Sunday, 29 April 2018

Funny - I don't feel especially revitalised!

This cartoon tends to sum up how I view CAMRA's Revitalisation Project. Not that I was looking forward to the process - I wasn't particularly - but I recognise the feeling of something built up as being massive, only to think "Is that it?" afterwards.

This is what can happen with hype: reality often doesn't match the big talk. The changes CAMRA has adopted are significant certainly, but they are not the earthquake that some predicted. Neither are they a damp squib as claimed by others.

As a member, I sometimes listen politely to non-members pontificating about what CAMRA should be doing. When asked why the Campaign hasn't fully accepted craft beers, I've sometimes pointed to the name, Campaign for Real Ale; a campaign for something doesn't entail being anti-everything else. No one expects the Cats Protection charity to accept dogs, but that doesn't mean they're hostile to our canine pals. To be fair, the 'name' argument only goes so far, seeing that the Campaign has long accepted cider and perry but hasn't changed its name to CAMRACAP, which is just as well.

While I accept everyone has a right to an opinion, the Campaign and its members are not required to take notice of anyone but its own members, who after all are the ones who pay the bills. This isn't arrogance: most membership organisation operate on this basis, from trade unions and political parties to the National Trust - all of which I belong to. I'm not saying such organisations should always completely ignore what non-members say - simply that they're under no obligation to take what is said on board if they don't wish to. Ultimately, if you want a guaranteed say, put your money where your mouth is and pay the subs.

I don't think we need take too much notice of all of the predictions about where the changes will take the Campaign - the sheer variety of opinions suggests to me that the only forecast anyone can make is that none of us has any real idea where we'll end up. My own view is that, in the short term at least, things will mostly tend to go on much as before. Craft beer will appear at some CAMRA festivals - that's not really a big deal in the great scheme of things - but it is an inescapable fact that the Campaign is genuinely a bottom-up membership organisation whose activists on the ground are the same people as before the national AGM.

As CAMRA's new national chair Jackie Parker has said, "It's easy to tell others what they should or could be doing, when you have no responsibility or accountability for actually delivering what you say needs to be done." Quite.

I did write an article about the Revitalisation Project for the CAMRA column in the local papers, but it has little resemblance to this post; being based on a CAMRA press release, it's considerably more anodyne.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments, including disagreements, are welcome.
Abuse and spam are not and will be deleted straight away.
Comment moderation is installed for older posts.