Look out Daily Wail, the gloves are off

Related tags Good beer guide Daily mail and general trust Daily mail

I hang my head in shame. Last week, I launched the 2006 Good Beer Guide, a disgraceful, near-pornographic tome that encourages people to go to that...

I hang my head in shame. Last week, I launched the 2006 Good Beer Guide, a disgraceful, near-pornographic tome that encourages people to go to that dreadful den of drug-dealing iniquity, the British pub.

I am part of the conspiracy of evil people who are attempting to destroy the moral fabric of the nation and, in particular, to hook impressionable young people on to the demon drink.

Nonsense? Not if you look at life through the distorting prism of The Daily Mail. The Morning Advertiser is right: it is time to come out fighting in defence of the pub and hit back at the poison being dripped into millions of minds every day by the Mail and its sister papers.

For months now we have been on the back foot as the Mail has lambasted its readers with wild, grossly exaggerated and dishonest stories about the likely impact of what it calls '24-hour drinking. Now we have to take the gloves off.

The Mail is a nasty, rancid sheet. In the 1930s it supported Hitler. It ran the infamous headline 'Hurrah for the Blackshirts in support of Oswald Mosley's home-grown fascists. That's a long time ago, but old and scurrilous habits die hard.

Consider the recent grotesque attack in The Mail on Sunday on the officers of the All-Parliamentary Beer Group. It said members received backhanders from the brewing industry and paid themselves inflated fees and salaries. It was total bunkum but the damage was done.

And how did the paper refer to the officers of the club? As '24-hour pub MPs, not only were they pocketing vast amounts of cash, but they were also part of the conspiracy to keep every pub in the land open round the clock.

I found it interesting last week, when the launch of the Good Beer Guide received unprecedented media coverage, that the Mail could find not an inch or two of space to report that more than 80 new breweries opened in the past year or to list the pubs that had received special awards from the guide.

That would be unthinkable. It would amount to fairness and balance from the Mail, a concept alien to all who work on the rag. Nothing must stand in the way of its campaign to convince us we are heading to hell in a handcart as a result of 24-hour drinking.

No doubt some Mail journalists live in St Albans, given its proximity to London. Perhaps they have noted and discarded the report in the local paper that two St Albans pubs have had their applications for extended hours thrown out by the magistrates. I saw in the window of one St Albans pub, the Blacksmiths Arms, a notice saying it had applied for one hour's extension during the week and the ability to open until 1am at weekends.

So two pubs in my town will not open for any longer and another one, popular with young people, will open if its application is successful for a modest few additional hours. Not exactly '24-hour drinking. I have no doubt the same story is being repeated the length and breadth of the country, but it's a story that will find no space in the Daily Wail and the Wail on Sunday.

So, as the MA urges us, let us bang the drum for the good old British boozer. It's a nice place. Going to the pub is like putting on a pair of comfortable slippers.

Pubs offer a warm welcome, a decent pint, good tucker and pleasant company. It helps break down Britain's still pervasive class divisions. It welcomes one and all, regardless of income, race or religion.

And it is run by that backbone of the community, the publican, mine host, the guv'nor, hard-working, dedicated and decent. He's not a drug dealer but a dispenser of small pleasures. He can lose his licence and his livelihood if he keeps a disorderly house. He encourages modest and sensible drinking.

The pub is one of the best things about living in Britain. Just ask the overseas tourists who flock to them on their visits. If the Mail defames British pubs, it defames Britain, too.

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