Policies being challenged by Countryfile

I refer to our MP’s (Anthony Mangnall’s) article in last week’s paper about the UK’s farming and food security. He states ‘…that we need to do better in looking after our land, waterways and bio-diversity’. I had to smile at that comment….who has been in government for the last thirteen years?

As an aside he, again, doesn’t mention allotments as a part of this picture. Why should he? Allotments do not provide any significant money-making opportunity for a government. (Oh dear…I’m become more cynical as I get older…and maybe understand more!) Of course allotments have just so many personal and social benefits…apart from helping with food security and zero carbon miles.

My main point is about Mr. Mangnall’s comments regarding how farming is portrayed to the public: ‘…to profile the daily struggles faced by farms across the country’. He goes on to say that: ‘In two short series [of Clarkson’s Farm] Jeremy Clarkson has done more than Countryfile in thirty years to profile the daily struggles faced by farms across the country’. 

I wholeheartedly disagree! Countryfile (BBC) and it’s sister programme Farming Today (Radio 4) are not afraid to flag up how government policies of lowering standards, deregulation and reduction of oversight funding are affecting farming and our environment. And that’s before getting into the damage of Brexit and farmer-unfriendly almost-useless Trade Deals and lack of labour availability. (Check out the NFU on these.) Those programmes also report on innovative developments and all the seasonal goings-on in agriculture and horticulture. A much-heard comment on Countryfile and Farming Today when drilling down into the many DEFRA and government incompetences is: ‘We asked DEFRA for a response but no one was available.’ Surprise, surprise! 

I ask myself…why doesn’t our MP support a reputable source that is independent and has the integrity to, where appropriate, criticise the government that he represents? Yet he sees fit to praise an overtly Tory-supporting hobby farmer celebrity …worth around £50 million …who has the luxury, money and ability to play at farming with little care for his enterprise’s actual viability…and, maybe, some tax advantages?

With another focus I also reflect on what farming might look like if we had had a fair voting system….say, after the Blake report of 1976? If you want to understand more about this possibility come along to the Climate Hub at the Mansion between 11am and 3pm on Wednesday April 26 where I and others will be available to discuss, engage and answer questions about reform of our voting system.

Laurie Taylor


The Tories have broken Britain

Mr Mangnall writes a very persuasive piece in the Gazette (April 13) on the need to cut Whitehall red tape to benefit biodiversity and food security and has clearly read the right books.  However, is this just another Tory con ahead of local elections. Local elections whereby some will be disenfranchised because of the need for voter ID brought in by the Tories who only had 37% of the popular vote at the last general election thanks to a skewed First Past The Post electoral system, only used in Belarus (Putin’s ally) elsewhere in Europe, which denies democratic representation to the majority.

Mr Mangnall fails to mention the devastating impact on biodiversity in the U.K., the most biodiverse depleted country on the planet, resulting from the privatised water companies (Thatcher 1989) flushing raw sewage into the country’s waterways, lakes and seas, an illegal practice other than when storm overflows are likely to cause waste water to back up into homes.  All in the name of profit to reward shareholders, mostly foreign, and CEOs.  The latter receiving bonuses totalling £14.5m, a reward for failing the environment and potentially our health and thus burdening the under-invested NHS. After all water is essential to life and we are paying higher bills because of the lack of investment in the first place, in order to keep their investors in the money to the tune of £57bn.  We are paying the shareholders and CEOs to get rich. Twenty percent of our bills already goes to servicing the debt they have racked up and slushed between each other.  And, while there are now plans for unlimited fines, the Environment Agency doesn’t have the resources to police them because of austerity. As always with the Tories, too little to late and not enough investment, so symptomatic of the Tory business model of opportunity (AKA greed) which causes ill-health and destroys biodiversity. 

Then there are the plans for a coal mine in Cumbria and more licences for oil exploration. Coking coal for the steel industry they say, but 80% is to be exported and the steel industry is changing to use clean energy anyway.  Just another Tory con to keep the fossil fuel companies on side rather than tackle the existential threat of climate change.

Then there is the fact that the financial system is rigged in favour of the wealthy. Mr Sunak only paying 22% tax because most of his “earnings” are from wealth which is subject to capital gains tax at 15%, not earned income.  That is blatantly unfair and making the tax system system fairer could raise £25bn for the benefit of all in society.  Not only that, the Tories favour less regulation of the banking system and removing the cap on the bonuses for bankers.  Precisely the scenario that caused the financial crash in 2008 and initiated in the 1990s (I was there).  All in the name of making the rich even richer at the expense of the less well off with Tory governments presiding over a form of enslavement and greater inequity exemplified by the gig economy and sack/rehire for less culture (P & O Ferries).

Then we read that Osborne and Cameron (just two of the Oxford elite chums educated to rule the U.K., three others being Johnson, Truss and Rees-Mogg) were against more affordable housing because it was likely the occupants wouldn’t vote Tory.  Not to mention the austerity they inflicted on the majority instead of investing in the workforce, particularly the public services. Beware the sleight-of-hand consistently proffered by the Tories entrapped by the far bigoted right wing; the biggest scam and threat the people of this country face.  Then there was Brexit, the result of Cameron’s lacklustre approach to the referendum and Johnson’s lies to become Prime Minister, now incurring a likely 4% deficit to GDP.  Just when will Brexit be done, if ever?  We were conned.

And, there is so much more. Britain’s politics are broken as are the public services - the NHS, Social Services, Social Care (another topic on which Cameron pulled the plug following cross-party agreement), Justice, Policing and social cohesion, Education, Housing, The Tax and Asylum systems, etc. are all on the point of collapse.

If Mr Mangnall truly believed in saving the planet from the devastation of global warming and a changed climate, now exponentially heading for tipping points that are going to result in drought, famines, war and disease for future generations to contend with, and mending Broken isolated Britain, he would support the Liberal Democrats to restore the traditional governance of the south west.  It only needs one more Liberal Democrat seat on SHDC to overturn the Tory majority.

Use your democratic right to vote and vote wisely on May 4 and carry your photo ID so that you are not disenfranchised by the Tories who are incrementally eroding democracy and masquerade greed as opportunity.  The Tories have broken Britain.

D Elphick