The Nationalisation of a brewery & pubs in World War One. An idea whose time has come again?

In Uncategorized on April 9, 2020 by kmflett

The nationalisation of a brewery & pubs in World War One. An idea whose time has come again?

Among the long-reaching powers granted to the government by the 1914 Defence of the Realm Act was legislation regarding the selling and consuming of alcohol.

Licensing hours, the time when public houses were permitted to sell alcohol, had become more restrictive following the Intoxicating Liquor (Licensing) Bill of 1872. With the introduction of DORA they became stricter still. New laws meant that pubs were forced to close during the middle of the day to prevent all day drinking. The new hours saw establishments open initially between midday and 2:30pm, before staying closed until 6:30pm when they would then stay open until 9:30pm. Failure to observe these strict licensing hours saw landlords lose their licenses and pubs being forced to shut down.

Further to these licensing laws, additional restrictions were brought in regarding alcohol. Beer in particular was ordered to be ‘watered down‘ to make it less potent and reduce drunkenness. Additionally it became illegal to buy drinks for other people, thus ending the tradition of buying alcohol in rounds.

Roger Protz has highlighted how this fitted into Lloyd George’s long running temperance campaign. His particular dislike I suspect was that while he was of course a Liberal most brewers were supporters of and funders of the Tory Party (The Beerage)

The Carlisle State Management Scheme. I suspect only those of a certain age and people who live in Carlisle will have heard of it now.

During World War One the Government became concerned in particular about the impact of drinking on arms manufacture. Whether as Protz rightly underlines this was a genuine concern or just part of Lloyd George’s longstanding antipathy to beer and pubs is another matter.

As a result in 1916 the Government took control of pubs and beer supply in three areas. By far the largest was Carlisle where several breweries were shut and the remaining one became a State controlled one. The same applied to pubs in the area.

The plan was not to stop drinking but to control it. The pub managers had no interest in maximising beer sales and rules were introduced to underline the point. Between 1916 and 1919 ‘treating’, the buying of rounds was not allowed for example.

However the beer quality was thought to be good, and numbers of the pubs were redesigned by Harry Redfern, an architect influenced by William Morris’s ideas on arts and crafts. The State Brewery made a profit in every year it operated. It was privatised by Heath’s Tory Government in 1973 and bought by an earlier incarnation of Theakstons.

Given the quality and strength of beer that was brewed under regulations brought in by the Defence of the Realm Act in 1914 the State Brewery may have been an improvement, although I dont have details of the strength of beer produced at Carlisle in the early years of the scheme.

A music hall song on post-1914 beer makes matters clear however:

Lloyd George’s Beer, Lloyd George’s Beer.

At the brewery, there’s nothing doing,

All the water works are brewing,

Lloyd George’s Beer, it isn’t dear.

Oh they say it’s a terrible war, oh law,

And there never was a war like this before,

But the worst thing that ever happened in this war

Is Lloyd George’s Beer.

Buy a lot of it, all they’ve got of it.

Dip your bread in it, Shove your head in it

From January to October,

And I’ll bet a penny that you’ll still be sober.

Another area of operation for the State Management Scheme was the area around the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield Lock.

Four public houses and an off-licence were involved.  According to the interwebs, the premises returned to private ownership in 1922-3. Three of the four have been identified Greyhound, Royal Small Arms Tavern (Rifles)- currently boarded up- and Ordnance(demolished 1920s). The fourth is tentatively identified as the Plough Inn, Sewardstone (a McMullens pub still open).

The Greyhound is a going concern run by Hertford brewer McMullen who note that they have owned the pub since 1923.

Where the beer came from for the Enfield pubs I haven’t managed to establish, perhaps it was sourced from the Carlisle brewery, but so far I have no solid evidence on that. It appears that the canteen built at the factory, in part to keep workers away from eating in pubs, was run by the brewers Trumans.

The current crisis is of course configured slightly differently. Many breweries are still brewing and there is no initiative to reduce quality or strength. However all pubs are closed.

Perhaps its time to have another go at a State Management scheme at least as a trial. How about nationalising Wetherspoons?

An earlier version of this post appeared on the Culture Matters website

Carlisle State Management Scheme



The Glorious Revolution of 1688 & the end of Maundy Thursday Royal feet washing

In Uncategorized on April 9, 2020 by kmflett

The Glorious Revolution of 1688 & the end of Maundy Thursday Royal feet washing

While not much is made of it there was a revolution in 1688 in England.

William and Mary came to the throne. In the seventeenth century religion was far more central to national life than it now is for many. William, Prince William of Orange, was a Dutch Calvinist.

On Maundy Thursday 7th April 1689 people had made their way to Hampton Court hoping to be touched by the King and have their feet washed as had been the tradition. It was of course interrupted during the Commonwealth from 1649-1660 as there was no King available to do it.

William however declined to do this. As often the history is complicated.

The decision to stop feet washing was in part political. William fairly obviously had not arrived on the throne via some kind of Divine Right of Kings but because he had been appointed by Parliament through a process of revolution. Hence the idea that the monarch could somehow cure people by touching them didn’t fit. In this sense the change was progressive.

However William also disliked the idea of feet washing because it was regarded as ‘superstitious’ which was a code for Roman Catholic underlining the discrimination against those who hold that faith which has been an abiding feature of official British life since the sixteenth century.

The tradition of course was not so easy to get rid of as all that and the debate about whether Royal feet washing on Maundy Thursday was appropriate continued well into the eighteenth century.


Hirsute Campaigners warn on ‘excessive enthusiasm’ for Maundy Thursday ‘Shear’ tradition

In Uncategorized on April 9, 2020 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

9th April

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Hirsute Campaigners warn on ‘excessive enthusiasm’ for Maundy Thursday traditions

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, which campaigns against beardism, irrational prejudice against the hirsute, has warned against excessive enthusiasm for Maundy Thursday traditions.

The campaigners say that while the day before Good Friday is traditionally associated with the distribution of the Maundy Money and the washing of feet it is also known as Shear Thursday.

This refers to those who had given up shaving for Lent, cutting off their beards as the period of abstinence ended.

The BLF says that while there is no objection to trimming and styling an organic Lenten beard on Maundy Thursday shaving it entirely suggests excessive enthusiasm and is to be avoided.

BLF organiser Keith Flett said, Spring is a time of growth and as we announce the winner of the Beard of Spring poll on Easter Saturday, Maundy Thursday is not the time for beard shaving


As Bernie Sanders suspends his campaign a reminder of when he met Tony Benn

In Uncategorized on April 8, 2020 by kmflett

Bernie Sanders with the type of beard he should have grown,but now has time to


Tony Benn Diary Monday 10th November 2009

Bernard Sanders the Socialist Senator for Vermont came by with his brother Larry Sanders who is a Green Councillor in Oxford. Bernie is 67 and Larry 73. We went over everything- Obama’s victory,a possible surge in Afghanistan….


Bernie Grant’s maiden House of Commons speech 6th July 1987 #berniegrant20

In Uncategorized on April 8, 2020 by kmflett

Bernie Grant entered Parliament at the 1987 General Election. Below is his maiden speech made, appropriately, in a debate on a Tory Local Government Bill on July 6th 1987.

The themes he raises such as racism, privatisation and housing remain pressing issues still.

Mr. Bernie Grant (Tottenham)

I am pleased to be here representing the constituency of Tottenham and I am also pleased to follow my predecessor, Norman Atkinson, as Member of Parliament. Norman served the constituency well for more than 20 years and I shall be pleased if I am able to equal his fine record of service to Tottenham’s citizens. I wish to add my voice to the thousands of constituents in thanking Norman for his work on behalf of the people of Tottenham. We wish him well in the future.

For myself, as for Norman, local government and the needs of inner cities are of prime importance when representing a constituency such as Tottenham. Tottenham has almost 20 per cent. unemployment and almost half our citizens are from the black and minority ethnic communities. Such are the major characteristics of life in Britain today. Therefore, I was pleased to see that this Government, somewhat belatedly, had come to recognise the need for the inner cities and for their regeneration. What a wonderful opportunity this first Local Government Bill of the new Parliament would have been to address those problems. However, once again, they have got it wrong, I believe deliberately.

The Bill before us, in common with the 14 previous Bills on local government introduced since 1979, provides the wrong answers to the wrong questions about local government, its priorities and needs. The solutions the Bill provides are privatisation of local government services, an end to contract compliance and a reduced role for local government publicity. That is a recipe for more local government domination by lawyers and the courts and less by those professional officers who provide the necessary services for our people. Last week, The Guardian showed that even among Tory local authorities privatisation was unpopular. It reported that, these days, more councils are cancelling contracts to outside firms rather than extending them.

Ask the residents of London’s east end what the Government’s solution to inner-city needs means to them. It means the yuppification of docklands, putting two-bedroomed flats at £250,000, beyond the wildest dreams of local people. Yet living cheek by jowl with that is the unrestrained Thatcherite land of Spitalfields, with sweatshops, atrocious housing and dire poverty, so graphically brought to life last week by Prince Charles’ visit. Nestling beside both is Rupert Murdoch’s Wapping, the subject of our previous debate, and that other face of Thatcherism— Murdoch’s press—which simultaneously ​ welcomes yuppies and condemns Prince Charles for drawing attention to the poverty. No wonder the Government back Murdoch’s bid to take over the British press without restriction or inquiry.

To this Government, the solution to local government and inner-city problems is to increase freedom, but their definition of freedom is freedom of choice for those who have the money to opt out, and the freedom of the private sector employers to exploit low-paid workers. That is not the answer. We with experience in inner-city local government see no merit whatsoever in worsening services and driving down the wages and working conditions of ordinary people so that they become a new servant class to an influx of yuppies. Public services in our inner cities need to be improved under democratic control, not impoverished and handed over to outside profiteers and carpet-baggers, as the Bill proposes.

The improvement that is necessary costs money, and the Government must find it. We in the Labour party do not want the freedom that the Government propose for local authorities and inner cities because it is a licence for the few to exploit and impoverish. We are interested in real freedom for everybody, a type of freedom that liberates people from the yoke of poverty and the chains of racism that infect our inner cities. The fight against institutionalised and personal racism in this country must be at the top of the agenda for anyone who seeks to address inner-city problems.

However, in the Bill the issue of racism is an afterthought. The fact that the Bill allows section 71 of the Race Relations Act 1976 to be included in contract compliance proposals is a feeble gesture in the fight against racism because the Race Relations Act itself is feeble and in need of major reform.

Furthermore, in the same Bill, the Government propose to withdraw the power of local authorities to refuse to give contracts to firms that have trading links with South Africa. That gives the lie to any pretence by the Government that they are concerned about eliminating racism. It is further evidence of the Government’s intention to prop up the racist regime in South Africa.

Let us return to the United Kingdom, where black unemployment runs at two or three times the rate of white unemployment in inner-city areas such as Tottenham. Such discrimination cannot be allowed to continue. It should be the role of Government to stop it by taking strong and positive action to combat racism in employment and other areas. The proposals in the Bill are inadequate, and we shall oppose them vigorously in the later stages of its passage.

It is clear that the Bill represents a continuation of the neglect that the Government have shown towards the disadvantaged, which has resulted in urban violence. That is a tragedy, because unless the political system can offer some prospects, particularly to our young people and our young black people, they will find other means of expressing their frustration. As an alternative approach, let me refer to one estate in my constituency, Broadwater Farm. It is an example of what local government can do in an inner-city estate.

What has Haringey council done? We have embarked on skill surveys and on the economic regeneration of the estate through our economic development unit. We have provided jobs in an estate where there is 40 per cent. unemployment and where up to 80 per cent. of the black youth are unemployed. We have gone out of our way to ​ recruit local people to work on projects and in running essential council services. We have done that by inserting a clause into contracts for work on the estate, which states that local people must be employed wherever possible.

The architecture on the estate has major drawbacks, so we have employed architects to work with the community, taking on board the people’s aspirations for how the estate should be developed. We have improved the provision of public and community facilities by encouraging the participation of all concerned, including the police, in an open forum rather than imposing the ideas of so-called experts on that community.

What has been the outcome? There have been no more disturbances. The community spirit is high and people are confident. There is no graffiti on the estate. The local police chiefs publicly praise the co-operation that they get from the local community in improving relations.

Despite the chronic levels of economic deprivation, crime levels on the estate are at an all-time low and the police tell us that they are the lowest in Tottenham. Even the Department of the Environment uses the estate as a model of what community development can mean in practice, by bringing in visitors to the estate from home and abroad on a weekly basis. That approach is light years away from the cheapskate. mean-minded and corner-cutting solutions that the Bill offers the inner cities. That approach meets the needs of the inhabitants, not the needs of the fly-by-night profiteers.

In contrast to the measures proposed in the Bill, our approach in Haringey involves the community in controlling developments in the area and having the power of veto over those developments. By working with the community, we have been able to develop together in partnership and in confidence. The alternative suggested in the Bill and in the Government’s other proposal for the inner cities is to take power away from the people, to put it in the hands of faceless Whitehall bureaucrats and Tory politicians who have to pick up a map to find where inner-city areas are.

I believe that we are sitting on a powder keg in the inner cities. The Bill and future Government legislation could be the spark that ignites it. I do not want to come back to the House in a year’s time and say, “I told you so.” If that happens—I am trying to ensure that it does not—it will be the responsibility of this Government.


Beard of Spring 2020 poll closes 10th April at Midday. Hairs are being split

In Uncategorized on April 8, 2020 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

8th April

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Beard of Spring 2020 poll closes 10th April. Hairs are being split

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that voting will close for the coveted Beard of Spring Award on Good Friday 10th April at midday.

Competition is bristling for the traditional Easter accolade with the current leaders Pointless’s Richard Osman and Test Match Special’s Dan Norcross

Beard of Spring is the second of four seasonal awards that lead to the Beard of the Year in December.

The campaigners say that while the second seasonal award of the year traditionally focuses on new beard growth with Easter so late, the focus is more on those whose beards have appeared in a positive public light during the quarter.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, with just a short time left to vote hairs are being split at the top of the poll

Beard of Spring 2020 shortlist

Vaughan Gething, Welsh Health Secretary

Wayne Rooney, footballer

Mikel Arteta, football manager

Alun Wyn Jones, rugby player

Eric Cantona, philosopher

Daniel Norcross, broadcaster

Steve Bell, cartoonist

James Calder, CEO, SIBA

Jeremy Paxman, broadcaster

Roger Waters, musician

Richard Osman, Pointless


Bernie Grant d 8th April 2000. Anti-racist, socialist,beard wearer

In Uncategorized on April 8, 2020 by kmflett

Bernie Grant d. 8th April 2020. Anti-racist, socialist, beard wearer.

Were it not for the current situation I would be making the short way from my Tottenham residence to the old Tottenham Town Hall today to pay respects at the plaque marking the life of one of the great post-1945 political figures, Bernie Grant.

He died 20 years ago today after a period as leader of Haringey Council and then Labour MP for Tottenham from 1987, one of the first four black MPs to be elected in the modern era.

There is no question that Bernie made a significant impact on Haringey politics and well beyond which continues. He was the first black leader of an authority anywhere in Europe and while the example has been far too slow to be followed it was a landmark.

His fight against racism and opposition to the Thatcher Government when he was Council leader again set a template

I was Chair of Haringey Trades Union Council throughout the period that Bernie was Council leader and MP.

I recall particularly Election meetings where in those days we would invite the Labour candidate only to speak. Bernie was an inspiring and indeed an idiosyncratic speaker. Throughout the period he was pursued by the tabloid press (fortunately it was well before social media) and particularly the S*n who labelled him ‘Barmy Bernie’. We were always on the look out for ill intentioned types at these kind of meetings keen to twist an off-cuff the remark.

My connections do go rather wider. His brother was a trade union colleague in telecoms (as was his partner) and like myself an anyone but England cricket fan.

We have to accept I think that political figures like Bernie Grant come along only rarely in each generation. Remembering him 20 years after his death is important not least for the motivation it should give to continue the fight now.