Tuesday, March 03, 2009

LabourList: Kerry on Post, Lucy on Pubs, Mark on E-Marketing

Kerry McCarthy MP has written a champion long post about the post here and Lucy Powell, our PPC, has mused at some length about local pubs here.

Almost inevitably I suppose I spent some time as a student doing Christmas postal rounds. In and around Hartcliffe, Bristol as it goes. Not far from Kerry's patch in fact. And a good number of my teammates and clubmates at Salford Harriers are posties. Kerry's post is a big of a head empty and doesn't quite reach a conclusion. But while it rightly questions whether Mandy's proposal is the only way to achieve modernisation I'd say it's tramping round the houses to the yes lobby on the Hooper proposals.

Almost inevitably I suppose I spent some time as a student responsible for running bars, and also for drinking several of them dry down the years. I've already blogged about the Tory and Industry campaigns to "save our pubs". The one an exercise in dog whistling about tax in general and collecting signatures, the other a front for multinational capital.

While their supposed central concerns are saving pubs, with some mention of addressing binge drinking and loss leading supermarkets ... they actually do no such thing.

Sharp intake of breath. I think the SNP proposals in Scotland are far more rigorous and far more targeted than either the escalating beer tax from the Treasury or the booze industries campaigns, whether via Tories or CAMRA.

The alcohol industry's excess profits and the greedy business models that drive these - including aggressive discounting to the grocery and off trade, pricing cartels, excessive rents, unfair tying deals pushing up the price for the A3 trade, are the greatest problems we face in saving community pubs.

Of course the stepped tax may be the last straw for some pubs. But it's not the sea to drink. It's relatively trivial. And faced with an overburdened camel - famously able to go for days without drinking - we could and should take other parts of the beast's burden away.

Labour and the Trade Unions should start our own pub campaign. Mark Hanson, also writing on Labour List, compared and contrasted the candidate/party owned Obama web 2.0 effort, with the government owned Number 10 petition site. Labour - locally, regionally, nationally and across the whole union - should be collecting contacts as a generality, and identified by their interests, including saving pubs and post offices:

We know from Obama's campaign that all of their success was derived from the fact that they put capturing email at the centre of everything they did and then using these email addresses wisely to drive both fundraising and mobilisation. For example, their promise to let people who gave them mobile phone numbers know their VP choice first (and the fact that they carried out this promise by sending a text message at 2am because it was in danger of leaking to CNN first).

Compare this with the No10 petitions site - done on a Government platform when it could so easily have been done as Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party on a Party platform. 8 million email addresses are now sitting in Downing Street that can't be touched by us (and indeed aren't being used effectively by them) and, worse still, will be handed over to the Tories when they next get into power.

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