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A recent comment on one of Pete Brown's blogs got me thinking about all that speak for the trade. DJ suggests that the trade needs another body, and I found myself spending the last week debating both sides for and against the idea in my head. The kind of thinking that wakes you up at 3am with an 'its so obvious' moment.

There are plenty of groups that claim to speak for the trade. I'm not sure what criteria is needed to form a group that that 'speaks for the trade' - I know I've never been asked by any of them. I am a member of the BII, mainly for the excellent training and ideas-sharing that they do. I'm a big fan of working out problems, rather than just moaning about them, and the trade would do better as a whole to look at others, and indeed ask, what works for them that might work for me.

It's part of the reason for calling this blog Student Brewer - although the idea was to write about my experiences setting up and running a brewery, and learning the craft, it's let me talk about other ways that I consider myself a student. I starting using twitter for the pub ( @kilverts ), and learnt quickly from other pubs that I started following what it could be used for. Updating the guest ales, for example, or highlighting that a new menu is now live on the website (seeing as you asked, Mother's Day menu goes live on Monday).

But the BII seems very 'on the fence' regarding nearly everything. The BBPA will jump on anything that takes the spotlight off the tie. The IPC includes in it's ranks Fairpint, who want the tie removed, no middle road, and SIBA, who argue for the tie to a degree. And there's numerous other groups - GMB Pubrevolution, who for ages have said they, as self employed businessmen and women, will go on strike by breaking their legally binding contracts. In fact, they've said it for so long now I'm actually hoping they get on and do it, so that they'll be sorted, one way or another, and leave a space for people like me, and I presume DJ, and others that I talk to, to campaign against raising tax/mandatory codes/neo-pro's/more red tape/etc ad nauseum.

But that would involve forming another group - a group I'd like to think of as democratic (as far as possible). A group that surveys it's members, and asks for their top 3 things to campaign for/against. A group that I feel I have a say in - even if it's just picking the top 3 out of 10(?) things every 6 months. A quick email would do.

And it would need a figurehead. Someone willing and able to take apart Health Alliance reports and show the truth. Someone willing, not just to blame others and argue against them, but to go to the table with them, and suggest a future that works for both parties. Someone with genuine knowledge of the trade and it's issues, but not directly in it as that would potentially skew their opinions. And someone who can get their ideas, thoughts and proposals across clearly, in a way that's understood by all.

I have my own thoughts on this, and a couple of names spring to mind. But given the world of beer writing and blogging that I've found myself sinking deeper into, I suggest we don't need another trade body. We need the Guild of Beer Writers. A group willing to speak for pubs and their customers without bias, led, perhaps, by Melissa Cole and Pete Brown.