This piece is 8 years old, but a couple of people asked me for a copy recently; so I dug it out and on re-reading thought it worthwhile putting up again here. It brought back to me what a great day myself and Jo (the photographer) had at Kite’s Nest, in the company of the Youngs and other animals…
In intensive livestock farming, animals are too often viewed simply as units of production to be ground relentlessly through the system. As Robin Maynard found, nothing could be more different than at Kite’s Nest in the Cotswolds, where the farm animals are actively engaged in deciding how the farm is managed.
Hmm, rather a predictable bunch that meet typically narrow media stereotypes – not one real grassroots campaigner amongst them. Where are any of the non-NGO, non-celeb, non-commercial, non-luvvy & lunch-friendly, local activists who forced the Government into its first, major policy U-turn i.e. halting the sell-off our public forests? THE major conservation campaign victory of the past 20 years! Shame on you, Observer – should have been at least one short-listed nominee from Save Our Woods, Hands Off Our Forest! or any of the many small, local community groups that came out in defence of their patch of England’s public woods & forests!
This will not be the first nor last time that Education Secretary, Michael Gove has been compared to the fact-obsessed schoolmaster, Mr Gradgrind of Charles Dickens’ novel, ‘Hard Times’ (with its pertinent parallels to our present economic woes and government austerity programmes)[i]. Gradgrind opens the novel declaiming, “Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts. Nothing else will ever be of service to them … Stick to Facts, sir!” Gove laid himself open to such a parody in his recent speech at a conference organised by the Spectator magazine[ii], where he stated that English school children were being held back and disadvantaged in comparison to their peers in the Asian ‘Tiger economies’ of China, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea due to our shorter school days and longer holidays.