Want to get more involved in political discussion over a drink in a pub but there is no Politics in Pubs group in your area? Read on to find out all you need to know about how to setup and run your own group.
Politics in Pubs (PiPs) is a voluntary run organisation with no officials (other than a core team affectionately described as t’committee) or legal status. As such it aims to provide an environment supporting free speech and political discussion, allowing all opinions to be aired which meet the UK legal requirements for public speech. For example, Politics in Pubs does not support any speech or actions intended to discriminate or incite violence against any group of people, however such groups are constituted.
T’committee membership is always up for review so if you would like to get more actively involved, please let us know. When we refer to “we” or “us” below this indicates the t’committee.
Politics in Pubs is growing with more groups being set up around the country. If you would like to set up a new group, please get in touch via email@example.com and tell us about yourselves and how you fit in with our aims and objectives. Please provide us with the following information:
- Agreement that your group meets our aims and objectives as described on our About page: https://politicsinpubs.org.uk/about/
- Short description of your group including when and where you meet, and any other general info about your group, for example the main topics you are interested in discussing and other groups you work with locally and nationally.
- Your website address. Ideally, you would use ours at https://politicsinpubs.org.uk though we have no objection to groups maintaining their own sites, as long as the affiliation to our group is made clear and you take full responsibility for any content created on your site, indemnifying us from any action that might arise. There is no charge for using our website.
- Your email. Ideally, we will provide you with a dedicated email account that we have access to (see later) so that we can enhance brand awareness. There is no charge for using our email.
- Your telephone number (optional).
- Your location as text (as specific as you like) and GPS latitude and longitude coordinates. These can be found using Google maps and ideally would point to the location of your main venue. If you don’t have a regular venue, simply provide the coordinates to the city centre (for example).
- One line summary describing your group.
Such information can be updated or removed later as required.
Starting a new group
Find a venue
One of the first things you’ll need to do is find a venue, which must of course be a pub! Unless you already have one in mind, you’ll need to visit a few of your local pubs and find one that has a private room available for community groups. Mid-week and away from city centres this may free – you’ll hopefully bring custom to the pub. If you don’t have a free room locally you can have a whip round during the session to pay for the room. Emphasise that your group is independent of any political party – you just want to talk about what’s happening in the world over a drink.
How you plan and organise your group is up to you, but we have found that this is a good format:
- Pick a date and a 2-hour slot. In terms of frequency, we tend to have monthly meetings, usually the 4th Wednesday of the month in the same venue. Do not forget to book the venue well in advance!
- For each meeting choose a topic of interest. The discussion may meander but it’s good to have a topic to focus on at the start. This can be very current and specific or general such as “Political events of the past week – and what do you think of them? Ideally, particularly if you have a guest speaker, you may have a summary of the topic including questions and sources of information, which members can read before the meeting.
- Ideally, have at least one other person helping you, but this can evolve over time.
- Allow yourself at least 2 weeks to get the word out (we can help with this – see later). This can include advertising on the web (see later for use of our website), social media, word of mouth (particularly via affiliated groups), emailing contacts, local press, any way you can!
A few tips about hosting a meeting:
- Get there early!
- You want people to enjoy themselves and come back, so try to welcome everyone as they arrive and check everyone has someone to talk to. Introduce people to each other, even if they are strangers to you. If this doesn’t come naturally, just play the role.
- It can be helpful to have written copies of the topic and a few key points or questions on tables in the room.
- Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get too many people attending your first meeting. The numbers will build over time. And lower numbers mean everyone gets a chance to have their say more than once.
- Once it feels as though everyone has arrived but close to the advertised start time, begin the session by welcoming everyone and briefly introducing yourself.
- A lead speaker should introduce the topic for discussion. The length of this introduction can vary but time must be allowed for questions and opinions to be raised by all attendees. The speaker can decide whether to take questions during or at the end of their talk.
- Emphasise that an echo chamber is boring so different views are very welcome (see later).
- Someone will need to chair the discussion – but in a relaxed way that encourages people to join in and gently reins in the more dominant personalities.
- Towards the end of the allotted time:
- The chair should make a brave attempt at summarising key points and/or the speaker can sum up with final thoughts based on feedback received.
- If you don’t have fixed dates for meetings, suggest a date for the next meet-up and check availability.
- Ask if anyone has a topic that they’d like to discuss the next time.
- Encourage people to sign up to our email list which can be done via our website (ideally) or by letting us know their contact details.
- If you are collecting donations, e.g., to cover the costs of the meeting room, you could send round a collection tin – but do emphasise that this is entirely voluntary. You will need to keep an account of how much is raised and what you spend it on. A simple spreadsheet would be fine, and this should be made available to any member who wants to query how the collection is being used.
- Encourage people to stay if they want and carry on the discussion informally. The pub will like that! For some people that can be the most enjoyable bit of the event. And you want people to enjoy themselves.
Conduct of meetings
It is vital that meetings are conducted according to the principles of free speech and the need to let all opinions be heard without fear of being repressed or ridiculed with robust but polite debate encouraged. As such it is important that:
- A chairperson should be appointed for each meeting. This does not need to be the same person each time.
- Ideally a separate person should be identified to take notes, again not necessarily the same person each time. You must not record meetings, either audio or video, as this can be a real barrier that could discourage many people from attending.
- The lead speaker should introduce the topic, but it is vital that all attendees can make a contribution and express their opinions. Therefore, introductions should last about 15-45 minutes, allowing most of the time for discussion.
- When a member wants to ask a question or give their opinion, then they must raise their hand and the chairperson will indicate when they can speak. Usually this should be in the order of request to speak.
- Whilst a member is asking a question or making their own point, other members should not interrupt or speak over them, and certainly not shut them down. If another member repeatedly behaves in a such a way, the chairperson has the right to ask them to leave the meeting and, in extreme circumstances, ban them from future meetings.
- During the meeting it can be sensible to have a formal break for 15 minutes.
- Towards the end of the meeting, the chairperson should check to make sure that all members have had an opportunity to raise their points of view, particularly those who disagree with views raised in the meeting.
- Encourage attendees who have not signed up on the website to receive notifications, to provide their contact details. Provide contact slips for this purpose so that privacy is respected. Members should be able to complete these independently and hand back to you directly, i.e., NOT left on display for others to see. Also encourage them to visit the website (where they can sign up themselves).
- Generally, any notes taken and subsequently published on the website will not give the names of individual members. The speaker may also choose not to be named but some may be keen to publicise their involvement.
- After the meeting it is a good idea (but certainly not mandatory) to produce a brief (one-page) write-up of the covering the main points and questions raised (particularly any contentious issues that came up), and links to further reading. Generally, notes should NOT be attributed to attendees, except for guest speakers whose permission should be sought first. The objective is not to produce a detailed account of the meeting but to provide a flavour of the sort of things discussed and where to find more information. Ideally, when published, these notes should help to attract more members to grow your group.
- If you want to publish the write-up on our website, please send it to us for review, possible modification, and publication.
Use of our website
Our website at https://politicsinpubs.org.uk provides a central source of information regarding upcoming events, notes of meetings, information on regional groups and articles by group members. In all cases it is quite likely that views will be expressed which do not have a common agreement within the organisation and may be intended to provoke thought and discussion at upcoming meetings. That is ok and indeed it is a requirement of free speech that such views can be expressed.
The website is maintained by the t’committee but regional groups are encouraged to contribute information on their group, notification of upcoming meetings and write-ups.
If you help to run a regional PiPs group, please send contributions to our main email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to send us a Word document but you can also send us HTML, Markdown, or even plain text. If you don’t include the images in the document, please provide them separately.
We reserve the right to modify, reject and/or delete any material provided without notice.
Our main email address is email@example.com but we also support dedicated emails for regional groups, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Since our organisation is voluntary and we may not always know personally other group leaders, such emails are provided on the basis that we can access these emails centrally. For example, passwords will be managed by t’committee and, if we perceive any problems with the use of our email system, we reserve the right to withdraw the service without notice or consequences to ourselves.
We encourage regional groups to register and use social media accounts that our linked to the main group. Currently we mainly use Twitter and our handle is @PiPsOrgUK. We strongly advise that if you want to have a closer collaboration then use your dedicated PiPs email address to manage such accounts. We recommend the following naming convention (taking into account the 15-character limit):
Where Location might be Manchester, for example, so @PiPsManchester
We can provide images to use as social media avatars, just let us know the name of your group and we can supply in whatever format you need. Our main logo is:
We can provide this in PNG or SVG formats, the latter being scalable and therefore more flexible. We can also provide custom versions for your group, such as:
We have found it helpful to maintain a WhatsApp group for group members. There is no requirement to use WhatsApp as there are several other free alternatives available, some of which have a better reputation from a privacy perspective.
Writing for our website
There are several types of articles you might create, such as:
- Notifications of meetings
- Write-ups of meetings
- General articles
All categories have a preferred format and are discussed in the following sections.
When you provide content, please keep your formatting simple, particularly do NOT use colours to highlight text, as we’ll remove them to fit in with our website colour scheme.
Notifications of meetings
Notifications should include the location, date and time of the meeting. Assuming you have provided a group summary (including geo-coordinates) we’ll link to that on the website.
It is a good idea to provide a reasonable amount of information about the topic to be discussed and ideally, ask several questions to stimulate the group’s thinking before the meeting. This way there should be no shortage of lively discussion at the meeting itself.
You will also need to provide a short title (max 50 characters including spaces) and an excerpt (max 160 characters including spaces). These need to fit in with the text lengths on our home page so that the site stays consistent. The excerpt will appear on the bottom of each post image on the home page and at the top of each detailed post, preceding the detailed text. Therefore, there is NO need to repeat the excerpt at the start of the detailed post.
If you want to provide a custom header image, you’ll need to provide an image in either PNG or JPG format. The orientation of the image MUST be landscape to fit in with the website styling. Importantly, you MUST ensure that you have the right to use the image, either having paid for it or providing evidence of appropriate licencing. If you are using a free image from one of the many libraries on the internet, such as https://pexels.com, then you should also provide an attribution for the image which may include a link. If you don’t provide an image, we can either find one for you or the post will use the default image at the top of this article.
You can also provide other images for use in the body of the post and these need to observe the same conditions in terms of licencing.
You agree to indemnify us if any images are found to breach copyright or licence restrictions.
At the end of each article, we will add some standard content advertising that we are growing and how people can start new groups in their area.
Once the post is ready, we will send out a notification to all our subscribers (using the content of the article) and publicise via Twitter. We encourage you to use your own social media accounts to do the same.
Meeting writeups should include:
- A short title (max 50 characters including spaces).
- An excerpt (max 160 characters including spaces) explaining where and when the meeting took place and the topic discussed.
- The meeting writeup. If a guest speaker wants to advertise their participation provide a summary and links as appropriate.
Unless otherwise required we assume that the same image will be used as per the notification, but you may have new images for the detailed write-up.
At the end of each post, we will add the same “We are growing” content as for meeting notifications.
Again, once the post is complete, we will send out a notification to all subscribers and promote via Twitter.
These follow a similar format to the two post types described above.
At the end of each article, we will add a disclaimer stating:
The views expressed in this article are those of the regional group as Politics in Pubs has no standard line on any topic other than to meet UK legal requirements as they pertain to free speech.
If you believe there is a problem with the article (not just that you do not like the views expressed) please email us at email@example.com, including the link and a description of any problem you perceive with the article.
We will pass on your comments to the regional group and may publish their response. In the unlikely event that we and the regional group agree that any legal boundaries were crossed then the article will be withdrawn, and an apology issued.
Again, once the post is complete, we will send out a notification to all subscribers and promote via Twitter.
Currently we do not support commenting on articles as this creates a large admin overhead. We encourage members to make comments and share via social media.