Friday, December 12, 2014

It's time to get Back onto Brand with Question Time

Russell Brand

THIS post about Russell Brand got more reblogs and shares and comments and reaction than any other I've done. Why? Because a lot of people find it hard to take in things he says like this:

That post was over a week ago and since then Question Time Happened. Ironically much of the reporting on the sparring event of the season is that the commentators aren't listening to what really is being said by Brand. They are all a part of the problem, the problem they all think they are reporting on but which they are hulding up and sustaining.
REALLY Poor crit in the Telegraph
Brand's Own Account on his Facebook
A copy of his account on my blog

I couldn't see this BBC Question Time - I was at the first formal meeting of the White Swan Community Pub Working Group - all about building a campaign to raise £1.5 million in community shares and try to buy the pub from Punch Taverns its freeholder... More of that elsewhere

My friend and best selling author Jude Calvert-Toulmin pointed out: 'I'm sure you've read it by now J Mark Dodds. How wonderful is he? I love him' and she posted his article about his appearance on QT, but I hadn't yet seen it,  so I got to read his account before seeing the programme. Been busy with things like saving pubs and spending time with lovely people like my sons. It was Ed's thirteenth birthday so a lot of the day was diverted happily there.

Jude is concerned that Russell Brand will be bumped off by the Establishment. I hope she is wrong, he is a national treasure. No one else is speaking as clearly about what needs to happen to people, planet and politics as he. He is becoming as important, culturally and historically, as our nations' pubs; and THAT, really, is saying something.

Jude commented: "They're going to whack him like they did with Di and Jill Dando. It pisses me off every day watching the whole sordid tragedy unfold I've watched it today Mark and I'm worried about him".

My thoughts on his Question Time demeanour:

He's out of his milieu and feeling very nervous. I know people who've quite surprised me by their reaction about Brand when I've said 'have you been following what Russell Brand has been saying?', some fairly close friends, some people whose views I generally respect, who absolutely hate him with a venom, a bile, that is simply not rational. They literally CANNOT hear what he is saying for the voices in their heads screaming 'he's a fucking misogynist, an ego bound comic, a sixth form debater'. Now I don't fully understand the mechanism that prevents them from being able to hear what this man is actually saying; they are certainly missing what is happening with Russell Brand altogether because of their existing prejudices against the charicature figure of him they have in their brain that doesn't conform in any way to the man he most definitely IS now... actually LISTEN to Brand and you will hear a highly well informed, eloquent, insightful and down to earth visionary who is telling the world what needs to happen to prevent it from being the way it is now - a way which is broken and leading to undoubted, certain, catastrophic painful disaster for humanity globally.

He has researchers. Helpers, he knows that many, many people regard him like that and he is dreadfully aware that QT is a chance to bring a lot of them around to appreciate what he stands for if he performs well above their expectations.

And he's on a panel pitted alongside Farage, it's been touted as a boxing match brawl, a sparring session, a battle of wits and ego. He doesn't want to slip into descending to the level of Little Englander which could so easily happen...

As a comedian he's used to the cut and thrust of rapier repartee with people who are prone to be deliberately acerbic and controversially edgy - here the platform is very different and he's not practiced. He could run rings round the whole panel in one context but has to be very careful in this. He's on double alert trying not to let his ego get the better if him. I think he's having a very hard time being sensible in the breeze of some of the weak blather blowing around the desk, some of which deserves a response of raspberries and mooning. A discussion about immigration that wouldn't descend into violence is a thing too far for this audience.

We have a duty of care to protect this man from the considerable possibilities that Jude is not wrong. He is too honest and well informed not to be dangerous.

If I didn't have his book already. I'd buy it. Here it is again on The Young Turks 

Answer Time. Russell Brand's account of the Question Time on 11/12/2014 makes better reading than the mainstream press.

Posted this on my blog so that I could link to it in case the link to Brand's original on Facebook won't work for people who don't use Fb. This is Brand's own account of the 11/12/14 Question Time This is a man who is being honest and true.

Answer time

I’ve just got home from recording bbc tv’s political debate show Question Time and if you saw it and found it anti-climactic, I know how you feel.

Nigel Farage in the flesh, gin blossomed flesh that it is, inspires sympathy more than fear, an end of the pier, end of the road, end of days politician, who like many people who drink too much has a certain sloppy sadness. Camilla Cavendish who I was sat next to, seemed kindly and the two politicians from opposing parties, that flanked Dimbleby melted into an indistinguishable potage of cautious wonk words before I could properly learn which was blue and which was red. For my part I sat politely on my hands, keen to avoid hollering obscenities after a week of hypocrisy accusations and half-arsed, front page controversy.

Only the audience inspire passion or connection. Humanity. The usual preposterous jumble that you see in any of our towns, even if groomed and prepped by Auntie, they comparatively throb with authenticity opposite us, across the shark-eyed bank of cumbersome cameras.

The panelists have been together in “the green room” chatting, like before any TV show, and that’s what QT is, a TV show, a timid and tepid debate where the topics and dynamism of the discussion are as wooden and flat as the table we gamely sit around.

There is a practice question prior to the record, so the cameras can position and mics can be checked and the audience can practice harrumphing. In my dressing room at the modern Kentish theatre, before my sticky descent, I can hear them being prepped “ask questions, quarrel, applaud, keep those hands up”.

The practice question is a soft ball rhubarb toss about clumping kids or something and even though I’m determined to concentrate like a grown up, my mind drifts back to the Canterbury Food Bank I visited before arriving, partly to learn about it, as a researcher told me there might be question on them and first hand knowledge would make me look good, and partly because, y’know, I actually care.

In a warehouse in a retail park Christians and sixth formers assemble bags of what would rightly be considered “staples” in a kinder world. Tins of food and packets of biscuits and it’s good that we’re near to the “White Cliffs of Dover” because it feels like there’s a war on and the livid coloured packaging goes sepia in my mind as Dame Vera scores the melancholy scene.

The Christians are as Christians are, kind and optimistic. The donations come from ordinary local folk “We get more from the poorer people” says Martin, a quick deputy in a cuddly jumper. “More from Asda shoppers than Waitrose.” As I contemplate cancelling my Ocado (or whatever the fuck it’s called) order Chrissy, the lady who runs the scheme says that this year people who received packages previously have now donated themselves. Previous recipients often volunteer an all. Here older folk and the students diligently box off the nosh and I determine to give them and their heartening endeavor a shout out on the show and my writhing, nervous gut begins to settle.

Chrissy explains how the Caterbury Food Bank has brought people together, not just those it feeds but those who volunteer. “It seemed like a good way to worship Christ” she says. Martin, who I am starting to gently fall in love with, observes that supermarkets profit from the enterprise as Food Bank campaigns encourage their customers to spend more there. “Do you think there’s an obligation for the state to feed people?” I ask “or room for a bit more Jesus kicking the money lenders out of the temple type stuff?”

They smile.

Many who use their facility are people that work full time and still fall short, others have suffered under “benefit sanctions”. “They’re very quick to cut off people’s benefits these days” says Martin.

“People think that Canterbury is affluent, but all around us are pockets of the hidden hungry”. The hidden hungry. “I’m gonna use that” I tell him as I scarper. He makes a very British joke about charging me as I get in the car and I tell him I nicked some jammy dodgers, and we laugh so that’s alright.

I think about the hidden hungry as I settle into my QT chair and get “mic’d up”. Farage entered to a simultaneous cheer and jeer, they cancel each other out, like bose headphones and leave an eerie silence. David Dimbleby says something about it being panto season and someone in the audience says “oh no it isn’t” and I love him for it, even though I’m pretty sure he was one of the UKip cheerers.

And a pantomime it is, well not so entertaining, no flouncing dames or doleful Buttons or rousing songs, just semi-staged tittle-tattle and bickering. The only worthwhile sentiments, be they raging or insightful come from the audience, across the camera bank. The man who brings up politicians pay rises, the man who demands I stand for parliament (so that he could not vote for me judging from his antipathy), the mad, lovely blue hair woman who swears at everyone, mostly though the woman who says “Why are we talking about immigrants? It’s a side issue, this crisis was caused by financial negligence and the subsequent bail-out”. This piece of rhetoric more valuable than anything I could’ve said, including my pound-shop Enoch Powell gag. More potent than the one thing I regret not saying because time and format did not permit it. That the people have the wisdom, not politicians, that the old paradigm is broken and will not be repaired. That the future is collectivised power. Parliamentary politics is dead, they, it’s denizens, wandering from aye to neigh from Tory to UKip know it’s dead and we know it’s dead. Farage is worse than stagnant, he is a tribute act, he is a nostalgic spasm for a Britain that never was; an infinite cricket green with no one from the colonies to raise the game, grammar schools on every corner and shamed women breastfeeding under giant parasols. The Britain of the future will be born of alliances between ordinary, self-governing people, organised locally, communicating globally. Built on principles that are found in traditions like Christianity; community, altruism, kindness, love.

In the “practice question” Farage says it’s okay to hit children “it’s good for them to be afraid” he said. There is a lot of fear about in our country at the moment and he is certainly benefitting from it. But the Britain I love is unafraid and brave. We have a laugh together, we take care of one another, we love an underdog and we unite to confront bullies. We voluntarily feed the poor when the government won’t do it. These ideas and actions that I saw in the food bank and across the camera bank are where the real power lies and this new power is the answer, no question about it.


Sunday, December 07, 2014

'We need to take on the frenzied glorification of motherhood'

'I’m with Farage on breastfeeding – we need to take on the frenzied glorification of motherhood'

By Melissa Kite; Spectator 06 December 2014
'Frenzied Glorification of Motherhood'. Wow, Melissa Kite's flying a bit off the line of the Zeitgeist there. Sounds like she was brought up in a traditional English patriarchal backwater where taking tea in Claridges is commonplace. She hasn't moved the issue anywhere. In fact this issue isn't an issue.

Any real problem about breast feeding in public is just a hold over of social mores that are outdated and should be irrelevant to contemporary society. It's evidence of how long it takes to end status quo's and traditions.

The issue of breastfeeding in public isn't about tyranny of motherhood or the Listing of Diaperdom or anything like it. It's about pragmatic reflection that many women are able to be out and about with young babies who need to be fed. Socialising children needs to begin when they are born not when they have been potty trained and have a two thousand word vocabulary. Doing it in public, quietly and with unashamed discretion should be acceptable to everyone. Just the same way we don't find it acceptable for people to shout and throw food around and draw attention to themselves at a dining table generally.

Oh, and Lou Burns seems to be implying that farting and or squeezing spots and indulging in attending to other bodily functions while at the dinner table, or giving birth in the foyer of a hotel with a team of birthing staff in tow, are somehow in the same spectrum of social mores that have slipped to allow feeding a baby in public to be considered acceptable. They are not.

Further to that this is exactly the kind of easy thing Farage likes to be 'honest and frank about' so that he appears to be a 'good bloke'.  Nigel Farage is NOT a 'good bloke'. He is a massively overpaid at everyone else's expense TOFF, a highly privileged, self serving conniving soundbite loving lad who likes a pint and doesn't give a fucking hoot for anyone other than Nigel Farage. He is dangerous and only appears to have some scant validity because the rest of our politics is so dysfunctional. He is not part of a solution to a broken political set up, he is a symptom of it.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

I Think I LOVE Russell Brand

I REALLY like THE SUN coming up with this front page. It's so sweet of them that I wonder if Rupert Murdoch has behind the scenes had an aged epiphany and decided to become a socialist anarchist and come out secretly in full support of promoting Russell Brand as the next President of the World.

We, the most hypocritical of all 'newspapers' on the planet, BRAND BRAND, a person who very clearly is NOT a hypocrite,


I posted this on my facebook page late last night (02.12.14) and I reckon that today it's probably had more shares and comments on different threads than anything else I've ever posted. This is a pretty sure fire sign that Russell Brand is onto something quite big. What strikes me is that Brand has split people's opinions because he is a comedian and has long hair and has done some silly things and because of that they don't like the fact that he's getting in the news all the time...

Brand acknowledges all these things and is dealing with them. He is intelligent and on mark, the reason he is being railed against is simply because he is right and his message is accessible. The status quo cannot stand it because he is connecting with millions of people simply because he talks sense. Left intellectuals can't stand it because they wish they had people listen to them the way they listen to Brand. Libertarians can't stand it because he is popular and they don't allow themselves to read/hear what he is saying and dismiss it before their scepticism is pricked and they begin to think 'hang on, he's talking sense' ... and so on. It's that kind of stuff. AND what particularly irks, I think, is that Brand's message is NOT in soundbites and sloganeering, he is delivering a message that is holistic, thoughtful, complex and joined up AND people are listening! 

Russell Brand is straight up; on the ball and he is right. He's actively researching his position. He's perpared to admit his frailties. He's happy to admit he doesn't have answers. He pisses people off. He's opening up people's minds.

How many of you reading this have stood up to faceless corporate asset strippers? How many of you have fronted out bailiffs IN your premises? How many have been homeless? How many have had everything taken away from you? How many have had your lives fully assaulted by the irrational corporate edifice that has put the very existence of humanity at risk? He understands these realities, he acknowledges them from the heart.

Brand is talking from an intellectual position as well as from an emotional. He is presenting a serious position, he is being frank, as open, transparent as he can be. That he empathises appropriately with real, ordinary people who do not have a voice is good. They understand what is what.

HE is opening up an URGENT debate that has been needed urgently for the best part of a century. Certainly since Gaia hypothesis in the 1970's. Our existence is at threat. No more, no less. The reason he's causing so much interest is because these things need to be brought into the open. They don't get into the open because the answers are not prescribed - the solutions are not clear. National debate does not like debate it likes answers. It is BRAVE to stand out and say 'we need to change everything, we need a revolution, and NO I don't have the answers' He is RIGHT to be doing this. There are no easy solutions. There is going to be disruption to the consumer paradigm. There already is. We just haven't fully felt it yet. But the solutions that WILL emerge sure as damn it involve overturning everything we take for granted now. These things are too demanding for normal conversation. So they don't get talked about. They need to be resolved. And talking about them is where it begins.

I think I love this man.

The below, at the risk of over-egging a pudding, is an additional take on the situation

Brand is well read, well researched and very honest about himself. He has been trying to watch his Ps and Qs of late because he realises his more effusive lampooning gets picked up on and lampooned.

What he's said about voting for some things is not inconsistent with his position on democracy - on some issues a vote is the only way some things CAN be changed until we have a different paradigm (MRO for tied pub tenants for example, of which I am proud to say, I had a part in bringing to parliament) while voting in the wider societal arena manifestly does not achieve outcomes that benefit the majority of people in society.

Some of his delivery is irritating, some of his writing is too - there are a couple of grammatical howlers in the opening paragraphs of his REVOLUTION book which a friend bought for me and I am reading out of courtesy (but have to say that with patience applied I've not read anything but joined up thinking so far) and beginning to enjoy... He is definitely not a Farage and he definitely is not self serving. He loves people. Real, ordinary people. He is aware of the wider world and at base his thesis is right. In consumer society we have created an unstoppable madness that is consuming the planet. If we do NOT have a revolution in everything we do we are fucked. I'd consider voting for him.

And for those of you who think Russell Brand is a lightweight here's a great example of his form with George Monbiot, another honest broker of what really is happening to the world:
UPDATE 05/12/2014

The Sun's original story which, really was very oddly a non-story as it seemed only to be accusing Brand of paying rent to a landlord who doesn't pay tax. ? Something unresolved there. But Brand certainly doesn't seem to have anything to hide... SEE
The Sun talks shit
Maybe Brand owns the company he rents his flat from eh? I mean I have a couple of millionaire friends who don't 'own' their 'own' homes.NO they rent them from offshore companies called something like 'Pension Fund Trusts' or 'Real Estate Investment Trusts' (REITs) who 'own' the homes, companies who are set up to 'own' their homes, on behalf of 'them' (my friends) so they can avoid paying tax on 'the' homes 'they' don't 'own'. I know, I know, it's a bit weird. People like me. People like me just cannot understand all these complicated things. Someone like me who USED to 'own' a home like other people do (after I rented for decades) by having a massive debt called a mortgage but then spent three years being homeless which, because I was almost in the gutter gave me a priority housing situation which ultimately led to to a co-operative housing association understanding I had nowhere else to go to and offering me a flat on a fair rent that I can REALLY call a 'home') People like me cannot comprehend these things. You buy a home then don't own it. You work for yourself but you don't because you work for a limited company that has the same name as you but it's limited and it pays you dividends instead of PAYE and NI and stuff like that. You have to be very very clever to know these things. Oh. No. You. Don't. You have to be rich. Because otherwise they don't apply.

Nice one Russell


Russell Brand: a hero for our times?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Kensington Park Hotel KPH Yet another pub about to be Asset Stripped and converted to alternative use

Twitter feed here
Facebook page here
Petition you can sign here

I signed the petition because:

Because the massive scam, the cultural crime of developers profiteering out of what are special, irreplaceable local social assets unique to every community, all over the UK, and pubs are the essential bedrock that underpins the foundations of British social structure. Pubs are an iconic part of our essential sense of place.

Pubs are part of the international understanding of what makes Britain 'British'. Pubs, especially so when well run, are unique cultural levellers, their true social value far exceeds any possible financial value. We are confused because society has come to believe that money is more valuable than people; and pubs exchange hands for the wrong reasons.

Morally, pubs are owned by the people already and they must be preserved, nurtured, enhanced and reinvigorated for the people wherever necessary, all over the UK, for the benefit, edification, enrichment and enjoyment of future generations - because if they are not, we shall stop being British and will be like every other nation on earth. And, even though we like croissants and Pad Thai, for the sake of a few rich twats becoming even richer, completely losing our cultural identity along with our pubs is just plain silly.

George Orwell’s Moon Under Water pub would go bust today

Most readers who've bothered to comment have, as most people in the UK who comment on pubs usually do, completely missed the point.

The article is a comment on the Great British Pubco Scam. It is an allegory. AS was the Moon Under Water. Good pubs are glue to good communities, they always have been and always will, if they are allowed to thrive.

The point is that thousands of pubs are not fit for purpose because they are owned by asset stripping corporations who don't give a flying fig for pubs; they only care about profit. These pubco's take all the profit out of 'their' pubs and transfer it to pay the interest on the gargantuan loans they raised to buy the pubs in the first place. Such acquisitions, usually of hundreds, if not thousands, of pubs included buying the right to keep each pub's sitting tenant - the thousands of publicans who own and run the pub businesses - working forever to repay the pubco's debts while having all the financial responsibility for maintenance and upkeep of the pub; PAYE; VAT, rates; in fact everything to do with running every aspect of every pub to the extent that all the pubco does is employ a private police force to 'look after' the estate; generally ignorant bullies who've never poured a pint in their lives who treat publicans as if they are slaves. This is nothing more than a form of bonded labour.

So the freeholders take all or most of the profit from the majority of pubs, leaving nothing for the publicans who run them to reinvest in their businesses. These pubs - and tens of thousands have already closed forever - have become run down and not fit for purpose as the pubco's escape being fingered for their usurious, medieval business practices under the shadow of the smoking ban and a hundred other reasons given for pub closures that do not involve the pubco charging way over open market rent and up to double the price for beers through their supply 'tie' contract. These pubs are all up for grabs, if the pubco's could sell the lot for alternative use they would. But that's just too big a thing for them to get away with. Instead they ply their filthy fly by night scam and sell the nation's pub assets in dribs and drabs all the time - around 1,600 pubs every year at the current rate of flogging and we all watch bemused saying things like 'can't complain, you should of used it mate'.

They way the pub sector has been dominated by companies whose outlook this article parodies has removed innovation and evolution from the whole pub sector and stifled competition and the need for the pub sector to move ahead from the standards of Orwell's era.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A helpful article from one of the prop forwards of the Tied Pub Sector

Senior pubco employee outpouring of rubbish in the Telegraph.  It’s obvious that a senior employee of a company whose financial foundations are determined on extracting as much profit as possible from its customers is going to advocate for keeping the status quo.

David Forde’s enormous salary and bonuses are paid for out of the sweat of the
tenants who generate all the profit the company he works for declares. A company whose  reputation in the backwoods of the murky tied pub sector is for hiding in the shadows behind the larger Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns while having some of the most toxic relations with tenants anywhere.

The fact that he has time to write the article is telling in itself, it's what he's paid to do. Like all pubco’ tenants, Heineken’s lessees no doubt work so hard and for so little reward they don't have the luxury of having time to write for a national newspaper about anything let alone in favour of legislative change, MRO and a fairer, freer order of business relationship that will enable them to keep some of the profit which abuse of the spirit of the supply contract takes from them.

Publicans don't have time to pontificate with analogies of well meaning enthusiastic nineteenth century surgeons amputating limbs to heal a cut. Tied publicans are too busy fire fighting against their business reality which is that all the tied pubco's, Forde’s company included, charge over-market rent and up to double the price that tied tenants could buy the same beer for from their local wholesaler if they were free to do so. In essence the analogy would be better if applied to Forde's employer's business model, be described as as a cancer with secondaries that must be operated on to remove it from a terminally Ill pub tied sector before it dies altogether. 

The basic facts of the unsustainable business relationship between pubco’s and
their tenants were clearly identified more than ten years ago during the government’s 2004 Select Committee hearings looking at Pubco’s and the way they treat their tenants. Nothing has changed materially in the behaviour of the pubco’s other than they have fewer tenants to rip off now, because something like another 20,000 pubs have closed, largely flogged off for alternate use ‘being no longer viable’ as pubs - by white collar people like Forde.

Forde's mention of his Yorkshire tenant is interesting. He starts by stating the publican was overseeing £155 a week income, which wouldn't pay rates let alone rent or cover a weekly beer invoice. This tenant now apparently, after Heineken's inspired investment of £100K, running a £780K a year turnover business which employs 25 people. The figures don't stack up. Come forward with the figures of that Yorkshire pub for a closer analysis of the business. How does the tenant pay VAT, PAYE and NI out of that turnover given the payroll, conservatively, must be well over 30% of turnover. Add in rent, rates, light and heat, other random overheads such as,er, beer and food and fixtures and fittings maintenance and toilet rolls what have you got? At a glance that looks very much like a business that is trading whilst insolvent. While, no doubt, Heineken extracts a decent margin all round for their modest investment in their tenants' industry.
If David Forde’s perception of the business he presides over is accurate Heineken will have lots of happy tenants pleased to come forward and promote the same types of lease and tied contracts they operate their businesses under… serving them, the pubco, their pub and the people they pull the pints for well all round and it won’t take much for Forde to invite a few, say three or four, Heineken tenants forward to bring some of company's tenants and get them to advocate for the status quo so eloquently as does he...

Perhaps a journalist from the Telegraph might like to take this up? If not, I'd be happy to oblige.

My declaration of interests here is that I was a tenant of this company before David was around... They cannot have changed much in three years without sacking everyone and starting again. And I'm pretty sure they didn't do that.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The gestative community pubs movement doesn't have a chance

FROM Financial Times, Kate Allen, 24/11/2014

Yoga, dance and microbrewery beer at UK’s first community pub

While there is a gestative community pub ownership movement and there are clear signs that many communities would love to 'save their pubs' from conversion to alternative use 'Other communities' will not have the same chances that the Ivy House locals did. They were at the right place at the right time, as the Localism act came into play, with an unusually competent group of locals forming a committee able to research and access grants which simply will not be available for any such pub purchases again. It was the Heritage Listing more than ACV status which gave the Ivy House a spanner in the works for the developer's plans for conversion, and by offering almost £200K more than the developer paid Enterprise for the building, on a close to back to back turnaround deal, it surely was a no brainer for the pub to be sold into community ownership. No other community will have the luxury of being able to outbid a developer, it just isn't going to happen. 

So, while the Ivy House is a success story it's in no way indicative of what's going to happen across the country. The several hundred communities all over the UK whose pubs are under threat of change of use have been getting together and assembling ACV applications trying to raise the money to outwit well funded developers who specialise in turning pubs into other use. They are up against the pubco's whose asset stripping has led to the abundance of 'failed' pubs coming to market. These companies are reluctant sellers when it comes to dealing with communities, they prefer to work with asset conversion companies - as with a recent deal Marston's did with New River Retail where over 200 pubs were handed over for conversion where, ironically as the CoopsUK is the champion par excellence of Saving Community Pubs, the Coo-op Retail arm has taken up a quarter of the sites with plans for development of Community shops. - and the fact is that ACV status on its own confers no protection from conversion by developers  as pubs are still vulnerable to being changed to supermarket use without consent as these are in the same planning class. The facts are stark:

  • There are about 46000 pubs in the UK.
  • Roughly 540 are registered as ACV.
  • At last count, 34 pubs in London are ACV. Ivy House was the first.
  • With the exception of the Ivy House, NONE of the London ACV pubs have been successfully bought out by a community interest group under the provisions of the Localism Act and ACV Regs (Community Right to Bid).
  • Over half the London ACV pubs are currently closed.
  • CAMRA figures suggest around 10 pubs (from 540 registered) have been saved via the Right to Bid process. A further 10-15 are in community ownership, but were bought before the Localism Act came into force or outside of the Right to Bid provisions.
  • We currently lose 31 pubs each week. In London we have lost half our pubs over the last 30 years and they are threatened like never before. 37 perfectly viable pubs have been converted to Tesco Express stores in the last 4 years alone.
Communities don't have a chance. The gestative Community Pub movement needs serious investment, professional input and a national vision. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Interview re Pubco Regulation on Phil Williams R5 Live 19.11.14

From the Duke of Wellington, a great pub on Balls Pond Road

Compilation of articles about the 'end' of the beer tie

Brits to Get Cheaper Beer!
(If They Can Still Find a Pub to Sell It)

Pub shares slide after vote to break beer 'tie'


And a little bit of comment somewhere else in response to someone saying another publican was 'naive' and by implication worthy of being shafted by a pubco

That is exactly right ******* that is how the pubco's have got away with it for so long. Because people like you casually dismiss their absolutely unacceptable behaviour as being somehow 'okay' because people are 'naive'

Well, I am not naive and many of the highly successful publicans I know who run multiple sites that are tied are not naive either but they don't make enough money out of their tied pubs to be able to walk away, and few of them are profitable enough for anyone to want to buy, they are trapped with their pubco's taking all the profit. These people do not speak out against the beer tie because they have too much to lose... and there are thousands of individual publicans out there in the trap too, intimidated by their pubco staff, harried, bullied and treated like slaves, because they can.

Before I came into the pub trade as the owner of a tied lease I was among the most experienced restaurateurs around. I had worked in every position from kitchen to front of house senior management in some of the busiest restaurants in Britain, including River Cafe, Kensington Place, Joe Allens, Ed's Diner and two of Manchester's busiest places as well. I had managed two restaurants in the West End and been general manager of a high profile Mayfair club and restaurant for three years. Then I ran my own landscaping business for six years before I taking on a tied lease in 1995 (which was advertised as becoming free of tie in 1998, it did not). I invested £200K in the premises over a period of 16 years and left in 2011, my entire life in ruins, my life savings stolen from me, times ten, my family split up, had had two nervous breakdowns, appeared in High Court to represent myself after spending £47K on legal fees over a rent review I ended up losing to an arbitrator who took fictitious figures the pubco presented as evidence of my business's ability to afford against real income figures he ignored, according to RICS guidelines that is, to be evicted, bankrupted, made homeless for three years...

Mind you I can tell you that all that has been worthwhile now, because to see this vile English, for it is English not British, hegemony begin to come to an end has validated everything I ever stood up to against those bullies who treated me and so many thousands of other people as if they were medieval land barons crushing the lives of serfs...

As we're on about it here's a short film that CAMRA commissioned that covers a little of my experience, and a couple of other very competent not naive publicans who've also been shafted as a matter of course along the way...

This is a comment I left on The Guardian because it needed to be said 
It's a shame the article doesn't go into more depth following a little more in depth research. The legislation was drafted by publicans with politicians alongside and is NOT a case of 'government meddling' and is easily 20 years overdue. That the beer tie has been around for 400 years as some kind of benign deliverer of beer to market is a romantic myth promoted by the BBPA,, the trade organisation for Big Brewers and Pubco's, which does not represent a single independent publican or small brewer. The BBPA exists to promote the myth that the beer tie is fit for purpose. It is not and it has, like any unsupervised legal contract, a history of abuse as long as its existence. Which is why in the end it was voted against and passed against a strong Tory three line whip aiming to maintain the grotesquely iniquitous status quo. On Thursday Government conceded it would send the amendment to the Lords unopposed so, some unforeseen argy bargy by the pubco's aside, law will change in March 2015 and tied publicans will for the first time in history have some autonomy on the pricing of their beer supplies.
Anyone reading this now may like to know that a campaign group of publicans called Fair Pint and a forum called Licensees Supporting Licensees were involved in the background to the legislation being drafted. Just saying for the record because no one ever listens to publicans, they just talk about them as if they are cardboard cut outs. They are not, They are the people who generate all the profit for the entire pub sector.

"Biggest Shake-up for centuries" after 'beer tie' is scrapped ... Yay! We did it!

I've been too busy pushing along in the wave of helping reform happen in the pub sector to be able to post much recently. But in short we made history. Look forward to seeing the reactions to this, apart from the share prices of the major pubco's plummeting as they have been.

It's been long hours. It's been everyone pulling together in an extraordinary effort to get right accepted instead of might. It's been emotional.

For the time being, because the headline is the best I've seen, I'll let the Mail say it in their own words ...

This is a great victory for right over might but is at LEAST 20 years overdue and CEO's of some of these companies whose actions have ruined the lives of thousands of licensees and damaged almost as many communities should be in jail with the profits they stole from the nation sequestered back into the pub sector to help heal the irreparable damage they have done.