Thursday, 12 October 2017

Free Beer For The Workers

The web today has sites saying that the Conservative Party is now the Soft Left while the Labour Party is becoming the Hard Left. Debating this could be complicated and it is either too early or too late in the day, or both.

The essence of these is that promises, promises are made that this, that,  or the other will be provided for all, most, some or a few "free". Which and what are the subjects of some shifty oratory but the idea is that you will get something for nothing.

At least what appears to be nothing to you. It may be that like the added extras which we are familiar with you will be paying but via a different route. As this might involve agencies, government departments or "services" it adds to the real cost, but this unlucky feature is never mentioned.

There is nothing new about this. The picture above is from a tablet of around 5,000 years ago in ancient Sumeria, as in Egypt, and deals with beer rations for the labouring class. Because it is old we might think it good, but I wonder what the beer was like and whether the workers might not have preferred some silver in the hand and a choice of better beers.

I recollect at a political meeting during an election in 1951 a local Layabout M.P. was asked the question of why the workers might not have free beer or at least cheap subsidised beer because of all the profits of brewing and the notorious wealth of the brewing families. This was a town then that still had an active Temperance Movement among the various congregations.

He was a barrister of some standing with a gift for words and the authority of a man who had spent quality time in the law courts and in the cabinet and government. More to the point a couple of the brewing families gave valuable financial support to the Labour Party by various means not apparent to the public albeit rather better known at Westminster.

A great deal hung on his answer, especially the size of his majority in a marginal constituency. He went into deep thoughtful mode and agreed with the questioner that is was a subject that needed examination and perhaps action. But then there were many issues and opinions. Perhaps a Royal Commission might consider it and make expert recommendations on which legislation could be made.

One of which was perhaps greater taxes on the brewers, offset by better regulation and allowances for reduced prices for their products. It would be nationalisation but under another name. This kept the party faithful happy. The State would take control of beer for the good of all.

He was lucky, the meeting had run late and the Caretaker was jingling his keys so we departed, some of us in a hurry. After all, it was getting close to closing time at the nearest pub's.

I was gasping for a quart or two of Everard's best.


  1. It's a while since I sampled a pint of Everard's. Still a family business apparently.