Bar Man, by Jeff Hoyle, October 17, 2014

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I believe in America they are known as ‘Monday Morning Quarterbacks’, the guys who sit in bars with an answer for everything, but a deep seated unwillingness to ever get involved and make a difference.

You can spot them by their cries echoing from the tap room ‘It’s a waste of time’ ‘they are all the same’ ‘it won’t make any difference’. Whilst I am all for a good discussion, even argument over a pint, it seems to me that deeply held opinions sometimes need to be backed up by actions.

Contrary to what some believe, you can make a difference – look no further than the cut in beer excise duty, or the reopening of the Kings Head at Shouldham if you have already forgotten the scrapping of the incinerator.

Not everyone needs to stand for public office or start a campaign, but if you value democracy, (and if you don’t, I would be interested to know what alternative you suggest), I think there is little excuse not to vote every time you have the opportunity. That being accepted, how do you choose which way to cast your vote? I have always based my decisions on the issues. Beer and pubs are important, but things such as the future of the NHS, education, wages and taxes are topics that I think should also be taken into consideration.

However my choice will not be based on what and where candidates drink. We have been fortunate enough in West Norfolk to have in Henry Bellingham an MP who has enthusiastically supported CAMRA’s programme of pub and beer reforms and who was good enough to come along to the Coach and Horses to present our Pub of the Year award.

Recently the Lynn News published a letter, which I was very pleased to read, from the prospective Labour party candidate, Jo Rust also praising the pub.

Meanwhile on the national stage, just as William Hague’s boast back in the year 2000 that he used to drink 14 pints a day when he was a teenager is fading from the memory, along comes Nigel, never far from a pint and a cigarette, so hopefully whoever we elect next year will look favourably on our pubs and the beer served there.

I am even less likely to invent a backstory for one of the candidates drinking and eating habits and use that as a rationale for my voting choices, as apparently is the preferred method of the writer of a letter in response to Jo Rust’s missive.

If I understand his point correctly, he envisages her sat in Jack Straw’s Castle in Hampstead eating guacamole and presumably drinking something other than pints of real ale, and uses this fiction as a factor in deciding how he will vote.

It is a vision that is not likely to be based on truth, not least because Jack Straw’s Castle is now flats like so many other pubs. Interestingly it did have political connections, being named after one of the leaders of the 1381 peasants’ revolt and may be the site where he made a speech from the back of a hay cart (his castle). It was also a favourite haunt of Charles Dickens, who did so much for social reform in Victorian times and Karl Marx who is perhaps a rather more divisive character.

So when the time comes. Look past the personalities and their favourite drink and concentrate on the issues. Beer does play a part for me, though. For as long as I can remember, I have always called in for a pint on the way back from the polling station. See you there.