He lives in a house, a very big house in the country…

Big society, no to state intervention propping up lame ducks (or supporting a perfectly viable enterprise like Sheffield Forgemasters), let the market decide, blah blah blah….

Meanwhile a Government minister’s family gets £2 million in farming subsidies to supplement his £125 million fortune. Check out his house… Oh, and he’s a farming minister too. Defra has not one but two farmers in their ministerial team. I suppose it could be seen like having teachers in the Education department – except they’re still farming, and their incomes seem to be directly affected by Government policies. I suppose we had Lord Darzi in our Health team (as an unpaid Minister) and he was still working as a surgeon, but doesn’t seem quite the same to me.

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  • matthewsdent  On February 27, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Having a paid minister, who is still earning money in the same field that they’re serving in, is a clear conflict of interest.

    It’s not the same as teachers in education (who a) aren’t going to be teachers at the same time as being ministers, and b) aren’t going to be pushing through big fat pay rises for themselves). And it’s not the same as an unpaid advisor in a ministry who is still working in that field.

    Sadly, it’s illustrative of a trend within current governmental thinking, the same thinking that has seen Lansley hand over health policy to big businesses like MacDonalds and Coca-Cola.

  • Andrew Baxter  On February 27, 2011 at 11:46 am

    A typically spiteful class-envy inspired piece from a Labour MP. At least he has experience of the real-world outside politics, unlike Messrs Miliband and Balls. If you are so worried about a farmer receiving subsidies through the CAP, why did your government do ntothing to reform it during thirteen years in power? Oh yes, you will too busy creating a legion of subsidy and welfare dependent junkies, reliant on the state to lead every aspect of their lives.

  • Martin Parker  On February 27, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Why does this story not suprise me? It seems that all the millionaires in the cabinet are just out to exploit the system & get even more rich, whilst the rest of us struggle to survive!

  • Jonathan  On February 27, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Why should it matter? He is a very fortunate man, true, but the amount of money he has doesn’t affect how he does his job. Whether the EU should be giving out subsidies is another matter – I think the whole CAP is terrible. Furthermore, the very fact that he is a farmer should be welcomed, not criticised. Being in a certain profession gives a wealth of experience and knowledge that would help any minister in their respective role.

    I voted for this man, my MP, not because he lives in a big house or has gots lots of money. But because he had the ideas, the drive, the knowledge, and empathy for all his constituents – no matter what their status.

    May I suggest you think carefully before you take cheap shots at a political opponent, and instead construct a meaningful argument.

    • kerrymccarthy  On February 27, 2011 at 12:58 pm

      It’s a not a cheap shot. I’m making two clear points. Why do the Tories sit comfortably with the idea of agricultural subsidies, but refuse an £80m loan to Forgemasters? (NB a loan – not even a grant!) And isn’t there a conflict of interest in him doing his minsterial job? I’ve also blogged before on the fact that Defra has gone back to the old days of being the Department of Agriculture, representing producers of food rather than consumers. Look at Paice for example, and his action on badger-culling (farmers want it, Paice backs it, despite the fact there’s no scientific basis for culling), and his support for Nocton Dairies – which thankfully was overturned by mass public opposition. He seemed incapable of looking at the issue from consumers’ point of view, he could only see it from the point of view of farmers and whether it would enable them to make more money.

      • Jonathan  On February 27, 2011 at 5:04 pm

        Thank you for your more argument-based explanation! I can’t speak for Jim Paice, but I think I can say a little about farms. While many of the farms are huge estates, already flowing with money (as you rightly emphasise), there is a significant minority of small farms that struggle year-in, year-out just to break even. The farmers are literally living on pennies a day, struggling under the weight of Environment Agency regulation, and EU bureaucracy. Eventually, the small farms are squeezed out of the market, and are merged into the big estates, who then go on to sell their produce overseas! It’s because the CAP overwhelmingly favours bigger farms. (I may add that alot of Tories sit very uncomfortably with both the CAP and the rejection of the forgemasters loan). I also agree that Defra should be looking out for the interests of consumers, but they should also be supporting the farmers in helping to create a strong and diverse agricultural sector that has been lacking in this country for at least the last 20 years – it provides so much potential.

      • kerrymccarthy  On February 27, 2011 at 5:05 pm

        I accept your arguments about struggling small farms – which is partly why the local Tory MP opposed the Nocton application, in that such a huge milk production plant would undercut smaller producers and make their livelihoods even less sustainable.

  • matthewsdent  On February 27, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    “spiteful class-envy”? Really? Kerry’s pointing out a legitimate conflict of interest within the government, and her point is invalid because you disagree with her own politics? What a ridiculous way to look at things.

    Most of the government is made up of millions. Most of the British population, on the other hand, are not millionaires. If making that point is “class-envy” and therefore out of bounds, then there’s something terribly wrong with our political discourse.

  • sturdyblog  On February 27, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    The fallacy of the last century is that of wealth creation. The fact is there is a limited amount of everything to go around – space, food, water, everything. If A has grossly more than he needs, then B, C and D will have significantly less. It is the person with a 125 million fortune that creates “a legion of subsidy and welfare dependent junkies”. And for that person to be directly responsible for shaping policy that can make them a lot more is wrong. If the very same scenario was reported about a central African government official, we would be calling it corruption. In this fair land it is called “The Free Market”.

  • Andrew Baxter  On February 27, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Mmmmm….. fine for her to criticise the current government but conveniently forgetting many of her own Shadow Cabinet are millionaires as well: http://order-order.com/2010/10/11/shadow-cabinet-of-millionaires/

    • kerrymccarthy  On February 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm

      That’s about as factually inaccurate as the rest of Guido’s bilge. Not to mention irrelevant.

  • Leroy  On February 27, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Yes, it is fine for her to criticise the current government. That’s her job.

    There’s nothing wrong with subsidising farmers, but only if they need it. I would say that it is a Tory ideal to not give state money to those that don’t need it or have not earned it. He doesn’t need that money and shouldn’t be allowed to claim it while being part of a government that is cutting funding and support for many that are far, far worse off than him. There’s nothing wrong with being well off, but there is something wrong with being greedy when others are hungry; that is immoral.

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