Sunday, 8 March 2009

CAMRA: Will They Wake Up In Time?

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) are running a campaign to save pubs. Whilst we all wish them well, when are they going to realise that this is a real battle, and that they are, thus far, about as useful as a plastic sword against a tank.

The graph above shows the gut-wrenching naiveté of these (admittedly well-meaning) guys. Times Lab were confused by the differing stats from pub-lovers and did a little investigation.

CGA’s figures (commissioned by the BBPA) differ markedly from CAMRA’s - the Campaign for Real Ale (shown above in green), but by CAMRA’s own admission, its survey hasn’t been going as long, isn’t as formal, and relies on reports from volunteers at its 200 branches around the country.

Relies on reports from volunteers? How scientific is that? Alcohol Concern is government funded, they will be looking at CAMRA and laughing their righteous socks off. AC have figures coming out of their ears, CAMRA have a load of guys in sweaters. Who were wrong. They are toast.

None of this is a surprise seeing as CAMRA rolled over and died at the mere whiff of a smoking ban. Their considered and intensive research was that their volunteers thought it was OK as long as they got their Old Peculiar from the old peculiar barmaid. Nothing to see here, and the missus likes it too as it doesn't make her beard smell.

Will CAMRA wake up in time to fight the bansturbating Pros that seek to denormalise them? The early evidence isn't encouraging, their leader is still in the appeasement stage.

The eagle-eyed will have spotted the (deliberate?) mistake in the Times graph, by the way. For the X axis, read 2007 for 2006 and so on. Figures for 2006 should have been four a week. It only leapt to 27 per week after a certain piece of legislation. Can you guess what it was?

Hint for CAMRA: It was the smoking ban. Now fucking wake up, or you're next.


Sue said...

Dick. I shout the exact same thing when they bring up all the other reasons why they think it is that all the pubs are closing.

I scream "It's the smoking ban you f**king idiots"....

Curmudgeon said...

The other great failing is that CAMRA still believe they can play the on-trade off against the off-trade, which will have the Righteous laughing all the way to the ban. It is, in reality, a stark division between those who believe in the general right for adults to consume alcohol, and those who don't.

John Pickworth said...

While most of us have heard much about the smoking ban and beer taxes, often missed are the massive regulatory costs being loaded upon the pub industry. Something like £300 millions and counting at this current time.

Some good info here from the British Beer & Pub Association

In times past, an industry might have to suffer a major raft of regulation changes once in a generation... but Gordon's gang keeps rolling them out in an endless stream of initiatives that business (but really their customers) are expected to fund, ad infinitum.

Its utterly unbelievable the damage this shower have caused us in just 12 short years. If you've voted Labour on any of the last three occasions, I hope you'll hang your head in shame!

Mark Wadsworth said...


@ JP, I voted Labour in 97 and 01 and I'm not hanging my head in shame.

Anonymous said...

There are many reasons for pub closures, the recession being the biggest culprit. Perhaps the smoking ban has helped a little but pubs knew it was coming, it was bound to happen, they need to learn to live with that. Smoke free environment is a great selling point!!

I've always voted Labour at general elections and quite proud to admit it. Never elected an MP which is sad - that's 'democracy' for you!

To hark on about the smoking ban is just a waste of energy as far as I can see.

I'm also a CAMRA member but will acknowledge that they seem to have lost their way - much of what they say has been nonsense of late.

Curmudgeon said...

I don't think a smoke free environment is a great selling point as there hasn't exactly been a rush of non-smokers into pubs since the ban. Fact is, the kind of people who actively avoided pubs because they were smoky aren't the kind of people to want to spend much time drinking in pubs anyway.

But, regardless of how much damage to the pub trade you think the smoking ban has been done, it has to be accepted that the anti-smoking crusade is basically the same as the crusade to restrict access to alcohol. If you try to say "the smoking ban is great, but I strongly oppose the anti-drink campaign" then you are taking a distinctly hypocritical stance and you have really lost the argument before you've started.

westcoast2 said...


As I am sure you will agree we need reasonable restrictions on alcohol to reduce harm. It is after all a class A carcinogen and causes illness, misery and many deaths.

It does not just affect the person drinking, it affects others too. Both secondhand drinking such as drink driving and thirdhand spilled alcohol.

Indeed glasses left half full could easily be drunk by young children who could and do die. This is a growing problem.

A severe problem is that of drnking glasses. This problem is caused by disgusting alcohol fueled drunks that discard glasses without concern for others. These then break and cause serious injury. Not to mention that they can be used to maim (as happened recently) or used as a weapon to kill.

So simple restrictions are only commonsense such as a ban on advertising, people only allowed to drink 1 or at most 2 pints a day and the use of graphic images on bottles highlighting the illnesses alcohol causes.

A generally accepted idea is to increase the price to reduce binge drinking.

A further reasonable measure it to restrict the alcohol content of drinks to 2%. This is gaining more and more support, as everyone knows keeping to just 2% and 2 pints a day reduces alcohol related problems.

I am sure all responsible members of CAMRA would support these simple and effective measures as they reflect public health concerns about alcohol and its consumption.


banned said...

Very well said westcoast2

My friend heard about someone who saw an undrunk glass of Chianti, her ears filled with puss and her face fell off, what are they going to do about that ?

DaveA said...

RealAleBlog: I am afraid the smoking ban is responsible for 50%-80% of the pub closures. AC Nielsen who are independent market researchers monitor 10,000 pubs and bars. If you want a private copy please email me on or this link.

Tyson said...


What nonesense! "50-80% of pubs closed due to the smoking ban." A conveniently wide figure that cannot be supported by facts. Are you sure it's not 100%? The smoking ban MAY be a factor, along with many others (mainly economic) that are responsible for a downturn in the on-licence trade. However, to claim it IS the reason is risible and impossible to prove.

DaveA said...

Tyson, here are the summaries for the two reports. Also 50.6% of customers to pubs on average pre ban, were smokers according to The Publican. If there was such an "overwhelming" desire for non smoking pubs why did the pub trade not start phasing out smoking pre ban? Why does it need an act of parliament and draconian fines to keep going? Why in 2005 106 pubs closed and in 2006 206 pubs closed but post ban 2007 1950+ pubs closed? Answers on the back of a beer mat please.

"The wet summer of 2007 has added to the downturn but Nielsen analysts estimate that just under half of the 8% decline can be attributed to the smoking ban."

That is the 50%

"Analysis of a year’s worth of sales data from Scotland following the ban there last March has identified that volume in licensed premises had fallen some 5%. When compared with trends in England and Wales over the same period, the numbers suggest that the majority of this decline (4%) can be attributed to the smoking ban."

This is 80%. You are still free to email me on should you want the original documents in Word. Can I remind you market analysis is their core business and they have a network of 10,000 pubs, bars, restauants and clubs who they monitor 365 days a year.

DaveA said...

Tyson, not forgetting PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC)the Management Consultants. Could you or CAMRA provide me with objective and independent reports which disprove my points?

"As many as 5,000 pubs and bars in the UK could cease trading by 2011 through a combination of the smoking ban, a clampdown on drinks promotions and declining beer sales, experts have warned." And "Stephen Broome, licensed sector industry specialist at PwC and author of the From Beer to Eternity? report, said: "The experience from Scotland indicates that the overall impact of the smoking ban legislation should not be overestimated, but some premises will feel the impact more than others. Drinks-only venues, and those without external spaces for smoking, are likely to be most vulnerable."

They then went onto update this report 30/6/08:

"More than 6,000 pubs in the UK could close in the next five years if they do not deal with the impact of the smoking ban and the current squeeze on customer spending.

According to a report by consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2,000 pubs could cease trading in 2008 alone as the industry continues to struggle to adjust a year after the smoking ban was introduced throughout the UK." ... eport.html ... g-ban.html

DaveA said...

Of course I could not let the prophetic words of your Chief Executive pass, writing in 2004 who seemed to have his fingers on the pulse at one time.

Smoking Ban Threat to Community Pubs 16/11/2004

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

DaveA said...

Of course in May 2008 Freedom2Choose did their own survey of 2,600 pubs and here was the main conclusion for pubs closing. It appears at 64% it falls between my 50%-80% figure.

"The survey found that 64 percent of pubs in England are losing trade since last July; 98 percent blame the ban for some or all of the downturn. Sixty-eight percent want choice restored to landlords, with smoking rooms cited as the most preferred option."