. The encouraging thing about this is that everyone with an interest in the issue has got together under the umbrella of a single campaign.

    Previously we had various groups speaking out about it from differing perspectives but a lack of a unified voice.

    Now to find a Joanna Lumley-type frontperson ;-)

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  3. Im quite hopeful with this initiative as it features cross party representation however i wouldnt hold out to much hope on CAMRA joining in.

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  4. Camra are great when it becomes to real ale promotion, festivals, and general awareness. I even joined myself. However, on pub houses, they have failed. They will continue to fail until they recognise the importance that the drinking classes attach to pub houses. Agreeing with the smoking ban was a failure. Also, an ignorance of the family unit as central to communities is another great lacking.

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  5. I'm afraid that I for one hopes that the smoking ban lasts forever.

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  6. Do you frequent ALL pubs, Paul? Do you speak for ALL publicans?

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  7. It seems to me that some people have such a dog-in-the-manger attitude that they would prefer closed pubs to ones in which smoking was permitted, even in a separate room that they never needed to visit.

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  8. Ah, the old smoking chestnut. It seems to me that Camra haven't "failed" over the smoking issue. When a ban was looking likely, the leadership's prefered option was some sort of partial ban and that was the official line. However, feedback from the membership was overwhelmingly in favour of a total ban and so the position changed. Isn't that how democracy is supposed to work?

    It is quite amusing that the pro-smoking lobby berate Camra for its opposition-they've obviously got it wrong. However, I can't help but feel that if Camra were opposed to the ban, their opposition would be used as evidence by pro-smokers as to the ban's foolhardiness.

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  9. Dick, no, and no. I just want to be sure that if I go into a pub it's not going to be polluted with cigarette smoke. I'd rather see pubs close than lift the smoking ban.

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  10. Paul, that really is the most intolerant dog-in-the-manger bigotry. "I don't like X, so I don't think anyone else should be allowed to do it either, even if it doesn't affect me in the slightest." That really is on a par with the people who think homosexual sex should be banned, even if they never see it.

    So even if smoking "in public" was only allowed in private licensed clubs that you would never have cause to visit, you would still oppose it?

    It really would be richly ironic if a few pubs close to your heart closed their doors because of the ban...

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  11. I don't have a problem with homosexual sex. Hang on let's put that another way I have no problem with anyone who wants to practice homosexual sex but I have little desire to watch, and I'm not sure any sexual act in a public place is a good thing. What people do in private is another matter. I would have no problem with a private smokers co-operative club run by the members on a non-profit basis, but I won't be campaigning for it.

    It is so nice that we no longer have smoke in public leisure and entertainment places. The ban didn't come as a surprise so it should not be the excuse for pub closures. I'm sure that stake makers had a really tough time when we stopped burning witches but no sane person would advocate the return of the practice. Adapt or die should be the mantra of all businesses, as nothing stands still. The smoking ban happened let's put it to bed and get a life!

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  12. Thanks for confirming your selfishness so readily, Paul. Thought it might take a couple of follow up questions, but you saved me the trouble. Cheers. :-)

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  13. Pro-smokers addressing selfishness? Funny, pot & kettle spring to mind!

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  14. Tyson,

    Describing those who believe in freedom and choice as "pro-smokers" is distinctly disingenuous.

    You don't have to support something, or be in favour of it, to believe it shouldn't be banned. Indeed an underlying principle of liberty is that people should be free to do things that you personally find distasteful.

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  15. Well I would argue that using the term "pro-choice" is very misleading and a clever game of semantics that the anti-abortion crowd are famously good at playing. So I choose to keep it simple-you support smoking in pubs so you are pro-smoking. Trying to dress it up as some sort of liberty issue is simply, er, a smoke screen.

    I agree that it's a cornerstone of liberty that people are free to do things that I might not personally agree with-that's why I support freedom of speech and the decrimilisation of many so called criminal activities. However, there's a world of difference between private and public liberty.

    Lets not even mention the contentious health angle-lets keep it easy. I'm in favour of any activity in the pub as long as it doesn't cause inconvenience to other drinkers. Because that is the main purpose of a pub-drinking-something pro-smokers seem to ignore. It's not smoking which is at least (if not more) a nuisance to other drinkers. I find it amusing when I hear people aren't going to the pub because they can't smoke. What's wrong with dominoes???

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  16. Surely it is pro-abortion campaigners who claim to be "pro-choice".

    As said before, a point you have conveniently ignored, surely an underlying principle of liberty is that people should be free to do things that you personally find distasteful.

    Ever heard of the Spanner case?

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  17. Paul Garrard said: "I would have no problem with a private smokers co-operative club run by the members on a non-profit basis, but I won't be campaigning for it."

    Hmm, I suspect if that came in, such establishments would rapidly wipe the floor with conventional pubs, and plenty of wet-led pubs would convert to the club model. That's why they won't allow it, of course - the authorities are frightened of the truth that over half of pub drinkers were smokers and the vast majority of the rest weren't bothered by smoky atmospheres.

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  18. Pro-smokers addressing selfishness? Funny, pot & kettle spring to mind!.

    Tyson: If you can find me ever stating that I'd like to see pubs go out of business if they don't fit my personal preferences, then your comparison is valid, but I think you'll find it difficult to do so. In fact, I've always argued passionately for all pubs to stay open. And yes, that involves 'choice' for the owner as well as the customer, so that addresses the pro-choice argument too.

    There is only one side of the tobacco control debate which looks kindly on the culling of licenced premises, and you know which side that is.

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