(Video features Jeremy Hunt, Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport).

The crisis facing the British pub is indeed serious.  Six pubs are closing on average every day of the week.  Conservatives are right to draw attention to the problem and you can sign up to the ‘Save The Great British Pub’ petition.  I just have.

It’s a sensible campaign for the party to run and a good way of gathering email addresses.  On there are also other micro campaigns, including to support small shops, save post offices, oppose ID cards and for honest food labelling.  See them all here.

I can’t say that I’m optimistic that the Tories’ campaign will have much effect, however.  A small cut in duty on beer – offset by higher taxation of alcopops – (among other measures) is unlikely to compensate for the effect of cheap booze sold by supermarkets.  As recession bites drinking at home is going to be the only affordable option for many.  There is also, of course, the effect of the smoking ban.  The Conservatives don’t want to touch that issue.

I’d also be interested in Iain Duncan Smith’s reaction.  His CSJ supports higher duties on alcohol – a stance resoundingly rejected by Tory members.

Tim Montgomerie

11am: This video of Grant Shapps MP investigating the problems facing pubs is worth a view: