Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Turning the Page

Following the fallout from the Campaign for Real Ale’s recent AGM, which saw the organisation moving to support  types of beer which don’t always meet the criteria for “Real Ale”, CAMRA finds itself mired in another controversy.

This follows the recent resignation of Chief Executive, Tim Page, who has been at the organisation’s helm for the past three and a half years. Tim was appointed in 2014 to succeed Mike Benner, who without doubt was the most successful CEO in CAMRA’s history. Mike moved across to the independent brewer’s organisation  SIBA, in order to take on the role of Managing Director.

Mike Benner was always going to be a hard act to follow, so Tim Page was almost certainly on a hiding to nothing when he stepped into Mike’s shoes. Coming as he did from the Charitable Sector, Tim had little experience of campaigning, although he did have considerable skills in fundraising and signing up new members to the charities he worked with.

His appointment certainly raised a few eyebrows at the time, and ruffled a few feathers as well, but by concentrating too much on increasing CAMRA membership, there were concerns that Tim was missing the bigger picture. There was also criticism, which was not entirely unfounded, of a lack of direction within the organisation and, on a more personal level, he was accused of having too cosy a relationship with the Pub Companies.

Just over a year ago, I wrote a post entitled “It’s more than just a numbers game,” in which I criticised CAMRA’s obsession with increasing membership numbers and asked just how many of these new members would play an active role within the Campaign? Unsurprisingly there have been no answers to this and other questions, which does rather turn the spotlight onto the departing Chief Executive’s decision to step down after just three and a half years in the role.

Page is reported as seeking to return to the Charitable Sector for the last few years of his working life, so that he can help those most in need, and in a statement, CAMRA’s National Chairman, Jackie Parker said, “Tim has made a considerable impact during his time as our Chief Executive. The past three years have seen the Campaign engaged in a major strategic review of its purpose and positioning within the sector, and Tim has provided advice and support to the volunteer leadership throughout that process”.

The national press were not so charitable, if you’ll pardon the pun, and pinned the blame for Page’s departure on the failure of getting all six of the Special “Revitalisation”  Resolutions passed at April’s AGM.

Away from the press spotlight, Ms Parker was also rather more forthright. In an email to members she said, that whilst Tim had been instrumental in executing a major strategic review of CAMRA, this action had aroused strong passions and unsettled many members.
She countered this by saying that, “The decisions taken at last month’s AGM and Members’ Weekend mean that the Campaign will be in a stronger position to recruit active members, and to continue to campaign effectively.” Jackie went on to thank Tim, on behalf of the National Executive for his contribution to the Campaign during his time with CAMRA and wished him all the very best for the future.  
So where now for CAMRA? There are those in the Campaign who will be glad to see the back of Tim Page, as he certainly aroused strong passions. On the other hand there are many who are grateful for the drive and determination he showed in championing the “Revitalisation Project”, which was aimed at modernising CAMRA and bringing the organisation into the 21st Century.

So let’s leave the final words to Mr Page, who said in a statement, “I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to be part of CAMRA, which is a truly remarkable organisation. The past 42 months have seen the Campaign maintain its effectiveness in campaigning and lobbying for real ale, cider and perry to be available in every community across the UK; and for those communities to continue to be served by pubs, which provide wide range of benefits for individuals and society as a whole”.
“I am grateful for the friendship and support that I have enjoyed from people across the sector, and look forward to keeping in touch with friends within and outside CAMRA”.



Russtovich said...

As an outsider there is nothing I can really add to this.

I will note though, that many organisations all over seem to be suffering from the changing times as it were. Maybe this has been true throughout history and I only see it now that I'm of a certain age. :)


RedNev said...

Tim Page's appointment was in line the increasing tendency to employ people who may have experience at senior levels of management but who aren't experienced in the specific area they are recruited to. The idea is that management skills are all transferable. Senior civil servants are often now recruited from outside industry, and quite a few travel the other way; it's a similar story in local authorities, the health service, and education, where unqualified teachers can get jobs just because they used to be in the armed forces.

It is in my opinion a myth that all that senior managers need to know is general management, without regard for the purpose of the business, service or even charity. Tim Page was such a man. Competent certainly, but I never got the impression that he engaged with what CAMRA is about; I felt he saw it as an administrative rôle. The outcome of the Revitalisation Project hasn't shaken the world - indeed, the world, assuming it noticed at all, has just shrugged its shoulders and said, "So what?"

Perhaps it's the realisation that, under his stewardship, CAMRA has just spent a lot of time and money on something that probably won't make the ground-breaking changes that we have all been hyped up to expect.

Stuff the 'talented generalist' approach to leadership: let's appoint someone who is seized (as Sir Humphrey would have put it) by our aims.

Stono said...

its funny in a way that I think sums up alot of his tenure as CEO, his leaving statement is probably the first time Ive seen him use the words "real ale".

Martin Taylor said...

Talking of Sir Humphrey, I think the Sam Smiths Chairman should be given the job. He'd get subs back to 1980s levels.

ETU said...

Very interesting general point that you make, RedNev.

The approach's proponents would seem to assume that all organisations are essentially feudal, rather than co-operative in nature.

If you accept that, then yes, who better than Rees-Mogg for PM eh?



Professor Pie-Tin said...

I'd be up for the Moggster as PM.
At least he stands by his views no matter how unpopular they might be to the chattering classes.There's a lot to be said for honesty and principles in politics these days.
As for Tim Page you'd like to the think the head of CAMRA would have let it be known he likes to go out and get pissed occasionally although I suspect someone who wants to devote the remaining years of his working life to the charitable sector is unlikely to be that person.

Paul Bailey said...

So it looks like we’re all agreed on the wisdom, or otherwise, of bringing someone from outside, into an organisation purely on the strength of a specific skill-set. I think of all the commentators, Nev has nailed it, as CAMRA’s departing CEO never came across as engaging with the organisation.

I think, that despite the obvious pitfalls, some form of modernisation was needed but unfortunately, as the Revitalisation exercise discovered, CAMRA opinion was pretty much split down the middle regarding the merits of modernisation.

Against this background, it was something of an achievement to get five of the six resolutions passed especially as they required a 75% majority in favour. If only another departing leader, who also fell on his sword, had insisted on the same thing, then the country wouldn’t be in the mess it is today.

This leads us on to the Prof’s comical suggestion that Lord Snooty would make a good PM. This just shows the depths this country has fallen to. No wonder Britain has become a total laughing stock as far as the rest of the world is concerned.

Prof, accept the fact there is no honesty or principles in politics today; it’s everyman/woman for themselves and party above country. With a totally unprincipled harridan in charge of Her Majesty’s Government, and a silly old man, who should go back to his jam-making, in charge of the opposition, the country is totally f*ck*d. I’m just pleased I’ve only got a few more years in my present post, as the way things are going the UK is heading for total disaster.

Professor Pie-Tin said...

Paul,I think you're being a tad Private Frazer with your doom-mongering.
It seems to me that Blighty is ticking along okay at the moment and all those other doom-mongering warnings of Project Fear haven't come to pass.More people are in work than ever before,all the opinion polls among industry and commerce are broadly optimistic for the future and there's massive inward investment into the country from foreign enterprises keen to invest in Britain.
Contrary to warnings that Brexit would make Britain an unpopular place the number of foreign students applying to UK universities has risen beyond 100,000 for the first time ever this year and there are more EU nationals working in the NHS than ever before.
Of course the country is not without its problems but then what country isn't and Britain has had similar problems for as long as I can remember.
As for Prime Ministers most of them in our recent history have been professional politicians who have never been successful business people.
Whatever you might say about Rees-Mogg,or Lord Snooty as your rather sanctimoniously call him,whilst he did come from a wealthy background and through Eton and Oxbridge,he forged a successful career in the City and became independently wealthy investing in the rather tricky area of emerging markets.
And it seems to me rather like Trump in American Britain needs a businessman in charge of running the country rather than a professional politician.
I admire the Moggster - and so do a considerable number of the electorate and not all Tory - because he is unafraid to stand by his views on gay marriage and abortion.
Unlike,say Tiny Tim Farron and other political lightweights such as Nick " we'll oppose tuition fee increases " Clegg.
I agree with you on May and Corbyn - it's a shame that at a time of momentous change in this country's history the leaders of both main parties are the worst in living memory.
But heading for disaster ? I certainly hope not as next year Mrs Professor Pie-Tin and I are selling up our successful business built up during the traumatic days of the economic crash in Ireland and moving back to dear old Blighty.
If you really wanted to see a country that was totally f*ck*d you should have lived here when the country literally had no money to pay anyone and had to go begging to the IMF/ECB/EC to be able to fill the ATMs.
100,000 mainly young Irish people have left the country since then and guess where lots of them headed to ?

ETU said...

Brevity is, indeed, the soul of wit...

RedNev said...

There is so much Prof that I could dispute there (in fact, pretty much everything you've written), but I'll just state that standing by your views is not in itself enough to deserve admiration - much more than that is required. Many of history's vilest characters were consistent in what they believed in.

ETU said...

Where's that Mudge, to bemoan off-topic political tub-thumping when you need him?

Matthew said...

Back on CAMRA, I'd like to hear what practical difference the changes made at that AGM will actually make. Focus of branches will still be on choosing best places for the Beer Guide, updating WhatPub, awards for Pub of the Year, and those infernal beer festivals, plus some politicking over alcohol duty and tenants rights at the centre. Genuinely not clear what difference any of it makes.

Ian Worden said...

I'd agree with Matthew although I would add protests against pub closures as a part of branch activity. However, I get the impression that unless a pub is 'used' regularly by active members, then often local branches hear the news too late to be able to do anything effective. Quite often, concerned locals get the ball rolling and CAMRA comes along later but in some cases seems to want to snatch the credit if the protest succeeds.

Jackie Parker refers to putting CAMRA in a stronger position to recruit active members, but surely it would be easier to first 'activate' the 90% plus who are passive. What they would actually do is anyone's guess and I think the choice of rooms in which to hold local meetings, at least without a fee, would be sharply reduced so perhaps defeating the object. I do wonder how branches in more rural areas manage to survive given the problems of getting around by public transport.

In my case I have been a member since 1981 (and a Life Member since the late 80s) but haven't been 'active' since the mid 90s. The branch AGM last year was in a pub which I often visit but not on a day that I could go - the manager told me later that about 30/40 people were there, yet this is an urban London branch with well over 1000 members. I think 40 would be the most the room could take so whoever chose the venue had a good idea of the likely level of interest. The attendance figure is about what I remember from AGMs in the 80s, so no progress there.

To go back to Tim Page, I suspect that he would have decided before the meeting what he would do if one or more RP motions were rejected and a delay of over a month in actually resigning probably suggests that a lot of discussion took place to try to dissuade him. It is not impossible that the changes in the NE will bring changes in approach that he felt he might not be able to live with, and leaving now does give a good chance of making his mark elsewhere before retiring. I don't know if CAMRA operates a 'gardening leave' policy but it would be quite telling if he moves straight into another job.

Paul Bailey said...

Well Prof, let’s not open up the whole Brexit debate again, although I do think the Private Fraser analogy is quite amusing. What I will say is when the government’s own impact studies demonstrate that the country will be considerably worse off by leaving an organisation which has served us well for over 40 years, then why are they still steam-rolling ahead with their suicidal plan?

Why are they not listening to the concerns posed by such diverse bodies as the Freight Transport Association, the National Farmers Union, the CBI and a whole host of other organisations? These career politicians have little or no idea about how industry, trade and commerce function. and yet they are prepared to take sweeping decisions in relation to these areas which will adversely affect every man, woman and child in this country, solely because they think they know best.

The arrogance behind their dogged insistence that, despite all evidence to the contrary, their course of action is right, is what I find most insulting, especially as few of them have any experience of life outside Westminster. They have a duty to act in the best interests of the country, rather than those of their party or themselves, and to pursue a course based on pure dogma when it is obvious that it will be detrimental to the country, is unforgivable.

If I was in your shoes Professor, I would stay put in the Irish Republic and apply for Irish Citizenship. That way you would be able to keep the rights currently guaranteed to you, and the rest of us, under EU law; rights which Mayhem and her gang of cronies are determined to remove from UK citizens.

Paul Bailey said...

Right, I too am back on topic, and thank-you to Matthew and Ian for the excellent points you both have raised. Like you, I suspect that the recent policy changes will make little difference to the day to day running of local CAMRA branches, although I agree that some means of “activating” the 90% passive members, ought to be at the top of every branch’s priorities.

On a more personal note, and going back to Nev’s original point about recruitment at a senior level, my work colleagues and I are about to find out just how difficult it is in choosing someone to head our company. Last weekend our General Manager died suddenly, and totally unexpectedly. With no obvious successor within the firm, we will have to look elsewhere.

Our parent company, in Japan, may install a member of their team in the interim, but despite an expansion of our business, accompanied by record sales last year, we now face a period of uncertainty and potential instability. Having the right person at the helm can make an awful lot of difference.

ETU said...

Well Paul, the changes to come at the helm of the Daily Mail may well make a difference eh? ;)



Professor Pie-Tin said...

Paul - I used to have Irish citizenship but got rid of it for tax reasons.Thanks for your concern but I'm pretty confident about Blighty's future.And it seems I'm not the only one.

" The UK has received three times more funding than any other European tech hub in the two years since the Brexit vote. "

On CAMRA matters, I used to deal with Mike Benner on a professional basis and he was a great operator.Was always going to be a hard act to follow.

Paul Bailey said...

In that case Prof, welcome back to Britain. Any ideas as to which part of the country you might settle?

Mike Benner was definitely going to be a hard act to follow. I'm pretty certain that SIBA poached him from CAMRA.

Talking of poaching, we heard the other day that one of our notified body's lead auditors, in fact the lady who audited our company recently, is jumping ship and going to work for one of the medical devices companies she had been assessing. Apparently they made her an offer she couldn't refuse; a real life case of gamekeeper turning poacher.

Martin Taylor said...

Some excellent points raised here. I guess my question is, if.Ian attended a CAMRA meeting what would he actually do ? Except get roped into helping with the Beer Festival (whose days are numbered). Better to get out and about drinking in pubs locally and scoring the beer.

Paul Bailey said...

ETU, good news indeed about the departure of the odious Paul Dacre, but the bad news is he doesn't step down until November.

More than anyone, including Farage, this individual is responsible for a campaign of black propaganda against the European Union, which poisoned the minds of those gullible enough to swallow the hate-filled bile spewed out by the newspaper he has edited for the past 20 years.

When he's gone, where will middle England get its daily fix of scare stories about immigrants stealing their jobs, Brussels's plans for a European army or EU directives against bendy bananas?

Good riddance to a particularly nasty individual, who has caused enormous damage to this country,

Paul Bailey said...

Hi Martin, if the festival you are referring to is the Great British Beer Festival, then its days probably are numbered, but mini-beer festivals, organised by local pubs, seem to be going from strength to strength.

Such events, are my festivals of choice, these days, as they are far more civilised, less crowded and help support local businesses.

I agree that visiting pubs, in between times, and scoring beers, is also extremely important, as is socialising; an aspect of CAMRA which is sometimes over-looked.

Professor Pie-Tin said...

Paul - we're headed for the West Country where I have my roots.
Re:Paul Dacre. 17.4 million people voted Leave.They couldn't all be Daily Mail readers as it only has a circulation of 1.3million.It's a myth that Middle England was hood-winked by the Mail.Huge swathes of working class England and Wales drove the Leave vote.
Dacre deserves credit also for the many campaigns he led with the Mail,most noticeably risking jail for publishing the names of the men involved in the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
The paper wasn't to everyone's taste but there's no denying its success under Dacre.
However you'll be pleased to know his successor is Geordie Grieg,editor of the frantically Remain Mail on Sunday.

Paul Bailey said...

Cheers Prof, the West Country is a good place to settle down, especially if you have roots there. Some excellent pubs with good beers to match.

For the record I was aware of Dacre sticking his neck out in relation to the murder of Stephen Lawrence and it demonstrates, if proof was needed, that no-one is all bad. Even a certain, former Austrian corporal, was reputed to be fond of children and animals.

Professor Pie-Tin said...

And Godwin's Law came unto pass ...