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Menopausal Mother Nature

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What a laugh!

It must be difficult going in front of a Parliamentary Committee to justify why you should get a job, but that is what the Chair-designate of Natural England has to do. And that’s what birder, fisherman, environmentalist and wildlife enthusiast Tony Juniper did very well yesterday. It’s difficult because you are talking to a small number of MPs and to the world at large, and to your potential staff and colleagues and stakeholders all at once.

And what a shambling event it was – as far as the MPs were concerned.

They didn’t look very smart – whereas Tony did. I just hope that he doesn’t believe everything he said in front of the committee!

Neil Parish clearly sees himself as the Jeremy Paxman of parliamentary committees – but he quite simply asks the wrong questions.

Tony J may or may not have contributed £50 to Caroline Lucas’s campaign to keep the Brighton Pavilion seat but thank heaven for Zac Goldsmith who pointed out (at 15:58) that Andrew Sells had donated £111,000 to the Conservative Party – to which Paxman Parish said ‘At least he remembered he had’.

There was some utterly ridiculous discussion about whether having a vegan breakfast was a party political act – when was the last time that a candidate was asked whether having their steak rare was the act of a fascist?

And Julian Sturdy asked some weak, rather than sturdy, questions about the uplands which were batted away to the boundary.

Mary Creagh is a bright, environmentally-savvy MP, Angela Smith almost made a joke, and Zac Goldsmith did make a joke. Apart from that the process was a joke really. But it’s good to know that Tony won’t shout out ‘Vote Green!’ or ‘Eat your greens!’ in the middle of any interview about net gain or how NE will save the Hen Harrier. I look forward to the day when members of the Efra Committee are quizzed by experts to assess whether they are fit to serve on it, and even more so when Defra ministers have to sit a written test to see whether they know either end of a badger from the other before getting their jobs.

Most politicians sincerely do their best – it’s just that many are given roles for which they are quite badly suited. That’s why they need people around them like Tony Juniper.

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