Wednesday’s Western Daily Press furnishes a classic example. Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy was reported as initiating a debate at Westminster on the protection of high-grade farmland. She castigated the Government for the way in which this key issue falls through the gap between two departments, is not a priority for either, and yet is of vital importance to “food security, food sovereignty and the UK’s declining self-sufficiency in food”. She went on to say that in 2011 DEFRA reported a huge loss of the best land to development over recent years, “although we do not really know the extent, as such data are not collected systematically”.
News this is not. We’ve been saying it all for years. And years. And years. But it's an issue rarely on the political radar. When it does appear, it's often hiding behind more fashionable ideas like 'urban food growing', the subject of the debate in which Ms McCarthy spoke. Yes, allotments and gardens matter, but being hobby peasants won't keep us all fed: we need serious farming too. The fact that MPs are debating the protection of allotments but are continuing to sidestep the bigger picture is an indication of how little they understand or care what goes on outside the big cities.
Kerry McCarthy’s party is Labour. Her party did not in government, and does not in opposition, have any policy to curb population growth. It’s even keener than the Conservatives – if that’s possible – to concrete over southern England in pursuit of astronomically high housing targets. If you want homes for ever more millions Kerry, and you rightly won’t sacrifice our farmland to do it, please tell us, where will you put them?