Thursday 26 January 2012

The hubris of CAMRA

Dick Puddlecote has the story of the Campaign for Real Ale's latest head-in-the-sand efforts to save the great "community pub". You know a place is in trouble when people start putting the word "community" in front of it (see also "community Post Office"). Pub closures peaked at 52 a week in the second year of the smoking ban and the rate is now a still-worrying 16 a week.

In an expensive-looking report, the Real Ale Twats have found a correlation between smoking rates and pub closures, but choose not to draw any policy conclusions from this. Instead, they play their usual game of blaming supermarkets for selling cheap alcohol (which was being sold cheaply before the smoking ban) and pleading for tax cuts and special favours (which they didn't need before the smoking ban). The one piece of government action that could make people actually want to go to pubs again does not get a look in (the Morning Advertiser—trade mag to the pub trade—doesn't even mention the ban in its report).

Perhaps CAMRA still believes in its own self-deluding pre-ban propaganda, of which Dick has unearthed a beautiful example...


CAMRA is urging publicans to prepare for a boost in demand for real ales following the banning of smoking in all pubs in England from 1 July this year.

And pub goers will now be able to savour the flavour of real cask ales as the fog of tobacco smoke is finally blown out of pubs and bars throughout the UK.

In Wales, CAMRA reported a boost in demand for real ale after the earlier ban of smoking there from 1 April.

...The research also indicated that after the smoking ban over 6 million pub goers in England and Wales expect to visit pubs more often and 840000 people who never go to pubs said they will do after the ban. And 68% of smokers said the ban will not affect their pub going habits, with only 3% of adults saying that they would not visit pubs as a result of the ban.

Paul Moorhouse continued: ‘We expect a minority of smokers to be put off going to the pub. But this will be offset by more use of pubs by others who will welcome the smoke-free environment. And with over two thirds of real ale drinkers being non-smokers, we expect it to be real ale that will benefit the most from this new trade. Any pubs that do not offer real ale are encouraged to stock one to attract this new clientele.’

Peace in our time, CAMRA?

The Pub Curmudgeon and The View from Cullingworth have more to say about CAMRA's uselessness.


Curmudgeon said...

And here's an example of real ale being associated with unruly behaviour (although tbh I suspect most of what is being complained about is just the usual rowdy lads' and girls' nights out)

Rob said...

Fat twTs with beards boring the arse off everyone else. Also dubious personal hygiene in many cases.

Real ale can be fantastic, but ironically the image of Camra members is possibly the biggest problem it has.

Joe Jackson said...

Before the smoking ban there was a LOT of debate about it within CAMRA. I was a member at the time (had been for 20 years, despite being non-bearded) and was in touch with them a lot, I also wrote a piece against the ban for their monthly paper. But they also published e.g. a pro-ban article and letters from ASH. I strongly suspect they were targeted by an ASH letter-writing & PR campaign. Anyway there were people opposed to a ban within CAMRA but they were overruled and actually silenced by some of the 'top people' and I believe that now, having cast their lot with the Antis, they are too embarrassed to admit they were wrong. I resigned my membership when the ban was passed and their paper came out with the headline 'Relief over smoking ban!' They seem to have forgotten their original purpose - to promote free choice for both publicans and customers, including minorities (they say most real ale drinkers don't smoke, but they don't say that there are more smokers than there are real ale drinkers). I agree that CAMRA is now pretty much useless . . . they have become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

John M said...

Frankly I'm amazed that you can get CAMRA to produce a position or statement at all.

Every CAMRA event I've been to has just been full of people who clearly drink too much ale getting about the business of drinking too much ale. I've yet to meet a CAMRA member who cares about anything other than that.

Anonymous said...

So they are complaining about supermarkets selling 'cheap' booze? Is the cheap booze which supermarkets sell real ale? And if it is, shouldn't camra be really pleased? Who needs pubs in order to drink real ale?

Anonymous said...

From Dave Atherton.

In 2004 they were sound.

"CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, expresses concern that the smoking ban will be divisive for community pubs. Community pubs will face the stark choice of tearing up their food menus or alienating regulars by banning smoking.

CAMRA calls on the Government to allow pubs where there are two or more entirely separate rooms to allow smoking in one, while other rooms where food is served are made smoke free.

Mike Benner, Chief Executive of CAMRA, raised concerns about the proposals

Anonymous said...

From Dave Atherton.

Real ale alone does not support a pub.

"A year on from smoking ban in England and Wales the volume of beer sold in pubs is down by 8%. The impact of the smoking ban, the promotion of cheap supermarket alcohol and economic uncertainty mean that many pubs are under pressure. During 2007 CAMRA found that 57 pubs a month were bulldozed or converted into other uses.

Among this doom and gloom there is reason to be optimistic about real ale sales and by extension about the future of pubs that serve good quality real ale. Pub chain JD Wetherspoons has reported that in the wake of the smoking ban real ale sales are up and leading real ale brewer Greene King has reported a 6% increase in their beer volumes.

These figures reflect a general optimism in the industry that real ale volumes could be about to return to growth. It also reflects figures release by CAMRA in early 2007 that reported that only 25% of real ale drinkers smoke compared to 43% of lager drinkers.”

Anonymous said...

From DA.

Millions will return to the Pub after Smoking Ban - 20/02/07

"A new survey by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has revealed the public's attitudes to the forthcoming smoking ban in England and Wales later in 2007.

The sample survey's key findings indicated that:

6.2 million people (17% of all adults in England and Wales) who visit pubs regularly are likely to visit pubs more often. Of that group 97% were non-smokers.

840,000 people who currently never go to a pub said they will after the smoking ban. Added to the figure for people who currently visit regularly that is a total of 7,040,000 people who will visit pubs more often.

93% of real ale drinkers said they would be more likely to visit pubs more often or that their visiting habits would not be changed by the ban. See table 1.

68% of regular smokers say it will not change their pub visiting habits at all.

69% of all adults said it would not affect their visits to pubs at all, only 3% said they would not visit pubs at all as a result of the ban.

Smokers are typically lager drinkers (43% of lager drinkers said they smoke). See table 2

CAMRA Chief Executive Mike Benner said: “This survey shows that non-smokers will be attracted to pubs after the ban comes into force, and many of them would like to find a real ale waiting for them when they get there.

“The smoking ban will be a difficult transition for licensees, but it is encouraging that only 3% of people surveyed by CAMRA said they would not visit pubs at all as a result of the ban. The key will be to ensure that other factors such as quality of real ale, food, atmosphere and welcome are all superb. If this is the case then the traditional Community Pub will have a bright and healthy future.”

Anonymous said...

Which just goes to show the utter uselessness of surveys.