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23-04-2018, 11:31
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As I’m sure all my readers are aware, last Saturday saw the announcement of the results of the voting on the great issue of our times – CAMRA Revitalisation. While I hadn’t got to the stage of writing anything in advance, obviously I had given some thought as to what I would say in the event of the vote going one way or the other. However, in typically British style, what happened was not a decisive decision but a somewhat equivocal outcome. In a sense, I was being prescient back in September (http://pubcurmudgeon.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/standing-at-crossroads.html) when I wrote “No doubt in the end some kind of uneasy compromise will be arranged.”
As the results show (https://wb.camra.org.uk/2018/04/21/camra-members-vote-to-approve-change-following-largest-consultation-on-47-year-history/), all but one of the Special Resolutions were passed with the required 75% majority. The one exception was SR6 ‘To approve the insertion of the following Article 2(e) in CAMRAʼs Articles of Association: “2(e) to act as the voice and represent the interests of all pub- goers and beer, cider and perry drinkers;”’ which only secured 72.6% approval. The resolution was widely seen as putting into practice the aspiration expressed in the Revitalisation report to extend some measure of support to “quality” non-real beers and ciders.
In fact, the democratic credentials of the whole exercise were very suspect, as no opportunity was given to circulate to the membership any case against the Special Resolutions. Given this, it’s impressive that there was sufficient grass-roots discontent to reject even one of them. The whole thing was reminiscent of a Soviet Bloc election and leaves a distinctly sour taste in the mouth.
Contrast this with the National Executive elections (https://wb.camra.org.uk/2018/04/21/national-executive-election-results/), where Lynn Atack, the only candidate to set out an unequivocal stall against the entire thrust of the Revitalisation agenda, topped the poll with 8,491 votes. The total number of voters in this election hasn’t been stated, but it’s clear that Lynn received a substantially higher percentage of votes than those which opposed SR6. Maybe it is better to treat the electorate as adults and give them a for-or-against case rather than just implying they’re rubber-stamping something.
Taking the results as a whole, nine out of ten Revitalisation resolutions were passed, as were ordinary Conference motions to adopt an officially neutral stance on the cask breather, and to allow the selling of non-real British beers at beer festivals. I can’t really see the point of the last one, as it comes across as rather like allowing cats at a dog show. So the results have to be seen as a mixed bag rather than a decisive victory for either “side”. But this hasn’t stopped a hysterical toys-out-of-pram reaction in some quarters:
YO! Given @CAMRA_Official (https://twitter.com/CAMRA_Official?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw) regressive vote today we’ve pulled our beer from Stourbridge Beer Festival. We will have no affiliation with an organisation that categorically refuses to support our amazing flourishing industry #CRAFT (https://twitter.com/hashtag/CRAFT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw). We love our “fizz beer” 🙌🏻
— GlassHouseBeer Co. (@GlassHousebeerz) April 21, 2018 (https://twitter.com/GlassHousebeerz/status/987823858123264000?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw) As I said in the post I referenced above (http://pubcurmudgeon.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/standing-at-crossroads.html), there remains an underlying tension in CAMRA between those who see it as essentially being about the preservation of a distinctive British tradition, and those who want it to wholeheartedly embrace the world of modern beer innovation. This decision has papered over the cracks and kicked the can down the road for another year, but the fundamental dichotomy has not gone away. Although there’s no doubt which camp I align with, it’s not a question of right and wrong, but a different way of looking at things, and the two outlooks remain uneasy bedfellows within the same organisation.

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