The age of austerity

Mr News Editor, Mr Chief Reporter and I went into London on Tuesday to have lunch with DEFRA farm minister Jim Paice.

We were meeting him ahead of his official announcement about the possibility of allowing farmers to cull badgers to help combat bovine tuberculosis. The idea was we’d get the low-down on the consultation plans so we could get cracking on covering the story as soon as the embargo was lifted, and also have a bit of a catch-up with Jim about upcoming farm politics stuff.

While I might not agree with some of his or his party’s politics, I do like Jim. I’ve dealt with him for five years now and I’m not sure he ever really thought he’d get the senior role he’s been handed. Which is which I like the fact that his position of authority hasn’t changed him, or the down-the-line way he speaks.

Yes, other ministers thought he was “bonkers” for taking on responsibility for sorting out the RPA.

Yes, he’d be an idiot to think he wasn’t going to face a legal challenge over any badger cull plans he might give the go-ahead.

No, we weren’t going to trick him into giving us any clue where DEFRA plans on making budget cuts.

My favourite line though was when we were getting ready to leave:

“I assume you’re paying for this. The taxpayer doesn’t pick up lunch bills.”

Without waiting for a reply, he got up, swept past the maitre d, and left the restaurant.

If this is what politics is in the age of austerity, I love it.

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1 Response to “The age of austerity”


  1. Mike

    Great stuff Ms Stocks. But you should work for the arable desk…I’ve never paid for a lunch yet!!!

    PS Do you think your friend Jim has read this post: http://www.nufsaid.net/2010/04/25/serious-journalism/