Friday 27 February 2015

Killed by red tape

In this blogpost, Christopher Snowdon publishes the text of a speech he gave to the Future Pubs conference. In it, he mounts a trenchant attack on the view that increased market regulation and planning controls will benefit the pub trade and keep more pubs open – something I have often argued on here in the past. He concludes:

If you believe, against all evidence and experience, that more government is the solution, then you will continue to get more government and you will get it good and hard.
Go and read the whole thing and see what you think. I made the point on Twitter that it’s interesting how the anti-pub anti-pubco lobby never seem to be up to challenging his arguments. So if you have a comment to make, please make it there rather than here.


  1. I could only comment on his blog to agree with him. However an interesting question might be better directed at you rather than him.

    I would estimate that society has generally moved to the right politically over recent decades as people live more individualistic lives and rely less on communal provision and protection.

    As a long standing beardy beard club walla yourself, why is it that the beard club has largely attracted activists with a left wing anti market viewpoint? Was it ever thus? Has it moved over time?

    Even the Labour party has shifted right over the last 40 years to accept the post Thatcher market, yet the beards still seem to think the state can create a pub utopia.

    I am only capable of commenting on what I have observed over a short time, not enough to understand it, whereas I gather you're more a year dot sort of beardy with a longer view.

  2. As you know, the only reasons I remain active in CAMRA are that it is a sociable drinking club for us more mature people and it contains some nice people, even if they are Lefties.

    It's certainly true that, over the years, CAMRA (or at least the profile of its activists) has moved leftwards. There used to be a substantial "saloon bar" element that has msotly gone now. You and I are about the only "out" right-wingers in our branch.

    However, as I said on Chris' blog, the pubco and planning reform campaign gains virtually no traction on the ground. Why campaign to save some grotty keg estate pub when there's a new grapefruit-flavoured beer being launched at the Manger?

  3. Not meaning to be rude, but if you don't want anyone to comment here (but rather, there), why did you blog this at all?

  4. Not meaning to be rude, but why do you continue to comment here if you have such an antagonistic attitude?

    And, rather obviously, I blogged this because I wanted to draw people's attention to an important article.

    I've said in the past that blogging has been undermined by Twitter, so I'm trying to reverse that by making brief blogposts about interesting pieces I've seen.

  5. I didn't think I was being antagonistic. Don't have a hissy fit.

  6. The second and third of Conquest's Laws of politics appear to be in operation...

    2.Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.
    3.The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.

  7. CAMRA always was a left-wing organisation, of the green/localist/conservationist wing of the Left - look at the proposal, early on, to adopt the name of "Beer Drinkers' Union"! Whether this means believing that "the state will create a pub utopia" I'll leave to experts on the Left like Mudge and Cookie.

  8. And, for what it's worth, it strikes me that the real ale scene has seen just as much of a drift towards the free market right as the rest of society - look at Tim Martin. Or Mudge, for that matter.

  9. This is all very interesting but much more fun is serial negative miserabilist py going into total meltdown on Zythophile's blog...head on over.

  10. Well yeh, Phil. Seems to me much of the beer scene is down to what us Thatcherites like to call entrepreneurs, people that invested their life in small business, whether brewery or pub, to bring to market what they thought punters would pay for, as it is ever was an active club of consumers shouting about what they wanted.

    I’m not dismissing CAMRA influence, I think it has been effective in vocalising what a lot of consumers want that they were not getting, and showing the market that there are paying customers for pongy beer, but the beer scene itself is as much about enterprise and capitalism as it is a bunch of beardy socialists with a fondness for Morris dancing and twiggy beer.

    Having seen the renaissance in beer, the role the market has played in it, why concentrate a campaign on supply side regulation to restrict property rights? Surely they want more investors to gamble their money and life’s work rather than regulate a market out of existence?

    Sadly Mudge had the observation but not the explanation, as to why CAMRA is of greater appeal to the Guardian reader than the Telegraph reader. It is democratic, and does what the members want; it is just that the members want a socialist beer revolution.

  11. I think I'd rather comment here, thanks.

    Don't forget you provide a public service Mudgie. This is the big community, we're all in it together.

  12. Blimey 'property rights'! As I see it 'human rights' is a load of bollocks so I can't imagine what property rights is. 'Dear person with power don't oppress my house'?

  13. I can't comment/see comments on the linked blog. Good article. Agree with it. I'm wary of the current raft of CAMRA pub-related policies.

  14. Hmm, I can see comments clearly both on PC and phone. What platform and browser are you using?

    I wrote the following:

    "FWIW I don't think that this pubs campaigning resonates at all with most CAMRA members on the ground who recognise that most of the pubs that have closed didn't really have much of a future anyway, even if they held fond memories, and trying to save them would be an exercise in flogging dead horses."

    I can't really think of a single example of a pub in this area that might have been saved by stricter planning controls.

  15. IE11 - works okay in Chrome. Your comment above is spot on.

  16. The only point of Snowdon's I'd take issue with is his conclusion, quoted in your post: "If you believe, against all evidence and experience, that more government is the solution, then you will continue to get more government and you will get it good and hard."

    Thing is, if you don't believe in more government you still get it regardless.

  17. Have a look at this


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