With the general election a matter of weeks away, I’ve been pondering the politics of beer. From reading various blogs over the years, I’ve noticed that many of the views expressed in the comments can be loosely described as “Libertarian” in outlook. They’re not the majority, but they are certainly noticeable. Maybe those contributors merely shout the loudest, like the whackjobs who call in to talk radio stations.
I’ve also seen discussions online as to whether the CAMRA membership is more UKIP voter or sandal-wearing hippy; but beer is enjoyed by so many people that it’s only logical beer geeks come in a variety of political hues. Personally, I am very much to the left; for example, I favour state intervention in the interests of the public good, which I know is anathema to many (no doubt some of whom also railed against the enforced use of seatbelts). But even given my contempt for the current coalition government, I have to concede that its policies in relation to beer, such as scrapping the beer duty escalator and cutting beer duty by a penny a pint for three consecutive years, are positive, at least on the face of it.
It’s worth remembering that it was the last Labour government that introduced Progressive Beer Duty, widely believed to have encouraged the growth in microbreweries. But given that Labour are more likely to regulate the market – ostensibly in the interests of public health – and given the coalitions’s record outlined above, does this create a dilemma for the left-wing beer geek with regards to voting intentions? Probably not. I’m sure for most people this election is far more important than beer.
Labour’s current policy in relation to “alcohol-related harm” seems to centre on cracking down on low-cost, high-strength beverages, while there’s a suggestion they may ban sports sponsorship by alcohol companies. Fine by me. Particularly if the former is done in such a way that is nuanced, and doesn’t encompass drinks that while high in ABV, are not obviously targeted at dependent drinkers.
So is party policy in relation to beer a factor when it comes to which way you vote? No doubt beer geeks on the right will be happy to see Greene King-swilling, toad-faced xenophobe Farage holding the balance of power. Personally, I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Not for all the Greene King IPA on the world.
Image courtesy of Gareth Jones via Creative Commons on Flickr