I've got a union flag which I was going to fly from the roof for the coronation but eventually decided not to.
I have, however, got a better use for it.
I’m going to send it to Defra so they can run it up the mast on the roof whenever Thérèse Coffey is sitting at her desk and working.
I doubt, somehow, it will be taken out of its box very often because Defra now appears to have an absentee boss.
One who is doing the job in name only and is so out of touch with her department she might as well be sitting at home in front of the telly every day.
Not only does Ms Coffey display no interest in the farming industry and its current crop of problems–to the extent of having been accused of treating it with contempt–she seems woefully unconcerned about what is happening in the corridors and offices of her own department.
So when an official appraisal recently savaged Defra citing poor leadership and generally low morale as one of the probable reasons why no-one wants to work there (there are severe staff shortages) Ms Coffey simply announced she was unaware of any morale problems.
Well if she’s hardly ever at her desk that is hardly surprising.
Her performance–or lack of it–as Defra Secretary has merely reinforced farmers’ loathing for a branch of Government which has constantly turned a deaf ear to the grass roots (and thus extremely valuable) views of those of us who work the land; has loftily handed down regulations and protocols which only people with a complete knowledge vacuum about the industry could possibly formulate; and constantly gives the impression of being as familiar with the practicalities of farming as I am with the challenges of ascending Everest.
The hot seat at Defra has been occupied by a long line of undistinguished politicians, one or two because it provided a stepping some to higher and better things, others for whom it has been given as a kind of banana skin to speed their exit from ministerial office of any kind.
But rarely have I encountered the kind of feeling that is now so prevalent among farmers that their opinions, profitability and futures count for nothing as far as this Government is concerned.
And that the only goal now is to source as many cheap consumables as possible from anywhere on the globe–however low-quality or unhealthy they may be - in order to fill the retailers’ shelves and perpetuate the illusion that food is still cheap: a policy whose effects will only become apparent long after Ms Coffey has disappeared. Not that she would be prepared even now to put her hand up to having any part in.
David Handley (Farmers for Action)