Save your local pub and help defeat populism

Even before it was illegal to be poured a pint, our pubs were closing. One in five shut this millennium, with fewer than 50,000 pubs left pre-pandemic.

This isn’t a huge surprise for a nation that’s drinking less over time – at least it was before home schooling kicked in.

Now, new research finds that pub closures pre-crisis didn’t just reflect our drinking habits, they swayed political opinions too. Looking at closures of pubs from 2013 to 2016, the author finds that people in areas that saw an additional community pub close were more than four percentage points more likely to support Ukip.

This fits the argument that support for rightwing populists is fuelled by a sense of local decline and greater isolation.

The author isn’t, however, making a binary distinction between economic/social drivers of populism. In fact, she finds that the impact of pub closures on voting is particularly large in economically deprived areas of the country.

Maybe this also helps us understand the collapse of Ukip as well as its rise. Brexit happening was obviously quite bad for the single-issue party. But the final nail in the coffin? The number of pubs increased by 320 in the year to March 2019. So if you want to beat the populist right, it’s time to save your local pub.

It’s not a total coincidence the chancellor used the recent budget to announce £150m to help communities takeover their local boozers. Pubs, it turns out, are political.

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