Sometimes governments say they are going to do 20 daft things (they never put it quite like that) and then only do 10 daft things and they expect us all to be grateful. There ought to be a word for it – a Greek word – maybe there is – for a victory which you win with some effort but you would have won even if you had done nothing because the other side wasn’t in the fight.
Two things that may fall into that category, although the problem is that one rarely knows, are the non-merger of the EA and NE and the non-removal of a requirement to teach children to care for nature in the school curriculum.
Merging EA and NE would have been awful – the EA hardly has an environmental bone in its very large watery body and NE hardly has a bone in its environmental body these days. A merger would have created a spineless, flaccid jellyfish of a body looking after freshwater and terrestrial things – and that could obviously never work. Here’s good analysis from Martin Harper.
Let’s wait for the day when there is a merger of NE and bits of FC to create a Forest and Wildlife Service – if done properly that could be quite good.
And here is what government (England) is doing and not doing to the National Curriculum. [Is the fact that I always have to check how to spell curriculum a sign that I had a poor education (otherwise I would know) or that I had a good one (because I actually care?)]. And here is another piece of good analysis – this time from Jules Howard.
Governments always want to be able to say that they did some things we liked and some things we didn’t like so that must be fair, whereas an art of really good government is doing lots of things that are right and then persuading people to put up with them. I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that in the Labour days, Defra wanted to replace set-aside with something worth having but because it also wanted to say no to a badger cull it felt that it had to give the NFU something to shut it up.
It’s slightly shabby decisions like that one (for they are shabby – although, I say again, it’s only a suspicion on my part) that encourage the histrionics of the NFU and the CLA when they throw their toys out of their prams in outrage whenever government has a good idea. If you act like a toddler in a tantrum all the time then some government departments are weak enough to give into you sometimes. The NFU has been having temper tantrums in private and public for years and has never been given a firm talking to by any Secretary of State as far as I know (but how would I know?).