LIKE every aspect of the EU referendum debate, the decision of senior figures from the farming community to back David Cameron’s stance will divide opinion.
There will be those who contend that farming cannot survive without EU subsidies and access to Europe’s export markets while others will say that fears about the ability of a mismanaged Defra, and the crisis-hit Rural Payments Agency, to come up with their own system of support for the food industry should not stand in the way of a more ambitious outlook.
At least the issues have been sufficiently clearcut for farming leaders to reach a view. The same cannot be said for other industries. It is a dilemma not helped by a tetchy campaign in which both the In and Out campaigns are resorting to scaremongering, and other inflammatory language, to make their points. That both sides are fractured, with splinter groups now emerging, does not help voters to make sense of these important matters.
As such, the contrast with the conduct on the 1975 referendum on whether Britain should remain a member of the European Economic Community, the precursor to today’s EU super-state, could not be greater. Then heavyweight politicians from both the Labour and Tory parties opposed each other on ideological grounds which were expressed with great gravitas.
Philosophical political speeches were news events in their own right. Now mudslinging, whether here or in America’s toxic presidential race, has taken over because of the tendency of today’s politicians to insult their opponents rather than have the courage of their convictions and make more substantive points of their own. All they’re doing is insulting the intelligence of all those voters who wish to be appraised of the facts before making a decision which will shape the UK’s future for a generation. It’s a democratic right that the electorate should no longer be denied.
Generation game: A new perspective to the Dales
A MYRIAD of reasons explains why the Yorkshire Dales is cherished around the world for its breathtaking beauty. For some, the reasons are personal.
For others, it is the largely unspoilt landscapes and the sense of perspective provided by tumbledown field barns. As such, any decision by National Park planners to pave the way for these buildings, uninhabited for decades and with little access to basic amenities to be converted into homes will divide those who do not want Yorkshire’s countryside to be spoilt and those who say the Dales will become unsustainable if it becomes a museum piece.
It’s important that the latter view holds sway – the lifeblood of the Dales depends on its towns, villages and hamlets evolving so these communities and, crucially, local services can withstand those demographic and economic changes which are in danger of making Yorkshire’s rural heartlands so unattractive to younger people, even those born and bred on farms.
It is all the more essential that any relaxation of the planning rules comes with the caveat that priority will always be given to those applications that prioritise the needs of local people.
For, if these conversions simply become holiday homes for a rich elite, it will defeat the object of the exercise which is to safeguard the Dales for the next generation.
Geoff Boycott’s battles – Yorkshire will always be greater than one player
ONLY Geoffrey Boycott and Yorkshire County Cricket Club could have such a love-hate relationship that continues to polarise opinion 30 years after the opening batsmen, one of the most single-minded players in the history of his sport, played his final innings.
The latest instalment in this decades-long drama is the desire of the Test Match Special pundit to become a board member of the club – he is concerned about the health of the white rose county’s finances – while the powers-that-be would prefer Boycott to be an international ambassador.
As Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan used Twitter to implore his TMS colleague to “back down”, and YCCC members become dragged into the minutiae of the club’s constitution ahead of a potentially tempestuous AGM that will stir memories of previous battles, it is ironic that a civil war has erupted in the aftermath of two successive County Championship wins – still the holy grail of cricket.
Given this, many will be stumped by recent events. After all, these successes were supposed to provide firm foundations for the future, not least Yorkshire’s dynamic youth programme, and this should be of greater importance than one ex-player’s desire, however well-intended, for a last hurrah at Headingley.