Thursday, 9 May 2013

Liberals & civil society 2

Launching a civil society initiative on local election day might not be the best way to grab the attention of the party political, so I thought I’d mention the Fair Deal for Your Local campaign by CAMRA and other groups.
This is essentially an opportunity to contribute to the government’s consultation on Pubco reform (filling in the online survey doesn’t take long at all); although there are also other elements to the campaign – yesterday there was a demonstration yesterday outside a pub in Witney where the landlord is threatened with eviction.

Pubs at their best are based on face-to-face local communities, where commercial transactions are embedded in a wider social framework.*  However, the big Pubcos have consistently undermined this, taking an unfair slice of their licencees’ revenues by their arrangements for selling beer, and the rents they charge.
The Pubcos rely on an uneven distribution of profits between the local productive economy (pub landlords and their staff) and an anonymous exploitative financial sector – so they encapsulates many of the wider problems of our economy and society.

I find this a refreshing campaign (in every sense), because it goes beyond a reactive demand to ‘Save this’ or ‘Defend that!’, and make some practical proposals:
“We support the principle that a tied licensee should be no worse off than a free-of-tie licensee, join us in calling for:

 Market Rent Only (free of tie option) and Guest Beer Options for licensees of large Pubcos

 A powerful Code and Adjudicator to monitor large Pubcos and end abuses

The fundamental problem is that the large pub companies are taking more than is reasonable from the profits of each pub. A fair deal will result in the average tied pub being £4,000 better off annually.”
The campaign isn’t party political, but it has a liberal feel to it.  The government’s consultation itself is a result of Lib Dem influence.  And it is worth noting  two of the liberals  involved in the campaign: Greg Mulholland MP (Chair of the Parliamentary Save the Pub Group) and Gareth Epps (who is also Co-Chair of the Social Liberal Forum).

Click here to fill in the government’s consultation, it only takes a few minutes.

*Rather than the social sphere being subordinated to the financial, as market fundamentalists prefer, or the commercial being regarded as inherently alien to the social, as many on the left would have it.

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