Brexit...If I was Prime Minister for a Day
I write as bystander layman, desperate to join a march towards a better future for my industry, British pig production.
No one can accurately forecast the eventual, tangible outcome of Brexit. I wouldn’t have voted for it if I had been trying to focus on this, I focused on what history had to say and what I could see immediately in front of me. The ultimate consequence of the evolution of an ideology that becomes increasingly irrational is fanaticism. History records waves of political and religious fanaticism and civilization bears the scars. The European political union has been a rather short-lived empire without a single emperor. It established, in a critical period of European history, the worship of urbanization and its annexation of the countryside in the minds of its power source, the increasingly economically affluent in society, whether indigenous or migratory. Unfortunately, the United Kingdom, on being late to the top table embraced this ideology with a vengeance creating possibly, the greatest level of disconnect between the population and its agriculture, in Europe.
As a nation, we took the lead in burying agriculture under a perception that it was the hobby of a greedy few, harvesting the largess of the grand European plan. The plan being to find within its single border the areas of the ratio of the lowest costs of production to the highest yields, of all that it could produce. For a time, it resorted to the biblical precedent of Joseph (he of the multi-coloured dream-coat) and filled up its store houses on a scale of the dimensions of mountains and lakes. And then, when it had control, it sponsored irresponsibility, in a world where people still starve.
As a bystander layman, I am sure there is a multitude with a more accurate picture of events than me. Several proverbial buses could probably be driven though the above but what you have just read has driven me to think; because I care about my industry and the fact that it is so undervalued.
It is time to resurrect our industry in the full knowledge of the scope of commercial livestock agriculture, and horticulture to benefit society not just as a producer of food but as an intrinsic part of the character and values of a politically cohesive and rational ideology.
Former Defra Secretary Owen Paterson suggested that pensioners could replace absent EU migrant workers who normally picked the UK fruit crop. Farming Minister George Eustace, prompted by the NFU, has considered the possibility of something akin to the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) which ended in 2013.
If I was Prime Minister for a day, this is what I would tell my cabinet. (My foreign Secretary would have to be the Rt.Hon. Hugh Crabtree). ‘The last generation with direct connections to the true purpose of the countryside is filling heaven’s waiting room’. ‘I want the Secretary for Education to incorporate into the school curriculum at least one lesson a week where a volunteer scheme places these fonts of information into, one to one classroom discussion on the experiences of planting, breeding, raising, rearing, slaughtering, harvesting, cooking and eating food, as well as jumping ditches, climbing trees and knocking cans over with a catapult. I want the Secretary for Health to establish new care pathways for those recovering from physical sickness and the mental illness that include patient rehabilitation programmes within businesses operating in livestock agriculture, horticulture and arboriculture. I want the Secretary for Employment to revise the job seekers allowance regulations to include a defined number of hours per week gainfully employed in single or multiple facets of one of the three disciplines mentioned above and including subsequent processing operations. I want the Chancellor to ensure that an appropriate economic policy is in place that rewards the commitment of businesses taking part and covers the operating costs of these schemes. The money can be taken from the vast savings to the Exchequer that these measures will deliver. Furthermore, I want the prioritizing of any shortfalls in the UK’s labour requirement to be graded on the level of importance to the economy not whether it is skilled or unskilled, if you don’t understand this ask the Foreign Secretary’.
Okay; so apart from a short stint as a Parish Councillor, in my twenties and a parent governor in my forties, I know nothing about politics, that much is probably obvious. I am in my sixties and I see the incredible wealth of experience and the intense passion at the heart of my industry. This heart is not about the politics; it is about the possibilities. I am fortunate to be witnessing scientific discoveries in the biome and through DNA, that will define the industry long after God calls time on my adventure. That is the future now. And the past now; well that to, has a significant part to play as agriculture has an opportunity, through Brexit, to rejoin mainstream life in the UK. I voted to leave because we were walking backwards, being led by ‘europeans’. You cannot tell me Brexit is my fault, that is just too simplistic, too European. To say that Brexit makes me a bigot is stupid because sovereign borders are lines on a map, the history of the human heart tells a different story. Brexit cannot fail. It is, itself, a response to failure.