Cummings announced his intention to stand for election to the organisation’s elected body last week, describing the proposals in its Revitalisation Project as “too little, too late”.
In an exclusive interview with The Morning Advertiser, Cummings elaborated on proposals in his 23-page election manifesto, which include scrapping JD Wetherspoon discount vouchers, and a blanket ban on sexist, racist or homophobic/transphobic behaviour and pump-clips.
Describing his own feelings towards the Revitalisation Project, Cummings said: “It has been a project that they have been looking at for over two years now, and nothing has come to the fore.
“I've spoken to people who worked on the document and they themselves weren't happy with it. They have to please members who are still stuck in the past of 50 years ago. They are just tip-toeing around the real issues.”
A more dynamic, progressive industry
Despite the organisation pledging to embrace all types of good beer, Cummings insisted more needed to be done to promote and celebrate all kinds of British brewing.
“I don't feel as though British beer is being given a fair platform by CAMRA, regardless of package type,” he said. "They are still in favour of cask ale, rather than quality as a whole. I would say that five years ago their continued focus on cask was still relevant, but the industry has moved on now; it's a lot more dynamic and it has progressed massively.
“The beer being brewed in the UK is probably among the best in the world, regardless of package type. By pigeonholing one thing, you are splitting the industry rather than bringing it together as a whole.”
Cummings also added his belief that broadening the focus of the organisation beyond real ale would naturally help improve its diversity, and insisted there would be a zero-tolerance policy towards discrimination under his tenure.
“By changing from just focusing on real ale to focusing on the beer industry as a whole I think that will naturally and organically draw more of a diverse demographic in as active members,” he said. “Diversity is not big on their agenda, but I will make it.”
Scrapping JDW tie-up
On the proposal to scrap Wetherspoon discount vouchers, the Tiny Rebel boss said: “I don't feel that CAMRA should be partnering with any one particular pub group, especially one that devalues cask beer.
“Wetherspoon does some things really well and it promotes cask ale massively, but then also there is the flip side of that in terms of price. What gives members a reason to join CAMRA? Should it be free vouchers and beer? I personally don't think so.”
Responding to Cummings' claims JD Wetherpoon chairman Tim Martin said: "We sell more cask beer than anyone else and try to keep standards high and prices low. We have supported Cask Marque and CAMRA for decades. We can't please everyone, but we're doing our best and are always open to new ideas."
On the subject of what his main priorities would be if elected to the national executive, the Welsh brewer emphasised the importance of “acceptance and education” and said he would “bring the organisation into the 21st century”.
“It is quite worrying the lack of understanding people within the organisation have about how beer is produced and should be served,” he said. “It's very much still based on opinion; it’s very subjective.
“In the wider scope of things, education really needs to be addressed and that is why I feel CAMRA needs an industry input; we have so many good breweries in the UK, let’s utilise them.
“The ins and outs of how that happens are still to be discussed, but we need to bring the organisation into the 21st century and use the technology available to us to inform and educate people.”
Cummings' full manifesto can be viewed online here.