Sunday, 26 August 2012


A lot has been written recently about pub closures in the UK, either for urban development as in the case of the Brewery Tap in Peterborough (a campaign to stop the bulldozers knocking down the Brewery Tap, as part of Peterborough’s North Westgate development has been running for at least 6 years) or as a result of financial sustainability – some pubs just can’t make ends meet in today’s harsh economic climate. The Brewery Tap, near to both rail and National Express stations, is a welcome bolthole after the 4+ hour coach trip on the X1 from Gorleston-on-Sea…

Recent concerns have rightly been expressed about the current hike in beer duty – and in particular the Beer duty escalator – which sees around 5% added to the cost of your pint each year as an automatic increase. In fact the legislation means that beer can be set at 2% above the current inflation rate each Budget and as a result Beer duty has now risen by 42% since the escalator policy was introduced just four years ago. It has meant the loss of over 5,000 jobs this year in the brewing industry, and hundreds of pub closures. A third of the cost of my pint now goes to HM Exchequer. 
Wonder whose minding
the kids?
Chloe Smith MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, in a staggering piece of flawed logic has said “The duty increase forms a vital part of the government’s plan to tackle the debt left by the previous government. It would be worse for everybody if we did not tackle that debt. I mean beer drinkers, cider drinkers, spirit drinkers, wine drinkers, brewers and publicans.”

It would seem therefore that as a beer consumer I have an obligation to bail this country out from the financial mess caused by continued Government mismanagement and greedy bankers and at the same time have faith in an administration whose leader is not averse to leaving one of his offspring in a public house (at least it was open) and handed over £650m of UK money to help schools in Pakistan, whilst freezing funds for the maintenance of schools in the UK. It seems that the UK taxpayerr subsidises MPs' bars and canteens in Westminster to the tune of £5.8m a year. Another kick in the proverbials for the beer drinker! Surely subsidised parliamentary bars are now an anachronism if we take Chloe Smith’s comments into account concerning our economic plight. I suggest Chloe Smith turns to somewhere closer to home as a proving ground for her plan to continually hike beer prices. Where better than the House of Commons bars? Stick the price of a pint in the Strangers' Bar at Westminster up to a tenner, and see how it affects beer consumption in the House?

I have paid sufficient tax on my beer since my teens to fund half an Olympic village, at least 5 Royal Navy Sea King helicopters and an NHS maternity unit in Runcorn! I am now expected to contribute to this and previous Government’s mismanagement of the economy - a situation not of my making - by an unfair hike in the price of a pint each fiscal year.


Brewery Tap
80 Westgate
Tel: 01733 358500

Friday, 10 August 2012


It always happens doesn’t it? You’re in a good mood and maybe life isn’t so bad after all? You’ve got the feel good factor; happiness abounds. Then somebody comes along to p*ss on your strawberries!

Singer Morrissey (is he still going?) describes the home reaction to the success of Team GB at this summer’s Olympics as nothing more than "blustering jingoism" and comparing the mood in the UK to Hitler’s Germany in 1939. The latter statement is presumably apocryphal and has little if any evidence base attached to it – Morrissey was born in 1959.

Whilst the nation has largely got behind Team GB’s medal-winning exploits, the ex-Smiths front-man remains impassive to the bonhomie that has engulfed the Kingdom. In a web address to his fan club, he writes: “I am unable to watch the Olympics due to the blustering jingoism that drenches the event”. The Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now singer (Miserable? You don’t say!) asked: “Has England ever been quite so foul with patriotism? The 'dazzling royals' have, quite naturally, hi-jacked the Olympics for their own empirical needs, and no oppositional voice is allowed in the free press. It is lethal to witness.”

Morrissey, who left Britain to embark upon a European tour after complaining that he had not been invited to participate in the Opening Ceremony, said London was being “suddenly promoted as a super-wealth brand” as the rest of England “shivers beneath cutbacks.” Why would you invite this doom-merchant to gig at an event as celebratory as the Olympics Opening Ceremony anyway? It would be a massive turn-off! Remember this is a bloke who prances about on stage with a bunch of gladioli shoved down the back of his trousers! If you ask Joe Public if they would prefer to watch a spectacular Olympics Opening Ceremony that showcased aspects that have shaped our Kingdom in such a dramatic fashion or sit through a 90 minute Morrissey concert – I think I know what the answer would be! Morrissey has undoubtedly misjudged the mood of the nation.

He confuses patriotism with national pride. This is not 1915 England at war with Bertie Bosch. Lord Kitchener does not need me. I have not offered to take the King’s shilling. Jingoism is extreme patriotism usually expressed in terms of aggressive foreign policy; typically a practice used in times of conflict to safeguard national interest. What we are witnessing is an understandable welling of British pride in our athletes – it has bugger all to do with jingoism, in all honesty.

Highfield Hotel 
Marton Road
Tees Valley
Tel: 01642 817638