Worst job in the world?

By Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs  via Wikimedia Commons
By Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs via Wikimedia Commons

It used to be said that Home Secretary was the worst Ministerial job to have because you were so at the mercy of events.  If someone breaks into Buck House and has a chat with the Queen one night then it’s your fault.

Surely, the mantle has long since passed to the Sec of State for Environment (F&RA)?

Foot and mouth (which caused the existence of Defra), bird flu, ash dieback, badgers moving the goalposts, floods and even too much horse in beefburgers, are all the fault of the man or woman in residence at Nobel House when the music stops.

And then you have people like the Prince of Wales and the Prime Minister swanning around and throwing the odd criticism here and the odd £100m there.

OpatIt’s almost enough to make one feel sorry for Owen Paterson isn’t it? Well, almost.

Am I the only one (I bet I’m not) who finds the adverts for the BBC coverage of the gay-bashing Winter Olympics a bit irritating?  It’s the bit about ‘Nature – who will conquer it?’.  I bet that’s the question that runs around Owen Paterson’s head each night – and maybe keeps him awake.

I wonder what’s next?

And I wonder who’s next?



Gosh I wish I could get out and see some wildlife – what with weather, plumbers and electricians – oh, and a bit of work to do – I feel caged up!

I’ll be closing the readers’ survey fairly soon.  Over 800 of you have completed the survey and I will close it when it gets to 854 (for a trivial reason which I will reveal next week with the results).




21 Replies to “Worst job in the world?”

  1. Yes that ‘conquering nature’ bit really annoys me too Mark!
    And there has been much damage to a World Heritage Site (with wolves and bears) in building the mountain village…and the most expensive bit of new road ever to be built..among many other ‘issues’!
    BTW: a very interesting set of Farming Today programmes this week on Radio 4 at 5.45 am. Today Martin Harper vs. NFU on HLS etc and a piece about JR with the CPRE.
    Listen again-able at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qj8q . Tomorrow a WL Trust showing off its farm.

  2. The word on the gogglebox last night was that Sir Les has to have an operation this weekend on a detatched retina, poor chap (maybe it became detatched when Dave announced he’d suddenly found £100m for flood defence stuffed down the back of his austerity sofa?). So that nice Eric Pickles is in charge of protecting the Somerset Levels from the fury of the elements this weekend. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse…

    1. Pickles or Sir Les – surely there is someone in the entire government with a little more knowledge of the environment than those two?

    2. One does indeed have to take care when wishing. Maybe we’re to go back to DOE and MAFF!

  3. I’m reading Collapse by Jared Diamond. He’s just asked ‘what was the guy who felled the last tree on Easter Island thinking ?’ I don’t know the answer to that one, but we do know the answer top the tree felling that reduced England from 80+% forest to just 4% ‘ We must win the war in the trenches’ – that was just 100 years ago – have we learnt much in between ?

    The other thing that resonates (and I’ll wait with interest to see whether he picks it up more incisively) is that in most cases there seems to have been a privileged elite who believe their wealth and power insulates them from the consequences of their actions until its too late.

    We can see everything Jared talks about playing out right in front of us, right now: the only difference is we have more power, more knowledge and a far greater ability to do both good and bad than our ancestors – so how are we doing so far ?

    1. Hmmmm,

      Not sure about the felling of England’s forests from 80+% to just 4% for the war effort in 1914, Roderick. Began a long time before that if Defra and the FC is to be believed, see here – http://tinyurl.com/qfrz45d – on page 21.

      I’ve told you a million times not to exaggerate…..

  4. Difficult to feel sorry for a man who can’t find his own wellies. Perhaps he left them in a Cobra meeting after he’d worn them there so they all knew he was in charge of the floods.

  5. His is the very face of arrogance (with a hint of bitterness) Totally inept, you’ll be asking if we should feel sorry for Boris next….

  6. Sorry, I don’t come anywhere near close to feeling sorry for Paterson. Cameron defended him because he has a rural constituency. Well I live surrounded by sugar beet but it doesn’t make me a specialist in it.

    Anyway, we should be evacuating the Somerset Levels and giving it over to a natural wetland and flood plain for good. The number of people affected there is nothing compared to the total number of people affected by the east coast storms (and now south-west coast storms). And we’ll be giving up on increasing amounts of our coastline in due course too. Somerset levels may mitigate some of the loss of coastal habitats.

    The Winter Olympic ad bugs the hell out of me too! Using bulldozers and whatever else to make nice level slopes, jumps and runs for athletes to fly down has nothing to do with conquering nature. They should all just start at the top of a mountain and race for the bar in the village below – James Bond style under paintball gunfire 😉 Thats not conquering nature either but it might be something I’d watch!

  7. Well I have sympathy for O P,he has at least had the guts to tackle things other politicians fear might blight their career.Lets face it we are never going to agree with any politician all the time.
    Whatever are people doing criticising him on his levels visit because the locals shouted at him,if he had kept them away that would have been worse.He now at least knows how strongly they feel,well done to him.

    1. He is the Minister, so it goes with the territory. But come on Dennis, politicians & ‘tackle things’ in the same sentence now that would be a Red Data species & I’ve not spotted many of them around at the moment!

      If there was a requirement that any such post should have intelligent and dare I risk it ‘qualified’ candidates then instead of listening to politically aspiring civil servants who seek promotion rather than a long term solution we might not be in this mess.

      I’m sure that there would be lots of volunteers for ‘twinning’ trips or ‘information gathering’ visits to see how other countries deal with excessive rainfall.


  8. Have just seen O P got to have op for detached retina,come on folks show some sympathy.

    1. I have sympathy for my elderly neighbour who has a detached retina from excessive coughing owing to lung disease from a life time working in the building industry. For OP I would just take it as a sign its time to throw in the towel. Nobody will miss him least of all the badgers, hen harriers and buzzards.

    2. I do Dennis, for the poor NHS staff who might have to pamper to him. Or, did he go private I wonder, do MPs have BUPA cover as part of their enhancements?

  9. Mud-Lark,like your views,if he went private it may of course be a benefit to the NHS if as in some cases the op done on a Saturday so not taking a patients place on the NHS waiting list.I think we have to respect the better off in all occupations to go private if that is their wish.

    1. Cheers Dennis. No problem with ‘better off’ going private as you rightly say ‘choice’.

      The issue for me would be that he and the other 649 are paid by us and his package is agreed in corridors but still financed from the public purse. Neither politicians nor bankers palates are used to common ‘pig-swill’ but seem to believe they deserve better than their paymasters. By paymasters I mean the public (you & I) not business interests destroying LNRs etc.

      We have no choice, it’s a two party all mates together and when it comes to culling a good proportion of the 1450 Westminster clique there’s a new comradeship develop to save the species! Coalition, collaboration call it what you will they do marginally worse than the NGOs at that game!

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