No need for hand-warmers this morning, despite forecasts of frost it was relatively warm as we release the hens. As they scuttle out I often wonder what it is they are so eager to get on with. Albert suggests that they need a copy of the Sun to uplift their spirits but having seen the lethargy of the local council workers, for whom a rolled-up copy seems mandatory, I rather doubt it. Maybe they spend their time being thankful for not living as their battery-sisters do, they after all don’t have four visits per day from old geezers bearing a constant supply of lettuces, boiled spuds and spinach leaves. And they have freedom to wander amongst the trees and, if the mood takes them, to fly up into them.
Come to think about it trees play an important part in all our lives. Of course they play a key role in offsetting the effect of carbon emissions, but they also provide us with places of beauty and solace for the soul. Perhaps we should make the best of them for their massacre at the hands of money-grabbing developers is about to accelerate thanks to the bizaare plan of the coalition to sell off the Forestry Commission which owns 20 per cent of all the woods and forests in Britain.
On January 6th I revealed the campaign being run by ’38 Degrees’. Since then thousands have signed up on-line to register their opposition to this wanton destruction. Today one hundred top celebrities have added their names to the fight. The names include Judi Dench, Dr Rowan Williams, Annie Lennox, Joanna Trollope, Bill Bryson, Richard Briers and a host of others. All their signatures appear at the foot of a letter published in this morning’s papers.
It states “We, who love and use the English forests, believe that such a sale would be misjudged and shortsighted. It is our national heritage. We are an island nation yet more people escape to the forests than to the seaside. Our forests nurture countless species of native plants and wildlife. We have relied upon them since time immemorial yet we are only a heartbeat in their history.”
Last week saw the publication of a poll on the proposal. Over 75 per cent are totally opposed to the government’s plan. People from all walks of life are angry and bemused. Some visit the forests regularly and there have been mass protests in such as The Forest of Dean. Some remember with affection the visits they once made as a child and many others still take their children to enjoy the wonder of nature at its best. If Cameron rides roughshod over the view of the vast majority of Brits he will be making a lot of enemies, for once the sale is made there is no going back, the bulldozers will be revving their engines.
The most amazing aspect of all this is that even the most favourable sale is only expected to raise £100 million. Compare that to the £15 billion we are happy to plough into the Olympics or the £130 billion that is lost to the exchequer each year via tax avoidance. The truth is that money is not the motivation, it is ideology, the obsessive right-wing belief that everything must be privately owned even if that leads to its destruction.
If you too feel that the forests that belong to us all, and are part of what Britain is, should be left alone for future generations to treasure why not go on to the ’38 Degrees’ website and sign the petition. Politicians will only listen if they feel that their votes are at risk so numbers count!
OSBORNE ACCUSED OF TAX DODGING!
Channel 4 has claimed to have evidence that George Osborne is avoiding the payment of tax. It says that he employs accountants to find loopholes which help him avoid payments of up to £1.6 million. The pressure group ’38 Degrees’ is running an online petition demanding that he end this practice and, so great has been the response, it is running an advertisng campaign portraying the Chancellor as ‘the artful Dodger’.
Like you I have no idea as to the truth of these accusations but it seems unlikely that broadcasts and public campaigns would have been launched without firm evidence. And I have heard no refutals by Mr Osborne.
The government has been reluctant to tackle tax avoidance which is believed to account for losses far in excess of the total value of the cuts now hitting many poorer families. Why? Perhaps this story gives us a clue! Can it possibly be that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is using tax avoidance?
If so it might be prudent for the millionaires running this country to stop banging on about us all being in this together!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; “If we tread on a mine, Sir, what is the procedure? Normal procedure Lieutenant, is to jump 200 feet in the air and scatter oneself over a wide area”…..Captain Blackadder “The best defence against the atom bomb is not to be there when it goes off”…Winston Churchill “War doesn’t determine who’s right – only who’s left”….Bertrand Russell “We are not retreating; we are advancing in another direction”….General Douglas MacArthur “They still haven’t found Osama Bin Laden. Why don’t they give his name to the Child Support Agency, they’ll find him”….Roy Chubby Brown ” Peace is when nobody’s shooting. A ‘just peace’ is when your side gets what it wants”……Bill Mauldin “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last”……Winston Churchill.
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Andrei Sakharov 2. Richard Nixon
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Who refused to play South Africa in a Davis Cup Final? 2. Which orchestra did Sir George Solti once conduct in London?