I am a great supporter of David Cameron. Don't always agree with him, but reckon he's a top man. Its necessary to start this post thus because I want to reflect on who would take over if the position were to become vacant. My first choice would be William Hague. Can't think of any competition where I wouldn't vote for William if he were a candidate. But my guess is he wouldn't do it. And anyway, he's needed to continue his brilliant work at the Foreign Office. My second choice is a tougher call. But not if George Osborne cuts off the supply of taxpayer's millions to the subsidy junkies who build and run onshore wind farms. If George cuts off this money tap, he'd be a shoe-in for the top job.
Now to the real point of this post. The Rt. Hon. Owen Paterson, Sec of State at Defra, who is the subject of a major article by Ben Brogan and Robert Winnett in today's Telegraph. Owen is my neighbouring MP, representing North Shropshire. With him, you do get what you see. On the face of it, he doesn't do subtle, but yet, he managed to glide effortlessly through the political jungle that is Northern Ireland politics. The thing is, I agree with Owen Paterson on almost everything. We are both countrymen, and we both love wild creatures - in a pragmatic rather than a bunny-hugging way. We both love deer, foxes and badgers, but accept appropriate culling for the wider benefit of the countryside. A few other things as well.
There are two particularly big areas of agreement that dominate opinion in our constituencies. Firstly, there is the vexed matter of onshore wind farms and associated infrastructure. I suspect Owen shares my view that we should set out to reduce carbon emissions where its reasonable to do so. But not by destroying British industry, or impoverishing lower paid energy users, or forcing elderly people to freeze in their homes, or desecrating some of the most beautiful parts of Britain, or trampling all over local opinion, making a mockery of democracy. I go further - suspecting that some alien brain-manipulating force taken a grip on an entire Gov't Dep't (DECC), infecting it with a form of turbine madness. I desperately hope that new Energy Minister, John Hayes dosed himself with prophylactic medication before setting foot in the office. And then there's shale gas, which could well completely change the energy picture within two years. It would be economic lunancy to turn our backs on it.
The second big area is Europe - where I'm not sure that I am quite the same page as Owen. I am a Eurosceptic who has never committed to an IN/Out referendum - even though I concede that the logical conclusion of my approach may be withdrawal in the end. We will have to develop a new relationship with the EU, as the EU moves towards creating a single state, the inevitable consequence of the reckless decision to create the Euro. The people of Britain will not want to be a part of this new state, and there will inevitably be some redrawing of the relationship between the UK and the EU, which will probably be put to the people in a vote. The issue will be whether the EU Leviathan, so used to swallowing up everything in its path, will contemplate anything but British capitulation, or will it drive on regardless to its inevitable destruction, leaving Britain behind. Bit like staying in Southampton or Cork when the Titanic sailed.
But there is one area where I do not agree with Owen Paterson. He might be prime ministerial material, but its not on to call Alan Titchmarsh uncomplimentary names. For most of my gardening life, he's been an inspiration, and I cannot think of this great man as a 'muppet.