Brewers & Preachers

The pro-and anti-Sunday drinking referendum that has recently taken place in Wales has been fought, on the one hand, under the guise of democracy and the freedom of the individual and. on the other, as a struggle to maintain a tradition in the face of a decline in standards and morals. One was an attempt by the brewers and those who, consciously or otherwise, supported them to change existing social habits, and the other an attempt by religious organisations (mainly Nonconformist) to maintain a way of life that has been peculiar to Wales for generations.

The sponsors of Sunday opening were without doubt headed by the brewery interests and other allied organisations. One found strange members in their camp — even religious people who claim to be supporters not only because of the ‘freedom’ involved but because they could not find any scriptural command in the list of “Thou Shalt Nots” which was anti-drink. The Rev. Cannon R. Williams of Haverford West (the Brewers’ Chaplain) was a case in point. The public hoarding adverts and nation-wide door-to-door distribution of pamphlets must have cost the brewers a fortune — a fortune they hope to recoup in the years ahead.

Another reverend spokesman stated in the Western Mail that “the nation that loses its Sunday loses its soul”. But it is only fair to say that other, non-religious organisation have added their weight against the Sunday extension, for instance. National Life-Line (a movement similar to the Good Samaritans though primarily confined to industry) stated:

  Alcoholism is costing industry £75 millions annually . . . 250,000 men failed to turn up for work because of that ‘Monday morning feeling’.

Well, what is to the advantage of the brewing industy can be to the disadvantage of other industrialists—that’s capitalism.

It is indeed a comment on democracy in Britain that it grants ten minutes broadcasting time to the “Communist” Party, five minutes to the Welsh Nationalists and none whatsoever to the Socialist Party of Great Britain in Wales, but can spend a huge sum of money to build up a national campaign, including television and sound broadcasts, on the benefits of a Sunday pint of beer.

W. Brain