Saturday, 26 March 2011


Nothing ever changes much, does it?


To the ordinary man and woman it is incomprehensible I hat at a time when all Party divisions have been submerged in the effort to save all that makes life worth living, the teetotalers should seize the occasion to pour out a stream of propaganda, designed to prop up the crumbling edifice of fanaticism, bigotry and distortion. The following is reproduced from the front page of the current issue of Alliance News: —

This country has now become a besieged fortress. No man can foresee how long the siege will last. It is therefore imperative that the conservation of the nation's food supply should be regarded as a paramount consideration. Vested interests must at last yield to public welfare.

The Minister of Agriculture, broadcasting on June 2nd, warned pig and poultry farmers that they must reduce their stocks at once. They may have to cut down to one-third by the autumn. Shortage of feeding stuffs is blamed for this policy. The sugar ration has now been reduced to one half-pound per person per week. Meanwhile, the wholesale destruction of barley and sugar continues in brewing and distilling.

The National Temperance Federation has circulated a memorandum to all Members of Parliament, asking them the following, amongst other questions:-

(1) Why do you permit the destruction of 12 or 15 lb. of each family's annual ration of sugar in the manufacture of liquor, while denying extra sugar for "jamming" a bountiful fruit crop?

(2) Why do you acquiesce in the destruction of almost the whole of the food value in the 16,000,000 cwt. of grain, sugar, molasses, glucose, etc., used annually by the liquor trade?

(3) Are you aware that the production of beer in war time has been fixed at the standard of that for 1939 — the highest for ten years?

(4) Have you appreciated that in addition to the 10,000.000 cwt. of barley used by the brewers in 1939, further supplies have been promised to them in order to compensate for the small reduction in their sugar supplies?

(5) Can you justify the calling back of men to the land from other needed services if the additional grain they produce is malted, fermented and destroyed as a food by the brewers?

All electors must back up this campaign to save the nation's food. Write personally to your own Member of Parliament, and urge your friends to do the same, Get resolutions on the subject passed by any organisations in which you have any influence. The members of such organisations should be asked to write personal letters to their Members of Parliament. Letters should be addressed to the House of Commons, London, S.W.1.

Public Opinion Must Assert Itself Without Further Delay!

The National Temperance Federation has published a two-page leaflet with the above title. The leaflet reads:—

Question: Is the best use being made of the nation's available food supplies?

Answer: No! Millions of pounds of barley and sugar are being destroyed every day in brewing and distilling.

Is barley used for human consumption? — Not to any great extent, but it is a most valuable feeding stuff for cattle, pigs and poultry. Because of the shortage during the winter months, many animals and poultry had to be slaughtered by farmers and poultry-keepers.

Is there any rationing of beer? — No! The Government has decided that the brewers shall be allowed to produce as much beer as they did before the war, in spite of the fact that the production of beer in 1939 was the highest for the last ten years.

Is there any rationing of spirits? — Not to the consumer. The many protests by the fanning community have forced the Government to reduce the production of spirits to one-third of its pre-war total, but it must be remembered that the country has at least five years' supply of whisky in stock.

Is the best use being made of the available shipping space? — No! In spite of the undesirability of importing non-essentials, valuable shipping space is still being used to bring to this country wines and spirits from abroad.

Is sugar being rationed to brewers? — Yes, but they are being treated much more generously than many other industries which use this commodity. They are being allowed 70 per cent, of their pre-war supply, and in order that their output shall not fall below the pre-war total, additional supplies of grain are to be released to replace the sugar formerly used.

What happened in the last war? — A Liquor Control Board was set up, which imposed drastic restrictions on the trade, and thereby effected a considerable reduction in the consumption of intoxicants. The hours of sale were shortened to five and a half on weekdays and four on Sundays. Spiritless week-ends were instituted, and a 'no treating' order enforced.

Has any Control Board been set up during the present war?  — No, but the Government has appointed Advisory Committees, consisting of brewers, distillers and maltsters, to ensure that the Government's intentions are carried into effect with the least inconvenience to the industries concerned. It is sheer hypocrisy to urge the people to 'save food' and to 'dig for victory' whilst vast quantities of valuable food supplies continue to be destroyed in brewing and distilling."


Minister's Strong Rebuke.

A sensational rebuke was administered to the National Temperance Federation in the House of Commons on the 9th inst., by the Minister of Agriculture, the Rt. Hon. R. S. Hudson, in reply to a question on the paper. He referred to unauthorised use of his name, and denounced the propaganda methods of the Federation as "most discreditable"  

The question was put by Mr. Rostron Duckworth (Con., Moss Side, Manchester), who asked the Minister "If he has considered a leaflet, a copy of which has been sent to him, purporting to ask eight questions on behalf of farmers, housewives, Service men. and others, and misquoting points from a broadcast of his on June 2nd, 1940; and whether he will take steps to make it clear that it is without official authority or permission that his name is being used in this propaganda."

Mr. Tom Williams, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, who replied in the Minister's absence, said: "My right hon. Friend (Mr. Hudson) ha* considered this leaflet, in which the opinions of the National-Temperance Federation are made to appear as points from his broadcast. lie hopes that this reply will make it clear that unauthorised use of his name is being made in this propaganda, and that the House will agree that propaganda methods of this sort are most discreditable  to the organisation concerned."

"Unscrupulous Manner."

The unscrupulous manner in which the teetotal organisation sought to make use of the national emergency to advance its cause is described in the following comment in the new issue of a Monthly Bulletin, the organ of the Fellowship of Freedom and Reform :—

We have heard a great deal from organised teetotalers about the 'destruction' of materials in the brewing of beer. A fine example of special pleading has just reached us—a leaflet sent to M.P.s by the Food Committee of the N.T.F. Perhaps few M.P.s will know that those letters stand for National Temperance Federation; a hurried reader might confuse them with the N.F.U. or National Farmers' Union.

"The leaflet reproduces four points from the broadcast of the Minister of Agriculture on June 2nd and with insufficient 'demarcation' adds three of its own. On the other side, questions are asked from 'farmers, housewives. Service men, and others.'"

It is not the business of this magazine to "push" the sales of beer. But the temperance party cannot have it both ways. Much is made of the Minister's recall of men to the land, and M.P.s are asked: "Can you justify the calling back of men to the land from other needed services if the additional grain they produce is malted, fermented and destroyed as a food by the brewers?" In other words, 70,000 men are being recalled to grow barley of malting quality. Wheat, oats, sugar beet, fruit, potatoes, green vegetables, and root crops, hay, silage, the production of milk and so on are as nothing!

On page 222 of his monumental "Alcohol and the Nation," Mr. G. B. Wilson, the leading teetotal statistician, writes: "On the whole the value of the liquor trade to the farmer as a potential customer is not great. An outside estimate would be £9,000.000 a year on a total agricultural value of £250,000,000 (Ministry of Agriculture, July 18th, 1938) — or 3.6 per cent."

"We are thus asked to believe that in peace time barley is hardly worth growing, but that in war time it is the main crop. There is something rancid about such purposeful confusions."
"The Brewers' Journal 1940" pages 560 - 561. (Published July 17th, 1940.)

I'll only make one comment: Rostron Duckworth, great name. Especially for the M.P. for Moss Side.


Matt said...

People from outside Manchester may be surprised that Moss Side had a Tory MP in the 1940's given it's a poor inner city district and part of one of the safest Labour seats in the country.

In the nineteenth century however it was a semi-rural area on the edge of the city. Manchester merchants built large houses here, away from the slums surrounding their factories in Ancoats and Chorlton-upon-Medlock, which have now been divided up into flats.

I guess in the 1940's there was enough of the merchant class left combined with working-class Tories to return a Conservative MP.

Gary Gillman said...

This is an interesting sidelight on the teetotal or at least alcohol-shy lobbies which periodically reassert in English and other societies. I have come across many writings of this nature in reviewing 19th and 20th sources on beer, brewing and distilling, and alcohol control.

I am not trying to be contrary in saying that a certain point, you get influenced by such perspectives. Alcohol was a big social problem in the 19th century, and continued to be into the 20th both in the UK and the Continent. Widespread prohibition movements in all these areas and of course North America did not arise for nothing or simply as a function of certain denominational perspectives.

Public authorities in the U.K. have properly expressed concerns about over-drinking even in recent years and in particular on youth abuse of alcohol.

Alcohol is not necessary to society, it is a luxury, and this explains why in wartime especially, controls were proposed so as to ensure a more effective allocation of resources than would prevail in peacetime. And again even in peacetime, reasonable controls were and are needed to limit the distribution of alcohol in society and its influence. The issue never goes away, nor should it.


Gary Gillman said...

Might I add please that with respect to this particular issue of the early 1940's, I am not taking sides necessarily with the anti-alcohol lobby. The rejoinder of the authorities and brewers' journal seems reasonable - on that particular issue.

I am simply saying that the perspective represented by those who would restrict or control liquor in society should be taken seriously in all eras and debated reasonably. This is necessary both to societal health and the right of an adult to enjoy a drink when he wants one.

All societies (or almost all today) control alcohol sales in various ways e.g., retail hours, advertising, minimum pricing, age consumption thresholds. The debate is ongoing as to the level of controls at any one time in any one society and so it should be IMO.


Thomas Barnes said...

@Gary. It seems to me that tee-total movements never flourish unless they can hook themselves to some larger social cause. For example, Prohibition only came about in the U.S. because anti-alcohol forces were able to form a temporary coalition with feminists, fundamentalist Christians and anti-immigrant/anti-Catholic bigots. Once those forces split, Prohibition was doomed.

Does this jibe with your research, or can teetotal movements gain political traction on their own?

Ron Pattinson said...

Thomas Barnes, in the UK the teetotal movement was very closely linked to religious groups. As the 20th century progressed these became much less influential.

Nowadays it's just mad scientists, opportunist politicians and lazy newspaper editors who propagate alcohol scare stories.

Talking of religious temperance figures, I've got some good Lloyd George quotes queued up.