Monday 25 September, 2023

Good Evans: "I've not yet made my mind up about Rishi"

This month Roger Evans discusses the Milk Marketing Board, the importance of food security, and gives his opinions on the members of the Government

clock • 4 min read
Good Evans: "I've not yet made my mind up about Rishi"

It's a funny old world we live in. If you are not bothered about my political opinions then turn the page.

First under my scrutiny are the water boards; they pollute water courses every day to an extent that farmers wouldn't dare to do once in a lifetime, and they do this quite openly. The only good thing to come out of this is that everyone now knows.

If ever there were an example of ‘one law for the rich', this has to be it. I was never in favour of privatising the utilities anyway. What we had was not perfect, but at least it worked. With a bit of fine-tuning it could have worked better.

Now we have a succession of industries returning to public ownership, not because public ownership is a better way, but because private ownership hasn't worked.

All of this initially was driven by the political dogma of the time and that also led to the demise of the Milk Marketing Board (MMB).

For several years I was involved in the co-operatives which succeeded the MMB and I used to despair when older farmers used to say ‘we could do with the MMB back'. But perhaps they were right?

The writers for Dairy Farmer were very different in those days; there were about six of us and we all used to write every month. I can't remember why, but the MMB was getting a bad press at the time, so invited all of us writers to spend the day at the headquarters of the MMB at Thames Ditton.

They thought it was a sort of reunion for us, but the truth was that many of us lived miles apart and we were meeting for the first time.

We spent an afternoon at Thames Ditton and the excesses were plain to see. The place was huge and warm with staff. I particularly remember that there were two big limousines and two chauffeurs to fetch and carry notable guests.

At the end of the afternoon we were taken by coach to a posh hotel in the centre of London. A meal was put on for us that night and we were drilled about MMB.

At about 10pm, our host (a PR man) made a big show of getting up, yawning and stretching and saying that we had an early start next day. I very casually asked him what room he was in and we drank in his room number until the early hours.

It was back to Thames Ditton the next morning and we finished with a Q&A session. I didn't ask any questions. I can still remember my hangover.

Food security

One of the things we all hope for is that food security will move up the agenda. Not that any of us want food shortages, it's just that it should be an important part of any party's future strategy.

We take the need for clean water and power as necessities of life, surely food supply should be up there as well?

Change is an essential to life as well and only when food security is challenged will we get the hope that our efforts will be appreciated.

Don't expect any hope before the next General Election; food prices will be under pressure as in an attempt to bring inflation down.

It's not the Government, but the supermarkets which have kept food prices down for a few generations.

If you are a dairy farmer and you have a bad price for your milk and, at the same time are challenged by TB, then your very living is precarious.

Rishi Sunak

I've not yet made my mind up about Rishi Sunak. He seems to face a crisis every week and goes to great lengths to say that the crisis is not of his making, but I'm not so sure and my jury is still out.

Boris Johnson is a sort of Marmite figure. I think he would be a good companion on a long journey. I don't think he is much bothered about food and farming, as he's too busy feathering his own nest.

It's his wife that we need to be wary of. It's true that she doesn't have the power she had when Boris had the top job, but she has some wealthy and influential friends and we mustn't underestimate her influences. I bet she is working away in the background.

The best thing I can say about Keir Starmer is that at least he isn't Jeremy Corbyn. He's got some very clever young ladies in his shadow cabinet, but they tend to be very left wing and aggressive with it.

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