I could burble about the disastrously regressive nature of the George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review, the misrepresentation of how the economy got in this state and the lies behind the “all in this together” line. But I won’t. Lots of other people have done this better than I could. However, one little detail has caught my interest. A letter was printed in the Daily Telegraph last week, from 35 business leaders who wanted to voice their approval of George Osborne’s cuts…
Osborne’s cuts will strengthen Britain’s economy… (Daily Telegraph)
… and I didn’t initially pay much attention. Big deal, some rich blokes are pro-Tory… YOU DON’T SAY! Even when I followed a link to the Hangbitch blog and browsed the list, I wasn’t particularly surprised. They’re all either massive high street chains or huge technology companies or… well, actually I haven’t got a clue what half of those companies do.
But then I saw one name that made me blink and look again. Way down the list, “Michael Turner, Executive Chairman, Fuller Smith and Turner”. That’s Fuller’s to you and me, award-winning brewery behind London Pride and owners of some of the better pubs in London and the Home Counties.
What’s wrong with this? Well, on that Telegraph letter, you’ll also see representatives from Whitbread and Diageo, companies with histories on the bad side of brewing and pub ownership in this country… the Big Six which became the Big Four and once even looked like becoming an Even Bigger One or Two. Fuller’s have always been seen as part of the solution, the (mostly CAMRA-centred) push to lift British brewing out of its 1970s low point.
And that’s why it hurts to see their name on that list. Buying into the Fuller’s brand is so much more appealing than buying into the Asda, GSK or Alliance Boots brands. They’re by no means a small brewery any more, and they’re no corporate angels, but they’re still a vital part of the whole “real ale” world… a world where natural ingredients, local sourcing, carbon-friendliness and attention to quality and detail are important. It’s a world that stands in opposition to the brutal homogenisation and rationalisation of so much recent government policy (of both colours).
We should boycott everyone on that list, but with Fuller’s, there’s a dilemma for me. I make a point of supporting local businesses when I can, and that includes going to Fuller’s pubs… they’re “local” compared to the national Pubcos that fill most high streets and in the sense that, although centrally owned, each pub performs a unique role in its local community. I choose pubs where good quality beer is expertly kept and served, and that includes Fuller’s as a shining example. In boycotting Fuller’s pubs, I’m boycotting part of the alternative to so many of the companies on that list. That’s why, despite my jaded lack of surprise at 34 of the companies, I’m quite eye-poppingly angry at Michael Turner.