"I like the fair pint campaign recognising as it does the need for the tie for those tied to brewers who own up to 500 pubs, (To do otherwise would mean we would lose all our Family Brewers."
The tie was originally a good thing in that it allowed brewers to develop and have an outlet for what they made. It was never designed for giant and avaricious PubCos. It is their monopoly we must challenge."
You are mostly right in what you say, but your anti CAMRA swipe is just your prejudice showing. CAMRA has campaigned against the big Pub Companies and indeed, if I remember correctly, spoke against them in the last round of government enquiries."
CAMRA, as far as I know, supports the tie in broadly the same way as the Fair Pint Campaign which you rightly praise."
The problem is unfairness. The members of the Fair Pint campaign are angry because they rightly see being tied to unnecessarily expensive sources of supply as reducing their competitiveness. The tie system is fundamentally anti-competitive and that is the crux of the argument against it.
The problem is the tie is always anti-competitive. It is irrelevent whether the pub chain owns 10, 100, 500 or 5000 pubs. And herein lies the problem for CAMRA.
CAMRA heartily dislikes the Pubcos and would like to see their wings clipped. Unfortunately, challenging them for anti-competitive practises would draw attention to the same anti-competitive advantage heartily embraced by the "Family" Brewers (many of which are rapacious PLC pubcos in their own right.)
So, CAMRA has a conundrum – it has a big stick with which it could beat Enterprise et al but that big stick would necessarily inflict collateral damage to their beloved "Family" brewers. And that would be just not on. Even discussing it would cause a mighty big stink.
Also, I believe CAMRA's taciturnity on the subject of competition is political. Although competition and choice go hand-in-hand, CAMRA demands only the latter. As I've previously described
, a far-left anti-capitialist ethos pervades CAMRA and talk of competition provokes a head-in-the-sand response. The dread word "competition" can evoke raw memories of the socially brutal Thatcher years. It needn't be so.
I suspect that Tandleman reveres the "Family Brewers" more than I do. The worst of them e.g. Greene King are rapacious pubcos like Enterprise and Punch; only we're expected by CAMRA to pussy-foot around them only because they persist in brewing real-ale (dull as ditchwater though it is.) At the other end of the scale there are some rather more endearing companies. I used to be particularly irked by Youngs, on whose territory I lived for fourteen years. Firstly their own beers were extremely inconsistent. Getting a good pint was the exception, not the rule. Secondly, entering a Youngs pub entailed being deluged with promotional dreck for Stella and Guinness. To all intents and purposes some of their pubs didn't really sell their own beer; beers from the mass-producers won the Youngs seal of approval. In many of their pubs it was even impossible to buy their rather good bottles, notably Chocolate Stout, and particularly, Special London Ale. Why should they benefit from the tie system? (My opinion of Youngs has improved since the Bedford move as consistency and outright tastiness has improved considerably.)
I've had conversations on this theme rather often and inevitably someone will ask "well, Mr Opinionated , what would you do?". Here it is:
End the tie system; it's screwing the country's pubs and inhibiting the craft sector. Yes it would be a big upheaval and there is some merit in the argument that some nice cuddly, long-established traditional brewers would suffer and something should be done to protect them. I would impose two strict conditions that would allow the retention of a tied estate: a) if the company can prove it owned the pub continuously for the past 100 years it can continue to do so. b) that pub shall sell ONLY it's owners beers; not contracted, not licensed (it can be called the Sam Smiths principle.) I'd also automatically give listed status to all pubs 100 or more years old.
OK, my plan will need some fine tuning. I expect your comments will help.
(BTW, I'm not "anti-CAMRA", I'm CAMRA-sceptic. I'm pro-CAMRA-actually-achieving-real-progress.)