George Eustice speech

And transcript here.

I didn’t mention it yesterday but when a Cornish farmer throws an ornithological fact into a speech it is often like former Prime Ministers claiming that they are keen supporters of football teams – unconvincing.

Yesterday we had the Kentish Plover ‘fact’ from George Eustice in an attempt to get down with the birders. He said that ‘The last breeding populations of Kentish plovers were lost in 1928.’ when Conservative, Stanley Baldwin was Prime Minister, which is, of course, about as up to date as Tory politicians are with wildlife in the countryside. Mr Eustice must have dipped on the breeding of a pair at Gib Point in Lincolnshire in 1979 (Margaret Thatcher, Conservative, Prime Minister) and the pair that nested at Rye Harbour in 1956 (Anthony Eden, Conservative, Prime Minister) but in any case the species hung on as a regular UK breeding species into the early 1930s (Rmsay MacDonald, Labour, Prime Minister).


6 Replies to “George Eustice speech”

  1. For ornithological facts he should have stuck with something much simpler. For example: the last year in which there were no protected birds of prey killed illegally.

    1. Stuart I think that was probably the last year they were unprotected.
      He could have used the loss of Red-backed Shrike, Wryneck or Golden Oriole all more recent than Kentish Plover and due more to the way we manage the countryside.

  2. When I think of George Eustice which I must admit up until now has been almost never I have an overwhelming image of Beige. I would prefer Green even if only Pale Avocado. But – in his favour – there cannot be many senior politicians who are not only qualified for their post by virtue of growing Fruit but also actually hail from their constituency. If Nikolai Vavilov were still alive he might designate Hayle as the Centre of Diversity for Cornish Pasties and therefore the most likely place for their origin despite the ongoing debate over whether they are plants or animals.

  3. He may have got the details wrong about the date of the last Kentish Plover breeding records in the UK but he was correct about the overall trajectory of British wildlife since the 1930s. We should be grateful perhaps that he did not attempt to suggest that a boom in wood pigeon numbers makes up for the losses of skylarks, corn buntings, turtle doves and nightingales!

    It is good that Mr Eustice recognises there is a serious problem and is promising to do something about it. Unfortunately, words are cheap and his reiterating the government’s ‘commitment’ to leaving the environment in a better state than they found it merely underlines this. The Tories have been occupying Downing Street for 10 years since they first made this pledge and there are precious few signs of the environment having improved during this time. Meanwhile the oafish Johnson in his own speech has already painted wildlife protections as a barrier to economic progress. It is hard to feel optimistic.

  4. It can be killer when a Minister actually does know anout wildlife – There’s the story of Elliot Morley being invited to zcardiff Bay to be convinced how wonderful the garrage would be whipping out his binoculars and counting 15 species of wader. His fall from grace shouldn’t be allowed ( in a Stalinist way) to wipe out his great work ad a Minister.

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