In December 2016, the Revitalisation Project published proposals to ease CAMRA’s stance on keg beer (which has historically deemed keg products inferior), to review the organisation’s structure and to increase its support for “real” cider.
The national executive subsequently stated it would not vote on the reforms until 2018, due to their wide-reaching scale. The delay, however, has now prompted former Revitalisation Project chairman and CAMRA founder Michael Hardman, former national chairman James Lynch, and author of the Revitalisation report Ben Wilkinson to stand for election. They believe that the reforms will help to mitigate CAMRA’s shrinking and ageing activist base and should, therefore, be a priority.
The three candidates hope to win three of the four available seats on the executive board and are urging the “progressive majority” of members to cast their vote in favour of the Revitalisation reforms.
Hardman said: “Where James Lynch, Ben Wilkinson and I stand apart from [the other candidates] is that we very firmly believe the Revitalisation proposals represent CAMRA’s last chance to safeguard its relevance and reputation. We want an end to the prevarication, an urgent vote on the proposals, and implementation of the long-overdue change this Campaign needs to wrench itself out of the mid-20th century and make itself fit for the mid-21st.
“Thanks to having presided over a huge consultation exercise, we know that the vast majority of CAMRA’s members agree with us.”
But he added that the “progressive majority” had not always used their vote in previous elections and urged them to get involved if they care about CAMRA’s future.
The radical reforms backed by the candidates include a pledge to “democratise” the organisation, which will mean giving all CAMRA’s members a vote on the recommendations.
Lynch said: “While CAMRA’s membership is larger than it has ever been, that is not being translated into more active members. On the contrary, many of our branches are severely short of volunteers and struggling to survive.
“One of the most encouraging things about the Revitalisation consultation was that it engaged large numbers of members – some very longstanding – who had not previously been inspired to get involved. All of those people have a vote in the national executive election and I would like to see as many of them as possible using theirs.”
Wilkinson added: “The recent moves to increase democracy in CAMRA are very welcome but, for them to have any real impact, people must use their votes and have their say. CAMRA belongs to all of its members, not just to a select few, and its future should be shaped according to their wishes.”