Election 2015

Politicians ‘pull the other one’ – down the pub

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Boris Johnson pulls the other one
Boris Johnson pulls the other one

Related tags Beer

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) received a big political boost today (May 1), as the top contenders for Prime Minister David Cameron and Ed Miliband both joined 1,000 other prospective MPs in pledging to support the pressure group’s campaigns.

Britain’s pub industry needed much more support – as 29 pubs closed each week – said CAMRA chief executive Tim Page. “We want to see the next government grant planning protection to all pubs in England, freeze beer duty for the whole parliament and support small cider producers,”​ said Page.

“We are pleased that in recent years parliament has listened to our concerns and made some positive steps towards growing the British beer industry,”​ he added. CAMRA claims to be Europe’s largest beer consumer group in Europe with more than 170,000 members.

Labour ‘leads the pack’

While CAMRA has no political affiliation, it claimed Labour was “leading the pack”,​ as the most pub and beer friendly party. So far, 292 election candidates had pledged ‘Support well-run community pubs’, ‘Promote Britain’s 1,300 breweries’ and ‘Represent pub goers and beer drinkers’.

Ranking the parties in terms of their support for CAMRA campaigns, the pressure group listed the Green Party in second place, with 264 candidates backing the campaigns, followed by the Liberal Democrats, with 225 candidates and the Conservatives in fourth place with 160 prospective MPs.

Despite the famously pro-pub Nigel Farage, leader of United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP), pledging support, his party was in fifth position with 118 candidates agreeing to support CAMRA campaigns.

Who's backing beer?

  1. Labour: 292 candidates
  2. Greens: 264 candidates
  3. Liberal Democrats: 225
  4. Conservatives: 160
  5. UKIP: 118 candidates 

10,000 emails to candidates

The pledges of support followed CAMRA’s plan to encourage its members to send 10,000 emails to candidates inviting them to back community pubs and real ale. “Whatever the election result next Thursday, we can be assured there will be MPs fighting our corner,”​ said Page.

Meanwhile, leading politicians have written to the pressure group underlining their support. Labour leader Miliband pledged in a letter to CAMRA: “In government, we will ensure that the new Pubs Code has teeth and give communities the power to protect their local pubs and other cherished establishments from being bought up and turned into supermarkets – a fate that has affected two pubs a week in recent years – by allowing local authorities to determine development rules and changes to the permitted ‘uses’ of buildings locally.”

Conservative Party leader David Cameron wrote promising a future Conservative government would “extend the length of time communities have to purchase these assets ​[pubs] and require owners to set a clear ‘reserve’ price for the community to aim for when bidding. We will also set up a Pub Loan Fund to enable community groups to obtain small loans.”

Cameron also said Conservatives believed pubs were “at the heart of communities, supporting local jobs and boosting the local economy” ​and played a crucial role in the social and economic life of the nation.

What the other parties say:

  • Liberal Democrats’ manifesto pledged to “protect community assets like pubs by bringing forward Community Right to Buy. We will ensure planning permission is required to convert a pub into alternative uses”.
  • UKIP manifesto commits the party to: “offer tax breaks to smaller breweries to encourage micro-breweries”​ and “keep the current excise duty scheme that exempts from duty cider and perry made by small domestic producers​”.
  • Green Party leader Natalie Bennett: “I'm supporting CAMRA's manifesto for pubs and real ale, as is the whole Green Party.”

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