Greene King, the Lewes Arms and the right of protest. Part Two.

By Hamish Champ

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Protest, Greene king

My recent observations on the Greene King/Lewes Arms business certainly appear to have stirred up a plethora of comments, with many people believing...

My recent observations on the Greene King/Lewes Arms business certainly appear to have stirred up a plethora of comments, with many people believing I've misunderstood the basis of the protests of the last few months.

I accept that the 'picket' outside the pub wasn't anything like that employed by the miners and other groups in the Eighties, nor was I seriously suggesting it was, although as someone whose punk rock band played a number of benefit gigs for miners during the '84 strike I do have rather a mixed track record when it comes to this sort of thing.

As I mentioned in my original piece, as we rode up the narrow lane to the pub on our noisy - but unleaded - steel horses it became clear the protesters had already gone home for the day. I have been assured that had I seen and met with the individuals concerned I would have reached a very different conclusion to the one I came to in their absence.

My suggestion that the protesters were 'well-heeled' was based on admittedly limited evidence, namely listening to the frightfully well-spoken woman who appeared on the Lewes Arms item broadcast recently on Radio 4's 'You & Yours' - and on which same edition of the programme yours truly also made an appearance to discuss the affair and the corporatisation of the brewing and pub industries. I'm happy to acknowledge here and now that there were lots of 'not posh' people who regularly made their feelings known about the Harveys situation.

It has been pointed out that had the protest not escalated then Greene King wouldn't have been forced to capitulate. I accept this up to a point, but my concern was for the people working in the pub, as well as the cause for Harveys to be restored.

The staff I encountered in the pub didn't seem an especially happy bunch. Perhaps I was mistaken in putting this down as a symptom of the protest. Perhaps they were just miffed with Greene King's stance putting them in the 'line of fire' and were fed up with journalists asking questions (I'm never off duty, me). Or perhaps it was because they were working indoors on such a glorious day.

As for my suggestion that a candle-lit vigil be held outside Harveys' brewery, can I just say I was being ironic? To be labelled a 'tree-hugger' for this seems a bit strong, although I did see Led Zeppelin in 1975 - my first ever gig at the tender age of 14 - which makes me a bit of an old hippy in some people's books.

In conclusion, I did not mean to suggest that the good people of Lewes have been displaying Scargillian tendencies in recent weeks and I'm happy to stand corrected on the other points, with the exception of the tree-hugger bit. The more I think about that one the more it hurts.

And hey, look, you're probably going to get your much-loved beer back! And when you do let me know and I'll come down with all my motorcycling mates and we'll all have a big party to celebrate! Hurrah!

Related topics: Greene King

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