We want our leaders to take action that is good for all of us
Amy Leech - 21 August 2014
The run up to an election provides good, albeit expensive, entertainment in my book.
The recent cabinet reshuffle warm-up gig was the prelude to next year's festivities, and I can only thank Owen Paterson for one of the first highlights; his unadulterated thoughts on the countryside, the people he claims to serve, and the “unelected busy bodies” in the green lobby.
Paterson said he had “great misgivings” about the power and irresponsibility of environmental pressure groups, distinguishing them from local conservatives or “ordinary people” who are doing a “wonderful job” living and working in the countryside.
That 80% of us live in urban areas aside, Paterson seemed oblivious to the fact that our health and that of our children, the food we eat and the plight of the honey bee concerns every one of us, whether we’re teachers, farmers or marketers in Birmingham, London or our much cherished countryside.
Paterson says his goal was to protect our environment too, although setting this claim against his CV in the job is an interesting exercise, featuring as it does acheivements such as:
- Voting against an EU-wide ban on pesticides that overwhelming evidence says are harming honey bee populations and seriously threatening our ability to feed ourselves.
- Heading off a ban on fracking and speaking up against renewable energy, in the same year that scientists globally agreed that our future depends on fossil fuels staying in the ground.
- Voting for devolved powers so the government can choose for us whether GM crops will be grown in this country, even though the majority of us do not want to eat them.
We expect better. That’s why, with the publication of our Square Meal report
, Soil Association stands united alongside nine other organisations, and the millions of people they represent, The National Trust, RSPB, Friends of the Earth, The Wildlife Trusts and many others, in calling for the next government to show the leadership we expect from those in power, for them to make much needed changes to our national food and farming policy.
We want to the see our leaders committing to taking action that is good for all of us; to make sure everyone can access and afford good food, to reverse the decline in birds and bees, to invest in truly sustainable food that we can trust.
It was heartening to see Defra last month publish the new Plan for Public Procurement
that will support caterers and food suppliers across the country put British, local, fresh and sustainable on our plates and, in the PM's words, "help British farmers create more jobs and invest in more sustainable practices and millions to eat better quality food."
The plan is a welcome step in the right direction, and I hope the first of many.
Cameron will be hoping Paterson’s successor, Liz Truss, fairs better standing up for what matters to many of us most of all – there are millions of voters watching closely from the seats at the back.