Readers have only until Friday left to see the exhibition in Carlisle’s Old Town Hall on the successful State Management Scheme, the 200 nationalised pubs and brewery in our area which was destroyed by the Tories in 1971.
The SMS was living proof of the superiority of public ownership, paying a profit to the Home Office every year since 1927. A table shows the award-winning Carlisle State Bitter, Keg and Mild offered a higher specific gravity and alcohol content than the usual bland brews for a third cheaper.
It would have been even more successful under democratic control by the staff and customers instead of the Whitehall bureaucrats who prevented it from advertising and selling outside the area. The 20 beers from other brewers on sale in our pubs were no match.
The state pubs were real social centres for local communities, with their own sports teams and regular entertainment (my Dad, Tommy, performed in many of them). Sadly, “entrepreneurial free enterprise” has since managed to kill most of them off.
The 1970 Tory election campaign was largely funded by the “Big Seven” brewery companies, who got their payback with the privatisation of the SMS (today they are financed by the hedge funds). The Labour Party, then a workers’ party, answered “We believe that if a few firms are able to dictate to the government in this way they should be taken over.”
This was the first privatisation which paved the way for Thatcher and Blair/Brown to plunder the common wealth, but it was fought against by the working class of Carlisle. I wrote the leaflet for the LP and trade union campaign which was distributed all across town.
How far Labour has since abandoned its socialist principles and the interests of workers is shown in the contrast between its support for privatisation today and its stance then. A regional conference of the LP held in the Viaduct Hotel adopted my resolution, including the following: “The denationalisation of the Carlisle pubs and brewery is part of the Tory plan to hive off all publicly owned industries and hand them over to their friends in big business...We demand not only the retention of the publicly owned pubs and brewery, but the extension of nationalisation to all the breweries, in particular the big seven brewery monopolies, under democratic workers’ control, with compensation being paid only on the basis of proven need.”
As passengers, utility consumers and even as socialisers we are paying the price for this failure every day.
Carlisle Socialist Party