Sir Simon Jenkins rallies against special interest groups in his Guardian column this morning.
“The coalition government, which started in a spirit of reformist radicalism, is proving one whose inexperience and shaky majority leaves it vulnerable to lobbyists.”
Jenkins argues that the maths and the make up of the government renders it weak. He lists a range of special interest groups from green technology to the anti-abortion lobby, raging that the government is “putty”. However he saves most of his venom for one area in particular – planning. Jenkins isn’t very happy about changes to the development policy that will affect rural areas:
“This coup was achieved by a deft alliance of private housebuilders, big retailers and the “affordable rural housing” lobby. They argued that, even though they were sitting on the largest land banks ever, rural land shortage was a constraint on growth. Environment ministers reeling from defeat over the fate of the Forestry Commission caved in, but were then baffled at the fury of green organisations outraged to see the end of 50 years of countryside guardianship. The lobby could not believe its luck”
Sir Simon’s love of the countryside is well documented in his many books, but could there be another reason why he is so angry about these changes? A professional reason perhaps? He clearly has some expertise in the area, probably due to the fact he is the chairman of a prominent special interest group – the National Trust. Given the frontline role the organisation played in lobbying the government over the forest sell off, you would think a man of Sir Simon’s integrity would have declared an interest…