Pubs code: "We need to set emotion aside and work together"

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

Pubs code: "We need to set emotion aside and work together"

Related tags Want Future Greg mulholland

In my experience, the art of negotiation and debate is a fine one — being able to manage the situation in a professional and calm manner is crucial in getting your point across.

One of the many things I have noted since coming into the trade is the amount of emotion the pub sector inspires — and while emotion, and passion, for an industry is great, too much can undermine your argument and people start to lose sight of reason.

We’ve seen plenty of emotion in recent weeks — starting with Greg Mulholland’s performance at the Tenanted Pub Company Summit.

Earlier in the day, we’d had many calls for a reasoned and a sensible approach to the tenanted pub model and to move forward to a brighter future in partnership between the pubcos and the tenants.

Fine words, I’m sure many will agree, and they may just be words, at this moment. However, brighter futures are built on such words — peace treaties and agreements start with discussions and negotiations.

Then we had the debate. Mulholland is a figurehead for campaigners trying to change the system, but his performance last week makes me wonder for the future. His tactics and behaviour on the day, in my opinion, left a lot to be desired and, ultimately, that approach does nothing to take the sector forward and does not represent the pub campaigning groups in a positive light.

But of course to express such a view, as at least one of my colleagues subsequently did, and to witness the torrent of vile abuse and vitriol that came pouring in, is not allowed.

Heaven forbid that we might have a different opinion of the event to those who weren’t even in the room to witness it. How dare we express it.We are a trade magazine for the entire pub trade, not just tied tenants but those across the board — we aim to represent the broader views of what is happening in the sector.

However, for some who don’t like to hear views contrary to their own, the tactic of shouting abuse and threats seems to be the order of the day.

How’s that working out for you?

Ultimately, myself and my team’s aims are to support the trade and move it forward for a better future for all. Not everyone is going to get everything they want — there’s a word for that: compromise.

Admiral’s Kevin Georgel used a picture of Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness to illustrate the point that if those two could work together, surely the various sides of the pubco reform debate could find a way forward. It is shameful that at the moment we don’t seem able to.

When I joined the magazine, a number of campaigners reached out to me, claiming their desire for a change to the narrative — a move to one of reason and practicalities. Some of these are the same people baying on Twitter for my staff’s blood.


If you want to sit round the table and have a sensible conversation then people need to put their emotions to one side, grow up and stop with the name-calling.

There’s been appalling behaviour on all sides and we’re not dismissing any of that. But if we don’t draw a line under things and look to move forward then we never will. Personally, I know what I want. What’s your agenda?

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