DEFRA Director Goldsmith Backs Extinction Rebellion

It’s been all of an hour since the last row within the Conservative Party so it’s obviously time for a new one: Extinction Rebellion. Over the weekend mass protests broke out in central London by the usual rabble, though unusually Labour came out to condemn the extremist group yesterday and call for an immediate injunction “to put a stop to this disruption.” The Tories were slightly incredulous given Labour’s opposition to the bill set to ban such protests…

This morning Labour’s anti-Extinction Rebellion stance was slammed by none other than Ben Goldsmith, eco brother of Zac and chair of the Conservative Environment Network, who tweeted “Not a good look from @UKLabour… I’m with @ExtinctionR”. Awkwardly, Ben is also a non-executive director of DEFRA…

Asked for a response to Goldsmith’s tweet a government source replied that George Eustice “was very clear about his view yesterday – people have a right to protest but not when it causes disruption. Ben has commented as an individual, and this isn’t government policy.”

Other responses included one Red Wall Tory telling Guido his tweet “is going down about as spectacularly as the Hindenburg amongst Tory MPs”. The tweet’s unsurprisingly been deleted…

UPDATE: Now Labour’s hit back at Goldsmith, with Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed saying “This from a Conservative official is an insult to people facing misery trying to get to work. While the government continues to refuse to act, Labour has called for immediate injunctions to put a stop to this disruption.”

mdi-timer 12 April 2022 @ 09:22 12 Apr 2022 @ 09:22 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Work-From-Home Whitehall: Do As We Say, Not As We Do

With the pandemic over, ministers have been making plenty of moves to get the country back to pre-pandemic normal, not least seeing workers return to the office to kickstart the economy. The powers that be in Whitehall however are determined to enforce one rule for ordinary officer workers and another for their own mandarins. An email sent to Department for Transport staff reveals they will still only have to come in to the office 2-3 days a week from September. Presumably travelling is too taxing for transport policymakers…

If you think that lacks ambition, Guido hears return plans are even more sluggish elsewhere in SW1. Guido understands that HMRC, which shares a building with the back-to-work pusher-in-chief Rishi Sunak, is merely aiming for staff to return for one day per week by the end of September, with the goal of “working up to” two of days a week in the office by December. This is on top of DEFRA which Guido revealed last week to still be boasting work-from-home options on job adverts. If ministers are briefing The Mail that workers should return to the office or see their pay slashed, those not on the public purse will rightly be asking why there’s one rule for them, and another for civil servants.

mdi-timer 24 August 2021 @ 13:15 24 Aug 2021 @ 13:15 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Alpaca Granted Last Minute Reprieve Until Tonight

Geronimo, the alpaca that tested positive twice for bovine tuberculosis and is set to be euthanised, has received a temporary reprieve ahead of a review.  This is so an application for a judicial review, including an application for a temporary injunction to halt the enforcement of the destruction order, can be considered at the High Court. A relief to all the Lobby hacks and Sun journalists who’ve spent silly season whipping up an alpaca-themed summer recess storm…

According to the alpaca’s solicitor, the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs “have agreed to extend their undertaking until 17:00 on Tuesday” – although a warrant for Geronimo’s destruction was nonetheless signed earlier this month. Geronimo’s owner, Helen Macdonald, has been refused permission by DEFRA to have him tested a third time, despite insisting that two previous tests returned false positives. Ms Macdonald’s lawyers have written to George Eustice arguing Geronimo’s life could be saved and he could be studied for research.

A Defra spokesman said:

“We are sympathetic to Ms Macdonald’s situation, just as we are with everyone with animals affected by this terrible disease. It is for this reason that the testing results and options for Geronimo have been very carefully considered by Defra (…) as well as passing several stages of thorough legal scrutiny.”

With Geronimo’s life still in the balance, has the might of the Lobby averted the alpaca-lypse?

mdi-timer 17 August 2021 @ 10:14 17 Aug 2021 @ 10:14 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Woke Government Quango No-Platforms Elected Mayor

A woke civil servant from the Environment Agency – a DEFRA quango – has attempted to “cancel” an elected English mayor for emphasising that poverty is as much a barrier to kids’ life chances as the colour of their skin. The power of faceless bureaucrats…

In response to the George Floyd protests last month, independent Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston told constituents via a post on Facebook:

“Black Lives Matter. And All Lives Matter

“The horrific incident that took place 4,000 miles away is raising tensions here. The way George Floyd died must never happen again…

“Don’t listen to careless talk in the media about white privilege… Deprivation here appears to be colour blind.

Preston also made the fairly non-controversial point: “The biggest barrier to progression in life in Middlesbrough, and almost anywhere, is always the same: poverty”.

This obviously angered the Government’s Environment Agency, who told the mayor “the recent viewpoints expressed by [him] in relation to the BLM movement and white privilege… do not reflect our own values and position on diversity”; formally no-platforming Preston:

Speaking to Guido, Mayor Preston was outraged, pointing to his decade-long fight for refugees and immigrants, and a subsequent post a couple of days later in which he clarified his intentions:

“I completely accept the pain that people are feeling and I want to re-state that I definitely accept the facts that black people and all people of colour face discrimination.

“Being white, I am fortunate that my skin colour has never held me back in life – but I am committed to continuing to listen to those who have suffered and do suffer discrimination”

Despite this, one month later Catherine Saxon – the Environment Agency’s North East Area Director – still told him his views on white privilege “do not reflect our own value and position on diversity” and therefore they could not be seen together. Preston is clearly well-meaning, yet the civil service are trying to cancel him for not being woke enough…

mdi-timer 14 July 2020 @ 14:33 14 Jul 2020 @ 14:33 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Sunday Times Journalist’s Inventive Track Record

The Sunday Times dominated the weekend’s debate thanks to their article, “38 Days When Britain Sleepwalked into Disaster. Aspects of the piece were subsequently torn apart, in particular the accusation that the PM “skipped” five COBRA meetings at the start of the crisis, with medical experts and the Department for Health putting out lengthy rebuttals of the article’s claim. Guido wasn’t surprised the article had holes in, not least because the Sunday Times’ Environment Editor, Jonathan Leake, was one of the authors. Leake’s stories are often full of holes…

One stark mistake in the article was claiming immunologist Peter Openshaw “would have recommended increasing the threat to high”, however Openshaw later tweetedI wasn’t there so can’t say if I would have dissented if I’d been there to hear the arguments”.

Leake has a string of journalist faux pas to his name, and is fondly remembered by a source at DEFRA for the following:

  • Accused Gove of ordering the “killing of sick squirrels and deer”, with DEFRA subsequently explaining it was completely untrue and he hadn’t approached them for comment
  • Asserted based purely on anecdotal evidence that “Pets, zoo animals and even Prince Charles’s cattle have been felled by the rampant disease [TB]” – something, again, the department explicitly said was completely untrue only to not have their statement included in the piece
  • Wrongly claimedFrench warship chases fishermen from scallop bay”, once again without asking the department who would have informed him the ships in question were 30 miles away from each other
  • Misled readers that “metered homes pay 60% more for water” by making inappropriate comparisons between metered and unmetered customers with different water companies

Leake has a promising future as a fiction writer …

mdi-timer 21 April 2020 @ 11:57 21 Apr 2020 @ 11:57 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
DEFRA Beefs Up Media Spin


Guido wishes popular Tory hunk Josh Grimstone a big congratulations on his promotion this morning to the role of Michael Gove’s media SpAd following the resignation of James Starkie last week. Starkie just could not stomach May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement and resigned on principle. No such problem for former Leave campaigner Josh’s washboard stomach.

Josh first joined DEFRA as a SpAd in July. Guido thinks the former CCHQ Head of Broadcast is a good fit, and sure to beef up Gove’s media presence. Josh is lucky to be promoted in DEFRA, after all his hot bod – as evidenced by his glamourous Instagram page – must be contributing quite a bit to global warming…

mdi-timer 26 November 2018 @ 10:40 26 Nov 2018 @ 10:40 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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