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Red-tape-wrapped chickens come home to roost


WHY did the chicken not cross the road? The answer to this modern-day brain-teaser is that DEFRA and the Department of Transport conducted a joint risk-assessment to determine that the chicken would face unacceptable hazard if free to move from the safety of its pavement.

There will have been a prior consultation, in principle open to the public but publicised selectively to the appropriate channels and interested third parties.

The report on the findings of that consultation will be compiled by panels of accredited experts selected on the basis that a predisposition for stasis is settled gallinaceous science.

The background is to be found in the 2016 Constraints on Road Usage (Poultry) Directive as originally proposed by a European Parliament Resolution, the terms of which have long been lost in a box transiting between Strasbourg and Brussels.

Implementation was actively supported by the East European Layer & Broiler Kombinat in 1992 and while not in full conformity with the prevailing European Commission thinking of the time, the Kombinat’s preferences were given additional weighting in order to promote a sense of inclusiveness for East European Accession States.

Elected UK politicians are no more than spectators at this scene of everyday life.

Forty years of subcontracting to the EU ever larger chunks of UK laws has a corrosive effect on government. Ministers become indolent and used to being manoeuvred by their officials and Brussels into positions which are agreed upon before they are even debated. Ministers following a line of least resistance become complicit in their own emasculation, and having surrendered their powers of agency at one level become more willing to surrender the reduced autonomy they retain.

British civil servants themselves develop a sense of kinship for fellow administrators in EU institutions who, like themselves, are ultimately accountable only to their own sort; all very cosy.

The retreat from taking responsibility is entrenched and ministers, MPs, local councillors and civil servants have created structures which are less in the interests of better governance and more to provide them with a shield for when things go wrong. The precautionary principle guides everything.

Government agencies such as the Passport Office and the DVLA have been spun off from government departments, and local authorities spawn Arm’s Length Management Organisations where the length of the arm counts for more than the organisational management.

Traditionally, Westminster regarded legislation as its exclusive preserve to be jealously guarded while Whitehall impartially saw to the implementation of the policies of whichever government was in power.

When parliamentarians show themselves ready to accept legislative initiatives formulated by others, a host of progressive campaign groups, lobbyists and charities pile in with initiatives that are often hostile to the wider population. Climate change activists manoeuvre Michael Gove and Ed Miliband into fawning over a joyless Pippi Longstocking cruelly manipulated by adults who must know better than to promote an autistic child with OCD to cult figurehead.

It’s also a little odd that a former education secretary should bend the knee to a schoolgirl who encourages children to bunk off school.

With charities this basic rule of thumb applies. If you’ve heard of a national charity with a boss who is paid more than £100k or it gets its funding other than by raising donations from folk willing to stump up, it’s not worth supporting voluntarily because you are probably already supporting it as a taxpayer.

These outfits often act as outposts for government spending on, say, overseas development or children’s ‘services’. Engorged with state funding, they then take it upon themselves to become overtly political and produce statistically dodgy reports on poverty in the UK or the shameful underfunding of their particular cash-hungry involvement with the state.

How much taxpayer funding is lavished on climate change professionals and their long-haul conferences? How far do the health scolds dig into the pockets of ordinary men and women in order to promulgate their propaganda and harass the population? Who wants this stuff? Who votes for it? And yet who pays for it?

Another institution that has limped into the gap with its Zimmer frame is the decrepit Church of England which now focuses almost all of its attention on what should be rendered unto Caesar, how much more should be rendered unto Caesar and how Caesar should spend all this rendition and more besides.

And when they’ve done with Caesar-bothering, they demand that we owe allegiance to some even greater authority than Caesar, probably greater even then the rarely mentioned and now only notional divinity.

Bishop Graham Kings believes that Nigel Farage, Dan Hannan ‘and the rest’ should not be standing in the Euro-elections because they are ‘traitors to the EU’.

Move over Judas Iscariot, says Bishop Kings, and make room in Hell for EU apostates.

What are the chances of MPs eventually taking up the responsibility of governing again and ignoring the quangos and interest groups that have usurped policy-making?

The current intake doesn’t look promising and the rising generation of Tories are a depressingly anodyne bunch. The new Overseas Development Minister, Rory Stewart, is as fine example of the breed as you could wish to find.

The playing fields of Eton where the Battle of Waterloo was said to have been won are now transformed into the crucible for non-exclusionary intersectional wokeness.

Explaining to Katy Balls of the Spectator why he would be good at the ‘job’ of prime minister, he begins by saying he would be really bad at running a ballet company because he doesn’t care for ballet, he is bored by ballet and feels he wants to die when he watches ballet.

Why pick on ballet? Well, it’s a minority interest and perceived as a bit posh and effete, so a fair target for a right-on putative prime minister.

It’s hard to admire a man who flaunts his philistinism and finds nothing to marvel about in people who excel in their field. Whether it be ballet, show-jumping, surgery or any other field of human endeavour, success comes to few and only after years of training and practice, so such people deserve respect. To work with people one can respect should be a privilege, and for MPs, a novelty.

Does Stewart believe it is essential for the manager of a dog-biscuit factory to have a vocational attachment to the world of dog biscuits or that he would be, as Stewart says, ‘rubbish’ at the job if he disliked dogs and kept a gerbil as a pet?

And as to being rubbish at a job – how much improved are UK jails after Stewart’s tenure as prisons minister? Perhaps running a ballet company would have been an easier gig for someone able to oversee the work of others with supportive tweets.

Rory Stewart is not alone, of course. Other prime ministerial hopefuls like Johnny Mercer and Tom Tugendhat long to pierce the Tory thatch of deadbeats like Hammond and Lidington to reach the sunny uplands of Number Ten.

They are every bit as dreary and share the identical ambition merely to run stuff as a worthwhile goal in its own right rather than having a philosophy or vision to achieve anything substantive for the country.

The European Parliament election results at the end of May will not surprise and may be the harbinger of something far-reaching and new. Rory Stewart reckons in his interview that he is best placed to take over from Theresa May because he has a uniquely suitable background amongst his parliamentary colleagues.

He may or may not be better than them but typical of his class – not Etonians in this case but the die-hards jostling with their complacent well-upholstered bottoms on the green benches – in that he overlooks the potential tidal wave of popular dissatisfaction that could replace the lot of them.

And when this happens will there be anyone at all to mourn the passing of a risk-averse political establishment corrupted by inertia, while chickens celebrate the freedom once again to cross the road and reach the other side?

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Laurence Hodge
Laurence Hodge
Laurence Hodge is a regular contributor to The Conservative Woman

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