Why there is real hope for change in our countryside
How will the change of Government affect the civil servants and quangocrats who affect our lives so much these days? The people who actually make legislation, MPs, are now, for the first time in 13 years, not entirely ignorant of rural issues. That marks a step change. And boy, do the civil servants who work for them know it. Many of them are now scrambling to make adjustments in order to keep their careers running smoothly.
You can tell a lot about somebody by the newspaper they read. The one favoured by most members of the late, unlamented government was The Guardian. It was their house journal, a fount of all right-on thinking. And the same is true of the public sector in general. The thing about lefties, you see, is that they are so busy congratulating themselves on their enlightened tolerance, that they are hugely intolerant of anybody who doesnt agree with them.
The Guardian (and, to a lesser extent, the equally left wing The Independent) mirrors the views and prejudices of the urbanite, left wing establishment that runs most aspects of the public services. This left wing establishment was headed by the elected members of the Labour Government, but their patronage meant that the same virus infected the legions of placemen/women they inserted into the quangocracy (including, of course, the BBC). The civil servants and quangocrats who work under elected ministers are, of course, supposed to be strictly neutral. But then, the same is supposed to be true of the BBC, so we all know it doesnt happen. In truth, humans are not machines.
And so for the past 13 years the wheel continued to revolve, always reinforcing a certain set of viewpoints: farmers bad, ramblers good; shooting bad, football good; villagers bad, travellers good…
Today, however, a new set of politicians are in power at the top. They are more likely to read The Times or The Daily Telegraph than The Guardian. Take DEFRA, for example. Under the last government, it was headed by Hilary Benn, scion of a left wing dynasty. (Only a Labour government could have put an avowedly anti-hunting vegetarian in charge of the livestock industry.)
Today, DEFRA is headed by Caroline Spelman, a Tory MP who once worked in the agricultural sector. Her two junior ministers, the ones who make most of the decisions that affect rural matters, are also rural Tories James Paice and Richard Benyon. Suffice to say that both men shoot. No doubt the sandwiches provided at internal DEFRA meetings now contain roast beef and horseradish rather than tofu and guacamole.
This doesnt mean that we can expect favours from our friends in Parliament, let alone immediate results. They will be leaning over backwards to show that their own personal interests do not influence the wider national interest. But the key thing is that at last we have people in power who actually understand our point of view and our way of life. That is hugely significant when it comes to getting a fair hearing.
Civil servants tend to be experts at sniffing the wind. Many public sector workers are worried about their jobs and thats a concern I wouldnt wish on anybody. But we now have the first real chance in 13 years to get our messages across, and we cannot afford to squander the opportunity. If certain quangocrats and senior civil servants havent accepted that the old order has changed, then they must be confronted with their prejudices. Frankly, theyve had their day. Now its our turn.
Sticking with the Leftie press, The Observer is The Guardians Sunday stablemate. In a recent piece on concerns about raptors, an Observer columnist wrote: There is a variety of sensible and humane measures to protect the viability of sporting estates from the predations of the big birds. Protective nets can be placed over the fields where grouse breed