However I am the PPC for Burton, which is the best constituency in the country. It is the home of the British Brewing Industry and has a proud brewing tradition dating back over 1,000 years. Every part of the town has some historic link to Beer from the Marmite factory, using the yeast by-product from beer, to the village of Tutbury, where I live, and the castle where Mary Queen of Scots was caught as a traitor – sending messages to her followers via barrels of beer.
As the aspiring MP for Burton, I am also one of the few politicians in the country who can happily have her photo taken whilst drinking a pint and to be honest it would be somewhat disrespectful not to!!!
There are 2 major Brewers based in Burton-on-Trent – Coors & Marston’s. We are also lucky to have several micro-Brewers including the Burton Bridge Brewery and the Old Cottage. Each company produces distinctive beers which could only be made in Staffordshire, but all of them face increasing financial difficulties due to the current economic crisis and the tax and regulatory environment.
At the moment 39 community pubs are closing every week and most of them will never re-open. For those that are surviving they are watching and waiting for the next budget. This industry simply cannot afford to absorb another increase in the duty escalator and this year it could be as much as 10p on every pint. We need to be realistic. The duty escalator has not made a difference to binge drinking and if anything it has driven people to drink at home rather than the safe and regulated environment of their local.
I am incredibly proud of Burton-on-Trent’s brewing heritage which is why last week I launched a campaign to celebrate our town and our contribution to British culture. John Healey MP visited one of the niche breweries and enjoyed a pint of White Shield beer to help me launch the “Best of Burton” campaign, check it out at www.bestofburton.co.uk.
Beer is a bit of a political hot potato at the moment. But the debate is very much one-sided. Real Ale, Indian Pale Ale and Lager can and should be a normal part of our society and I for one am proud to stand up for the British Pint.
And for those you who want to come and help out in a marginal and make sure that we win the next election – all I can offer in exchange is a pint of my local product…