I might not be popular in rural communities, but I’ve got their best interests at heart

Owen Paterson, Liz Truss … the rapid turnover of Environment Secretaries isn’t helping

Share

I am off to Blenheim Palace to take part in a debate called “Would the countryside be better off if we left the EU?” I am sure that readers will know what my answer to this will be. I’ll be joined by Ross Murray from the Country Land and Business Association (our hosts) and Ian Coghill, chairman of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust.

In many ways it’s a very interesting time to have the debate because the outgoing minister, Owen Paterson, was very much a countryman. He was a popular figure with the CLA and many of the shooting and fishing community who are going to be at Blenheim for this event.

The high turnover of ministers at the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs makes building relationships for key countryside organisations an ongoing process as they seek to explain causes which are often misunderstood by Westminster.

Paterson’s replacement as Environment Secretary, Liz Truss, appears to know little of rural affairs, despite representing a constituency in Norfolk. She is from Leeds, studied at Oxford, and then went to work in a think-tank. In short, she is a Cameron A-lister who doesn’t have the real knowledge of the needs of those she must work with. Questions have already been asked if she got her job based on her gender.

The community will be in shock at the sacking of poor Paterson, who essentially paid the price for the flooding in the Somerset Levels, made so much worse by EU rules which stop dredging and instead concentrate on preserving hairy click beetles and their friends.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak directly to the rural community. Nevertheless, I expect to be deeply unpopular with large landowners who get huge amounts of money from the Common Agricultural Policy and having wind turbines situated on their land – an appalling transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.

I will outline one of Ukip’s policies, specifically the alternative to the CAP which has stopped us thinking properly about how we should be managing agriculture. It’s our view that while we would maintain the single-farm payment, there would need to be a limit to stop the agri-businesses receiving enormous subsidies.

I tend to find a lot of support among the smaller genuine farmers and attendees at this annual festival of shooting, fishing and country crafts, and I think my thoughts on lifting much of the regulatory burden currently weighing down on these people will go down well.

There is some considerable evidence that the Countryside Alliance took quite a big role in the election of David Cameron as leader of the Conservatives back in 2005, mainly based on his pledge for a free vote to overturn the hunting ban. But I think this is yet another promise that he never intended to keep.

I’ve been going to the fair since I was about 10 and love country crafts and rural communities. I am a keen angler and an occasional shot, although usually the safest birds are the ones above my peg. Last time I went, one of my sons caught a small bream which, as he wound it in, was engulfed by a large pike. I am pretty sure nothing like that will happen this year. Instead I expect to spend quite a lot of money on buying new fishing equipment and outdoor clothes as well as having a go at clay-shooting. After that I think it will be time for a well-earned drink and I will head for the beer tent.

 

Me, Jean-Claude, and a quick kiss ...

People looking at the newspapers yesterday might wonder why the leader of the main Eurosceptic group in the European Parliament and the man who is essentially the head of the EU looked quite so friendly in each other’s company.

The new President of the European Commission is a man I disagree with fundamentally: he wants ever closer union and I want out. But as I said in the  European Parliament this week, he is a sociable cove with a good sense of humour, unlike most of his Europhile colleagues.

Before his speech Mr Juncker went round the front row of the Parliament where, rather like the front bench of Westminster, those with “positions” are seated. I am once again seat 20, right at the front and his appointed position is 21, so he greeted me by saying, “Ah,my neighbour!” He then proceeded to shake hands and say hello to the other group leaders and committee chairmen which, being Strasbourg, involved a lot of continental male kissing.

I was the last person he shook hands with and when he came back to me he said, “I haven’t kissed you yet!” I think my reply was rather what was expected when I shot back, “You better not!”, and we both had a good laugh.

READ MORE:
Why we should allow assisted dying
Marvel comics have maed Thor a woman, thank Odin
As a child growing up in Israel, I saw how Palestinians became dehumanised

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labour's pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings  

Election 2015: Smash the two-party system! Smash the voting system!

Armando Iannucci
Tactical voting is a necessary evil of the current first-past-the-post system, where voters vote against what they do not want rather than in favour of what they do  

Election 2015: Voting tactically has become more fraught in new political order

Michael Ashcroft
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power