James Kirkup, writing in the Daily Telegraph, in a blatant attempt to 'big-up' the comment piece by Caroline Spelman, pens that Spelman pledges that farmers, rural businesses and residents will get a “hotline straight to the heart of Government” allowing them to raise concerns with ministers directly. As can be seen, what Spelman actually wrote was that she is creating a rural hotline straight to the heart of Government through 14 Rural and Farming Networks; that this is a new way of working; that these networks will give rural business and community leaders a direct link to her and her team to tell them their problems so they can find ways to help. So Kirkup, where exactly does the word "residents" occur in Spelman's article?
In effect all Spelman has done is to create a direct communication channel between central government and its acolytes within local government and 'stakeholders' on how the latter can implement central government diktats and how to pass these off to the public as 'localism'. Where local 'problems' exist and are at variance with national policies, it is perhaps pertinent to repeat that which my Member of Parliament - who also happens to be the nation's Prime Minister - informed me at a constituency surgery, namely that where local policy, or local 'requirements', conflict with national policy, national policy will reign supreme - a comment which prompted my rejoinder that that is the constituents of Witney disenfranchised then. It is also disingenuous of Spelman to say that direct contact with ministers by real people with real practical knowledge will benefit those people - as I found out to my cost when I was granted an audience with Grant Shapps!
On the subject of farmers and farming, it is again disingenuous of Spelman to intimate that their industry can be 'improved', or 'helped', when farmers are constrained by the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which in effect dictates what can be produced, at what price and how farming is organised - matters over which Spelman has little, if any, control.
All the foregoing underlines that we do not have 'democracy' per se - we have democratised dictatorship, one dictated at every level by our nation's membership of the European Union.
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