It’s been a busy year!

7 December 2022 , categories: News

With the end of the year and Christmas fast approaching (again!), it's a good time to review where we are up to and make plans for next year.

In this post we cover progress so far, plans for next year and an appeal to join us, including starting up your own group in your area!

Progress so far

2022 was the formative year for the group which evolved from “Leavers of Manchester”, itself a regional group feeding into Leavers of Britain, which was started by Lucy Harris. Following the referendum and the “Get Brexit Done” election in 2019, it’s fair to say that Brexit is far from “done” and UK politics has entered a turbulent period, many would say farcical.

The Leavers of Manchester group continued to meet, initially via zoom during the lockdowns and then resumed meeting in person in local pubs that could offer a free room and a welcome for open, free debate. We tried a number of venues but gradually homed in on the Welcome Inn in Prestwich, which is centrally located for most people in the group and has good access via public transport. We also have a satellite pub in Leigh, the Nevison, which we tend to use for more social events involving dining.

We have tried to document as many of our meetings as possible and you can find all the write-ups easily accessible on our website. You can get a flavour of our meetings from Our Vision for the UK and Politics is Broken – Discuss.

On the 13th September we launched the new website having pondered deeply for many weeks over our remit and branding. When it came, the new name “Politics in Pubs”, came in a flash and in hindsight was an obvious choice for people that talk about politics in pubs! We have always wanted to support pubs – traditional convivial meeting places enabling the free exchange of ideas and opinions which, like other small businesses, have had a tough few years. Our new name reflects this and we hope will help to support these vital institutions in the British way of life.

On the 10th August we hosted our first guest speakers, local volunteers for Reform UK. We hope to invite other parties to speak as we are adamant that the group is open to all views. No-one gets an easy ride though. Later in the year we hosted Rob “the American” who spoke about his experiences and linked us up with his Cancelling Cancel Culture Meetup group. At the same meeting we also had a presentation by Danny from the #TOGETHER Declaration¬†who described the organisation’s various campaign initiatives, including aiming to get care workers reinstated after they were sacked for refusing to take COVID-19 vaccinations.

On Saturday the 5th November we officially launched the group to a wider audience, after being invited to host a stand at the Battle of Ideas Festival in Buxton. This was an incredible free speech event and we met lots of people who have encountered the same sort of issues we do, such as resistance to talking about certain topics in a common sense way without fear of being being labelled as fascist, racist, transphobic or otherwise being purveyors of hate speech. It was so refreshing to find out that we are far from alone and several people spoke to us about starting their own regional group or aligning an existing group with us. Our own Joan was invited at the last minute to take part in one of the panel discussions and did an amazing job standing in for Graham Stringer MP.

Finally, we also appeared in the media with a podcast conversation with Nick Buckley MBE. Nick is an amazing campaigner for the homeless and a tireless advocate for free speech. He gave us every opportunity to explain our history, objectives and progress to date. He also volunteered to attend one of our meetings in the spring. In response to the challenge “If everyone is welcome – does that include people who voted remain?” our Joan was very clear that everyone is welcome. We don’t always agree but no-one is cancelled at our meetings.

So where next?

In the next 12 months we will continue to meet in North Manchester but we also plan to expand our network, either by forging ties with similar groups and organisations, and by getting more regional Politics in Pubs groups of the ground. If you have a group with similar aims and objectives please get in touch so that we can collaborate, share ideas and hopefully contribute to improving the state of politics in the UK.

Why not start your own group?

If you are thinking it would be great to have similar meetings to ours in your own area but you don’t know how or where to start, let us know by replying to this message using our email address info@politicsinpubs.org.uk. Let us know your circumstances and how you could contribute. If you let us have your location and permission to tell others in your area, we can put you in touch with like-minded people and ease the burden of getting a new group off the ground! You don’t have to have a lot of people involved initially, two or three can be a good number to get started and we can help with further publicity via our website and social media. We have written a short post explaining how to get a new group started and hopefully this will give you the confidence have a go.

With the massive issues facing the UK at present – there has never been a better time to appreciate that politics is not just for politicians. With an election just around the corner in two years, we hope to focus more on specific campaigning activities to make vital improvements to the way the UK is governed. You have nothing to lose and at worse you’ll meet new people, many of which will become new friends whom you will be able to talk to freely and openly.

Let’s raise a glass to that!