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Why do those who have never worked in the countryside think they know best

I read The Guardian newspaper on a pretty regular basis. It helps me to keep up to speed with the enemy. Flicking through it the other day, I was reminded how people who choose not to live or work in the countryside nonetheless seem to think that they are the true custodians of our green and pleasant land.

Why is this? If they are really so concerned about the rural landscape, why don’t they even live there? Of course, a lot of shooting people live in towns and they regard their forays into the countryside as the spice of life. I have no beef with that, nor with the many ramblers, climbers and bird watchers who genuinely appreciate tranquillity, landscape and wildlife.

No, the sort of people who get my goat are typified by a Guardian columnist called George Monbiot (aka Great Moonbat). He is patronising and so determinedly tolerant (in the strictly left-wing sense) that he is deeply intolerant of anybody who doesn’t happen to share his right-on beliefs about the environment, global warming and the need for state sector micro-management.

Recently, he wrote a large piece entitled This Tory bonfire of regulations lets the rich foul the poor with impunity. Mr Moonbat was scathing about the new taskforce that has been set up to review and cut through the myriad rules and regulations that trammel farming and rural life generally.

To The Guardian, imposing common sense on regulations equates to waving precisely the wrong sort of red flag. This is a paper, after all, that depends on a rampant public sector for its commercial livelihood. Its jobs pages are famous for listing a plethora of lucrative non-jobs (Youth well-being outreach worker and suchlike). To the environment Taliban, agriculture is the Great Satan, and the only reason the landscape hasn’t been comprehensively trashed is because dedicated public sector officials have managed to contain the destructive antics of the moneygrubbing subsidy junkies commonly known as farmers.

So it’s not surprising that Great Moonbat was outraged that the rural regulations taskforce in question is being led by — gasp — a former employee of the National Farmers’ Union and includes …the head of public affairs at the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. This group purports to protect wildlife, but it runs fox snaring courses and gives advice on setting spring traps to catch smaller predators.

Note the carefully crafted phraseology. Head of public affairs conjures up visions of a mere lobbyist. In reality, the person in question is Dr Steve Tapper, senior scientist and head of policy at the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT ) — a man with impeccable credentials who has contributed more to wildlife conservation than all the Moonbats of the world flocked together. The reference to the GWCT as a group belies the fact that it is an independent, highly regarded science charity, producing peer-reviewed research that makes it a leader in its field. And the mention of fox snaring is snide. Yes, the GWCT advises on legal, humane methods of predator control, but how many Guardian readers know that this advice is put to good effect on many of the UK’s nature reserves? Finally, his use of the term spring traps probably misled the average reader into thinking of leg-hold traps. Accident or design? I leave you to judge.

Having denigrated the GWCT, Great Moonbat goes on to lament that there is no one on the taskforce representing rural workers… A noble sentiment, coming as it does from a descendant of French aristocrats, who was educated at public school and Oxford.

Great Moonbat has never really worked in the countryside. In fact, as far as I can tell, he has never done a day’s useful work in his life. On graduating from Oxford, his first job was as a radio producer with the BBC Natural History Unit. Since then, he has become an environmental commentator.

I rest my case.

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