More than 1,000 prospective MPs, and even the two top contenders for Prime Minister, can agree on one thing ahead of next week’s election – support for the Campaign for Real Ale’s calls to stand up for Britain’s pubs, breweries and beer drinkers.
Less than one week before polling day, the Labour Party are leading the pack as most pub and beer friendly, with 292 election candidates pledging to ‘Support well-run community pubs’, ‘Promote Britain’s 1,300 breweries’ and ‘Represent pub goers and beer drinkers’.
Labour are followed closely by the Green Party (264), with Liberal Democrats in third place (225), Conservatives in fourth (160), and UKIP bringing up the rear in fifth (118), although famously pro-pub UKIP leader Nigel Farage is among those pledging support.
Tim Page, CAMRA Chief Executive commented,
“With more than 170,000 members, CAMRA is the largest beer consumer group in Europe and we are uniquely placed to represent the views of beer drinkers and pub-goers in the UK. Whilst CAMRA remains strictly non-party political, we are pleased that in recent years Parliament has listened to our concerns and made some positive steps towards growing the British beer industry. It is extremely heartening to see over 1,000 prospective MPs now pledging their support for our campaigns should they be elected.
“With 29 pubs closing per week it is clear that much more needs to be done to help this industry not just survive, but thrive. We want to see the next Government grant planning protection to all pubs in England, freeze beer duty for the whole Parliament and support small cider producers.
“We are delighted that the 10,000 emails CAMRA members have sent to candidates have delivered strong cross party support for community pubs and real ale. Whatever the election result next Thursday, we can be assured there will be MPs fighting our corner.”
In a letter to CAMRA, Conservative Party leader David Cameron committed a future Conservative Government to “extending the length of time communities have to purchase these assets [pubs] and require owners to set a clear ‘reserve’ price for the community to aim for when bidding. We will also set up a Pub Loan Fund to enable community groups to obtain small loans”
David Cameron also commented, “Conservatives believe strongly that pubs are at the heart of communities, supporting local jobs and boosting the local economy. They play a crucial role in the social and economic life of our nation.”
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett has gone on record as saying “I’m supporting CAMRA’s manifesto for pubs and real ale, as is the whole Green Party”.
In a letter to CAMRA, Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband has said:
“In Government, we will ensure that the new Pubs Code has teeth and give communities the power to protect their local pubs and other cherished establishments from being bought up and turned into supermarkets – a fate that has affected two pubs a week in recent years – by allowing local authorities to determine development rules and changes to the permitted ‘uses’ of buildings locally.”
The Liberal Democrats have expressed similar support for planning protection for pubs in their manifesto, something which CAMRA says is a huge loophole in the current planning system, promising to “protect community assets like pubs by bringing forward Community Right to Buy. We will ensure planning permission is required to convert a pub into alternative uses”.
In the UKIP manifesto, the party commits to: “Offer tax breaks to smaller breweries to encourage micro-breweries” and “keep the current excise duty scheme that exempts from duty cider and perry made by small domestic producers”.