I had hoped there would be a Gardiner in Defra after the election, but I had hoped it would be Barry Gardiner MP.
What has happened is that Lord Rupert de Mauley has gone and he hasn’t been replaced as a full minister (and as far as I can see he hasn’t got another job in government). Instead, Lord Gardiner, formerly of the Countryside Alliance, will represent Defra in the House of Lords. A kind of mini-minister which represents a further cut in Defra’s standing as a government department in terms of clout and resources.
The choice of Lord Gardiner is an interesting one given that he is a former chair of a fox hunt as well as former Director of Political Affairs of the Countryside Alliance and then their Deputy Chief Executive.
Will the government go for a free vote on fox hunting soon (as suggested by former Countryside Alliance Chief Exec, Simon Hart MP)? If so, one wonders at the enthusiasm and wisdom of going for more countryside controversy (because there will also be more badger blood spilled ineffectively) on any measure of Hen Harrier brood meddling. Particularly when the grouse interests can’t control themselves enough to leave many Hen Harriers flapping around the north of England.
It has been suggested that the mass of SNP MPs, rather than abstaining on a devolved issue for England and Wales, might vote against the repeal of the hunting ban. That would be interesting! There would be even more sense in SNP Mps at Westminster voting on any matters that affect Hen Harriers, as many Scottish birds move through England, where they are at considerable jeopardy, in spring and autumn. Again, interesting!