Gove and the Great Ministerial Tradition

5 thoughts on “Gove and the Great Ministerial Tradition

  1. I agree with all you’ve said but feel it is pointless to say it to Michael Gove instead send him all the positives and examples of profitable small scale farming businesses – sequesting carbon, selling nutritious healthy food with minimum inputs etc; maybe someone will take note that there is a group of farmers out there doing something different and it works and works extremely well; maybe then you will get invited to lunch and the opportunity to talk.

  2. Well Liz, let’s hope it would be a good lunch, because otherwise Colin’s day will be completely wasted. Oh yes, some politicians do ‘listen’ – but it’s only with one ear. The other one has already been bagged by the agrichem/big pharma lobby group. Need we ask which ear will prevail?

    I have dealt with them for the past 35 years and have never even come close to finding a genuine ‘human being’ in the higher echelons of office who has survived more than a year or two before being ‘moved on’ because he was getting too close to backing the ‘wrong horse’.

    Party politics is a ruthless game. It is not our game. Colin is absolutely right in saying that only a ‘people’s take over of the food chain’ will alter this otherwise intractable dedication to power and profit that leads agriculture into the abys.

  3. Stuart Meikle says:
    Dear Colin,

    You seem to be sharing the frustration of many of us with the general inability to find politicians who can separate the interests of a few groups and friends from their Ministerial roles. I am not sure how much that is the case in the UK so it may just be that Mrs May’s recent Defra appointment has been made because she likes dumping disliked colleagues into the black hole that she sees Defra as. Certainly, elsewhere, my concern has been that political appointments have been mostly about ensuring that food production can be fully exploited as a profit-making opportunity for the few. It is something that I have seen increasingly since the 2008 crash and, first, the collapse of the property market and, second, sovereign bonds going pear-shaped. Food and farmland then became the must have investment for those with a ‘portfolio’.

    What I have been impressed with when it comes to returning to the UK farming and food scene after years away is just how many interested parties there are who want to see positive change. True they will be aligned against the industrial, ‘sustainable intensification’ lobby but they might yet develop to a point where they can drive change. Of course a change of government could help change the agenda, not least because it may bring a more issues-engaged fraternity to the fore.

    For now, however, we must give Michael Gove the chance to show himself as a politician who is willing to be open-minded and who can provide the food and farming industry with enlightened leadership. I am sure we would all be willing to help him on his way to do such. Personally, I just hope he does not fall back on the recent default position of ‘grow more, sell more, export more’ and to deregulate everything to facilitate such an approach. It is one that those of us with real farming knowledge have recognized for what it is, totally unsustainable in every respect.

    On another note, I am working on an extensive food, farming and rural policy document for the UK. I am writing it with the intention of trying to get a consensus across many organizations for a really comprehensive post-Brexit policy. For the future of farming, rural communities, any number of environmental issues, and the nutrition of the population, it is not something that can be done using today’s favoured medium of the sound bite. In contrast, my policy extends to 12 chapters and, so far, 333 policy recommendations. I hope now others will be able to add to it and to ensure that it is not missing any important components.

    My best wishes


  4. Colin, that was quite a rant, but I do think that you have not given Gove a fair chance. The real problem is not the man (and as we know they change frequently) but the system. We need a paradigm shift, but that requires us to give up so much that we hold dear (such as cheap food and fast cars) and there are far too many very wealthy (and therefore influential) vested interests. A good start would be to internalize the true and full costs of food production, such as pollution, carbon, energy and biodiversity. On that basis we could “compete” and be seen to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. And most of all we have to stop talking to ourselves and start talking to the great British public.

    Hugh Warmington

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