Final Presidential Debate: could a beard help Trump?

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2016 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

19th October

contact keith Flett 07803 167266

Could a beard help Trump?


The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has posed the question of whether a beard could help improve Donald Trump’s ratings as he enters the final debate of the Presidential campaign with Hillary Clinton.

The campaigners say that any Trump beard would have to be certifiably genuine unlike his controversial hair.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, most BLF supporters are probably of the opinion that nothing, not even a beard, can help Donald Trump and they are content with that. Even so given how important image is in politics we thought the question worth posing.


Beard of Autumn poll enters final 24 hours

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2016 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

Media Release 19th October

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Beard of Autumn poll enters final 24 hours


The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that with the Beard of Autumn poll entering its final 24 hours England football manager Gareth Southgate continues to trail the designer for craft brewer Beavertown Nick Dwyer with David Baddiel third and Michael Gove fourth

The Beard of Autumn is the last seasonal Award of the year, with the Beard of the Year voted on in December. The shortlist for Beard of the Year- a hirsute institution featured on the BBC2 quiz show Only Connect- is published on 25th November

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, at the moment it doesn’t look like the outcome will be a particularly close shave which is unusual but there is still time to split hairs yet.

The poll is open now and will close at midday on 20th October with the winner announced on Friday 21st October


Beard of Autumn shortlist

Prince Harry- Royal personality

Michael Gove- Backbench MP

James Middleton- Royal related notable

Nick Dwyer- Beavertown Brewery designer

Colum Eastwood- SDLP leader

Nick Timothy- Advisor to Theresa May

James O’Brien- broadcaster

Gareth Southgate- England football manager

Kane Palma-Newport- Bath rugby player

David Baddiel- cultural commentator


The Discount Culture in beer & elsewhere

In Uncategorized on October 18, 2016 by kmflett

The Discount Culture in beer and elsewhere


In Victorian times it was called the slop trade. That meant undercutting good quality goods with cheaper, less well made items that however appeared pretty similar. The aim was to drive quality production down and perhaps out in favour of goods that sold more cheaply but in greater quantities.

The same business model is still around as is capitalism, as you will have noticed.

The latest blog by respected beer writer Matthew Curtis addresses the discount culture in what many call craft beer. He rightly sees it as a bad thing.

That doesn’t mean unfortunately that all the points he makes are absolutely to the point.

Firstly he seems to think that CAMRA- which I joined in 1975 and remain a member of- is the campaign for cheap beer. I must have missed that in the last 40 odd years I suppose. Agreed nowadays CAMRA offers Wetherspoons vouchers and some pubs do CAMRA discounts. I’m not a fan though more or less any membership organisation in any area offers membership benefits. I certainly use neither though it’s clear at CAMRA conferences (where democratic discussions and votes take place) that some members do like them.

Even so I’m not aware that CAMRA has any specific influence over the prices brewers charge for beer (beyond campaigning for duty reductions). It’s about keeping breweries and pubs open- something it has had some success in.

Matthew may of course have a good point that CAMRA prefers cheaper beer to more expensive beer but there may be some good reasons for this. Firstly because for decades there has been some element of over-charging for good beer by a minority. I’m sure most readers of this can think of an example or two when they’ve got into a bar and thought ‘how much?. Secondly because not everyone who likes good beer has a great deal of money. Pubs are relatively expensive compared to supermarkets, a matter that needs to be addressed but rarely is beyond just making the criticism.

Matthew then criticises with more justification Wetherspoons and its pricing policies. Clearly Tim Martin does undercut the competition and he does squeeze profit margins of small brewers. As a socialist I’m not keen on the way market capitalism works and this dog eat dog way of going on is not great. But the world is not always so black and white. Should you enter a Wetherspoons pub (I do so occasionally) you will mostly find them packed. Some people try craft beers they otherwise wouldn’t see and if they did probably wouldn’t pay the price charged. So Martin increases the market for craft beer albeit is much less than ideal ways and perhaps ultimately destructively so.

I don’t think that breweries should sell beer at cost or less in order to get market share, it drives down the whole market. It is certainly something CAMRA should campaign on (without becoming the campaign for expensive beer). For small brewers with little capital it is anyway likely to be the road to financial disaster.

For larger concerns, as elsewhere in market capitalism, different rules apply. In the world of very large private sector employers that I deal with as a trade union officer, things are often sold at cost or less. The idea is to get market share, drive the share price (and hence the value of the company) and in due course, it’s hoped, to get good profits.

Few if any craft brewers are in that league but broadly the same general rule applies. Beer may be sold at small margins to get in the market and drive market share. A good or bad thing? The question is slightly beside the point. You can either regulate the market to stop this or get rid of the market altogether. That takes organising and campaigning of course. In the meantime I’m not sure it’s great to criticise, in this case brewers, for dealing with the world as they find it.

There are always exceptions of course.

In the meantime thanks to Matt Curtis for writing a stimulating post.



Beard of the Year complete winners list #onlyconnect

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2016 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

17th October


Following a round on Beard of the Year on the BBC2 quiz programme Only Connect on Monday 17th October below is a reminder of the complete list of winners of Beard of the Year.

The poll for Beard of the Year 2016 opens on 28th November with the result known at the end of December

2015 Bryan Spooner

2014 Conchita Wurst

2013 Gareth Malone

2012 Robin Lustig

2011 Jay Rayner

2010 Ai Wei Wei

2009 Zach de la Rocha

2008 Rowan Williams & Tom Jones

2007 Robert Plant

2006 Monty Panesar

2005 Andrew Flintoff

2004 Andrew Flintoff/Paul Mackney

2003 Robin Cook

2002 Charles Clarke

2001 Jeremy Corbyn

2000 Frank Dobson


The Treason Felony Act, Chartism & the EU

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2016 by kmflett


Newspaper reports indicate that a Guildford Tory Councillor Christian Holliday has launched a petition to demand that when and if Britain leaves the EU anyone supporting continued membership should be prosecuted under the Treason Felony Act (as amended).

The current Act dates from 1848 when it brought together several earlier Acts and replaced the death sentence for treason with a felony- in practice at the time transportation to Australia.

The State had reason to do this. Juries were reluctant to convict where the death sentence was involved and in the revolutionary year of 1848 the State wanted convictions to frustrate any attempts at revolution. Hence the first two people to be convicted under the newly amended Act were the Irish Republican Chartist John Mitchel and the leader of London Chartism William Cuffay. An account of Cuffay’s Trial is here:

Whether 2016 is as revolutionary year in Britain as 1848 might have been remains in question,though presumably not in the mind of Mr Holliday



Campaigners say Pokemon more of a threat to conker games than tree disease

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2016 by kmflett

Campaign for Real Conkers

17th October

contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Campaigners say Pokemon more of a threat to conker games than tree disease

E8CWGN Playing conkers in England, UK - close up

E8CWGN Playing conkers in England, UK – close up

The Campaign for Real Conkers which promotes walk up and play conker games without undue reference to rules, has said that screen based games like Pokemon are more of a threat to conker playing than tree disease.

Scientists are reporting that a leaf month that gradually kills the trees remains active and that a canker is now also attacking them. In some cases trees become dangerous and have to be cut down.

Campaign for Real Conkers organiser Keith Flett said, scientists are telling us that in 15 years time there will be a serious lack of conker trees. The actual problem we have now is a serious lack of conker players. In many areas of the country conkers litter the ground near trees uncollected. Conkers can be an exciting game but the zeitgeist is with screen based games like Pokemon. We are working to change that.

The campaign held a conker free for all near the towpath area adjacent to Here East, on the edge of the Olympic Park close to Hackney Wick station on 16th October. People turned up with a match ready conker and played, unchecked. Result: Hackney beat Tottenham.

Campaign for Real Conkers: guidelines

1 choose your conker. It’s up to you. Select several from a nearby conker tree

2 check your conker for game readiness. If it can be squeezed between finger and thumb so it indents, discard it. It will crack and split on contact with another conker

3 Look for a conker with particularly hard or sharp edges

4 Once selected you can leave your conker as organic or you may bake it or soak it in vinegar. It’s entirely up to you. There is no such thing as ‘cheating’ in conkers.

5 thread your conker with twine by making a hole in it. Use a hammer or skewer and nail to do this. If the conker cracks, discard it

6 You are ready to play

7 Swing your conker towards your opponent’s conker with the aim of hitting it. You can do this under or over arm.

8 Take alternate goes between yourself and your opponent

9 Wearing gloves to protect the hands is frowned upon

10 The winner is the person whose conker remains most intact when both players decide to conclude the game


The Ambridge Socialist Poll Result: 11.25% back a Titchener(tastefully naked) Calendar. 67.5 say Aaargh

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2016 by kmflett

The Ambridge Socialist

16th October

Poll result: 11.25% back A Titchener (tastefully naked) Calendar 2017; 67.5% say aaargh


The Titchener Calendar 2017…

The Ambridge Calendar 2016 consists of a series of tastefully posed leading ladies of the village naked but prudently covered in key zones (mostly).

On social media Rob Titchener has promised a 2017 Calendar.

We asked if Titchener should be tastefully naked in the Calendar? The poll outcome is clear. 67.5% think Titchener needs to cover up, possibly up to and including with a paperbag over his head.

A hardcore 11.25% did back Titchener naked, perhaps on the basis that as Bob Dylan wrote even the President of the United States must sometimes have to stand naked.

More significantly 21.25% had constructive suggestions for what the pictures, month by month, in a Titchener Calendar might be. Some of these are listed below

Ambridge Socialist Editor Keith Flett said, the message to Titchener seems clear. A tastefully naked 2017 Calendar will not improve his standing in Ambridge. Then again, what could?

Suggestions for the Titchener Calendar

Making custard with a strategically placed apron

Riding to hounds, hat placed over a certain area

Striding to the wicket with his helmet carefully placed

In the Farm Shop a string of Tom’s sausages suggestively but strategically dangling

After the threshing machine ‘accident’

In prison uniform