|You'll never sup alone|
The Liverpool CAMRA Snowball Campaign to Bring New People to Real Ale has "ticked all the boxes" to win the first national CAMRA Membership Initiative Award. So said the Chair of the national CAMRA Membership Committee, Julie Squires, when she presented the award at a Bringing New People to Real Ale event at the Dispensary in Liverpool ... She praised Liverpool CAMRA for its path finding success in developing innovative and successful methods of Bringing New People to Real Ale, particularly with women and young people. The Snowball method of "bring a friend" had been very effective in spreading the real ale message and building a strong network of new contacts based on shared friendships.
The current committee wants to kill off this campaign four years after the branch earned the award because Snowball events are just an "exclusive drinking club". Well, knock me down with a feather: who'd have guessed that a CAMRA event might involve drinking?
Campaigning for real ale isn't just about earnest articles on the cask breather, methods of dispense, beer quality, and so on, important though such issues might be. It's about saying drinking real ale is enjoyable, so why not give it a go? To that end, it would include:
- A branch magazine that is entertaining - no one will read it otherwise.
- Putting on and working at beer festivals.
- Pub and beer awards - local and national.
- Publicising real ale pubs to the public, including in the Good Beer Guide, local guides and in my branch's case, weekly articles about beer and pubs in the local paper.
- Educating the public to view real ale as normal and not the province of bearded weirdos with sandals.
- It's even includes just going to the pub, drinking real ale and inviting others do the same, drinking being the best way of saving it.
The consequence of this internal conflict is the loss of an award-winning membership initiative as well as an award-winning magazine (reported here). The new Liverpool committee called a meeting with a week's notice to discuss the future of the branch magazine scheduled at 1.00 pm on a Sunday. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd conclude that the short notice and timing had been chosen to prevent maximum membership participation.
The action over Snowball has, like the proposed changes to the magazine, led to resignations, but I'm wondering whether these are seen as a price worth paying to get rid of an old guard with opinions clearly at odds with the current leadership. Surely this isn't the only way of dealing with dissent?