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29-04-2015, 14:56
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Yesterday, Boak and Bailey wrote an interesting blogpost entitled Things we Love About CAMRA (http://boakandbailey.com/2015/04/things-we-love-about-camra/). Their conclusion was that, “despite its oddities, frustrations and occasional missteps”, overall it did far more good than harm. I made a similar point in a piece called Only Here for the Beer (http://www.pubcurmudgeon.org.uk/misc/onlyhere.html) which I wrote ten years ago, before blogs and Twitter had been invented.
Recently, there have been thoughtful posts covering much of the same ground from Paul Bailey (http://baileysbeerblog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/camras-legacy.html) and Tandleman (http://tandlemanbeerblog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/camra-heading-for-high-wall.html). Yes, CAMRA can sometimes come across as irritating, dogmatic and misguided, although very often that is more the fault of individual members rather than the organisation as a whole. At its most recent AGM a number of motions were passed indicating a desire to take a more inclusive and less narrow-minded view of the beer (and cider) world. It’s interesting how in recent years some of the strongest criticism has come from the “craft beer” community, while most of the general public would at worst dismiss CAMRA as well-meaning fuddy-duddies.
In my view, two of its greatest achievements are creating the National Inventory (http://www.heritagepubs.org.uk/home/home.asp) of historic pub interiors, and campaigning successfully to scrap the beer duty escalator and indeed get three years of small duty cuts. This, probably the biggest victory scored against the neo-Prohibitionists in recent years, was achieved through a broad-based campaign that mobilised all beer drinkers and pubgoers, not just real ale lovers.
I still feel that CAMRA could and should do more at a national level to combat the anti-drink lobby, and that it has devoted far too much effort to pubco and planning reform, which are issues that fail to resonate with most members on the ground, and are greatly overstated as reasons for pub decline. There’s also a question mark about what, in the present day, its objectives should actually be. But visit any of the many beer festivals it organises around the country and you will see happiness being spread and interest in beer being stimulated, which can’t be bad.
B&B disabled comments on their blogpost for fear of provoking an almighty row, but feel free to comment here.


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