Preaching by Trust really raises my hackles
Few things get his goat more than having his agenda set for him, as Bridgwater and West Somerset Conservative MP Ian Liddell-Grainger writes to Farming Minister George Eustice
DEAR George, D’you know, nothing gets up the nostrils more irritatingly than being advised how one should do one’s job – particularly when that advice comes from some organisation considerably less in possession than oneself of the relevant knowledge, expertise and experience.
Which is why, as you may imagine, I shall be ignoring the suggestion by the Somerset Wildlife Trust that I should organise, attend and star at some form of public meeting to discuss the forthcoming Environment Bill. If my constituents wish to put forward their views on the Bill then they have at their disposal all the usual channels of communication with me – channels which, I might add, are frequently very heavily trafficked as testimony to their usefulness.
I have also been informed that the trust’s next big campaign will be called ‘Wilder Future. Wilder Somerset’ which sounds suspiciously as though it’s based on Brother Monbiot’s loony doctrine which would have us return farmland to nature and go back to having packs of wolves and herds of aurochs roaming the countryside.
As far as I am concerned, George – and thanks in no small part to the success of the campaign to halt moorland reclamation on Exmoor – we have enough wild bits in Somerset. And as to them being under some sort of threat, as the trust supposes, they are in fact protected by several lines of bureaucratic barbed wire entanglements which, last time I checked, are working pretty well.
What really, really starts the hackles rising, George, is to be preached at (as I recently was) about the state of play in my constituency by members of the trust who don’t even live there but whose sole aim appeared to be to protect badgers from any further and entirely rational operations to reduce their numbers and so the incidence of TB in cattle.
The wildlife trust needs to acknowledge that apart from one or two patches of land which it looks after the bulk of the wilder parts of the countryside are managed very effectively by farmers – the same farmers the environmentalists repeatedly demonise; the same farmers who get all too little credit for the environmental work (often over and above whatever they are paid for) they carry out; the same farmers whose cattle the environmentalists are presumably happy to see prematurely carted off to the slaughterhouse because they’ve been infected with TB by badgers.
I suppose if you display a badger on your logo then you have to display some sort of allegiance to the breed but the fact is that blind support for an animal whose numbers have long since passed any sustainable level has ultimately cost this country billions of pounds.
So when I am actually asked to stage such a public meeting I shall have to decline on the grounds that my diary is already full with more weighty issues. There’s that cracked pane in the greenhouse that I have been meaning to replace for months and I know Mrs L-G wants me to go and look at a carpet for the spare room.
Not that this appears to be the only demand that is being made of me for I read on and see the trust wants the Bill to include ‘legal targets for nature’s recovery that politicians must ultimately achieve’.
How, I wonder, is that going to pan out? Am I to be held directly responsible for ensuring that farmland bird populations are restored, for example? Last time I checked, farmers here were doing what they could to be welcoming to migrating species, though the problems inmany instances are linked to what happens in the other countries where some species spend their time, ranging from drought and other factors affecting feeding and therefore breeding rates to them being shot out of the sky by gun-toting Maltese on their way here.
Am I to be personally blamed if numbers fail to recover – perhaps paraded through the streets of my constituency wearing sackcloth and ashes and with the Stuffed Lapwing of Shame hanging, albatross-like, around my neck? Don’t rule it out… Yours ever Ian
Ian Liddell-Grainger says ‘blind support’ for the badger has costthe UK billions of pounds