Good news from the BBPA: more than a hundred MPs have signed an early day motion supporting the ‘axe the beer tax – save the pub’ campaign, launched by CAMRA and the BBPA last year and covered by me quite vociferously at the time.
This signals a growing widespread view that the plan to continue to tax the living daylights out of beer at a time when pretty much every other sector of the economy is receiving financial aid is simply not acceptable.
A press release from the BBPA yesterday also states proudly that 10,000 people have written to their MP about the issue, and 20,000 have signed the online petition and joined the Facebook group.
This pretty lady has shown her support. Why haven’t you?
Nuts and Zoo fixture Jennifer Ellison at the campaign launch
To put that 20,000 into context, the Top Gear Appreciation Group has 238,907 members. The group ‘If 500,000 join this group I will change my middle name to Facebook’ has 172,371 members.
If 100 out of 646 MPs have expressed support, that means 15% of all MPs have done something. If every single person who signed up so far was a member of CAMRA (they’re not) then that would still mean that only 20% of CAMRA members have signed up. Fifteen million people go to the pub at least once a week. That means 0.13% of pub goers have signed up.
I’m pleased the campaign has made a dent on public consciousness, but really this isn’t good enough. A quick google search reveals that coverage of the campaign consists almost entirely of blogs and trade press sites, with the occasional hit from the Wigan Weekly Post or Huddersfield Examiner. As far as I can see the only national paper to have ever mentioned it is the Daily Star, and in that piece Jen’s breasts (above) loomed more largely than anything else.
Do we want to save our pubs or not? The fact that one in six MPs have signed the early day motion shows the will is there to get something done. The fact that probably a significantly smaller proportion of CAMRA members have signalled their support is deeply disturbing.
I’m not picking on CAMRA (again) – it’s just that of all the people who claim to care about the preservation of their local, this group is supposedly the epicentre. And CAMRA co-organised the campaign. Every member gets regular updates from the organisation – there’s no excuse for them not to know about it.
CAMRA itself represents only a minority of cask ale lovers – an estimated 7 million regular cask ale drinkers versus CAMRA’s membership of 97,000. You can only get cask ale in pubs. Do 6.98 million cask ale drinkers – 99.7% of them – not give a shit that their pubs might close, thereby denying them the chance to drink cask ale?
Beer sales are at their lowest for seven years. They fell by 10% in the last quarter of last year alone. And beer drinkers – beer fans, beer aficionados – seemingly couldn’t give a fuck.
If you know someone who likes going to the pub and enjoys drinking beer, get them to sign up. Let’s see if we can get more people motivated to try to save the pub with no more than a simple mouse click than there are members of ‘If it’s not from Yorkshire it’s shite‘ (76,922 members). On the other hand, that is a group I need to join. But then, that’s so easy to do.