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#Nature …..better blood on your hands than the waters of Pilate . GG

All responsible social commentators or political activists should healthy maintain a sense of proportion and self awareness ,using criticism to both provide balance to their views and to avoid becoming completely detached from reality.

Ironically #George Monbiot who has come to represent a singular voice for common-sense , science and addressing the environmental issues of our day with unequivocal commitment and reason is now being abused even as  an escapist and fascist.

To-days Guardian  article by #Monbiot …..”Since when did a love of nature make one bourgeois?” (1) strikes at the heart of matters that are fundamental to understanding the conflicted behaviour of our world in relation to Nature and the “separation” described previously by the psychoanalyst  Sally Weintrobe in her recent published collective work (2)where denial is understood, in one of it’s disguises, as an inability to see ourselves as a integral component of #Nature . 

Karl Marx a hundred years previously described mankind’s inability to reconcile the sense of separation from Nature as an attribute of Alienation with a specific political connotation.

It might  be  appropriate at this point to reclaim the expression “alienation” in isolation from Marxist associations  to describe the characteristics discussed by Monbiot when he effectively asks  why his ..” love for diversity and the richness of nature as an aesthetic and cultural impulse ”  ?is not given equivalence in attributed value as other cultural elements

Jumping back to #Weintrobe , and cognisant of Tony Junipers works on Nature as capital and the need to economically embrace the environment as fundamental to our survival, the explanation for our predisposition  of wanton indifference is  either ignorance or an alienation that inhibits our pleasure and respect  for the bountifulness of Nature and our generous environment.

Our alienated behaviour it is suggested may be a psychological denial to avoid uncomfortable and inconvenient truths or a defensive psychological barrier to allow time for us to adjust to the reality that is perceived as uncomfortable and considered as an overwhelming threat.

I have chosen to sidestep those corporate forces that act only in their narrow commercial self interest as too obvious and dull to be worthy of even  more than a brief mention in order to concentrate on the Monbiot thesis that distinguishes it from much other topical writing when he unashamedly celebrates his personal joy and the pleasure of Nature in its might and magnitude with lyricism. 

Returning to my purpose , George Monbiot  unashamedly standing against  fascistic critics and declaring in terms of “love for Nature ” should inspire others to raise their voices and be as eloquently voluble in remonstrating against the alienated arrogance of those who believe they can  ignore Nature and our own intrinsic relationship which must be brought back into balance,  not with name calling but by his own example of reasoned  adoration and pleasure in our environment.

Graham Greene spoke of  the need to stand up for an opinion and not to wash ones hands of addressing the issues that confront both society and individuals .

George Monbiot’s demonstration of committed, joyful celebration of Nature trumps all name calling.

Asthall Leigh.

July 9th 2013

(1) Sally Weintrobe: Editor  Engaging with Climate Change New Library of Psychoanalysis. Routledge ISBN 978-0-415-66762-3

(2) George Monbiot : Guardian Article 09/07/13

(3) Toy Jupiter: What Has Nature ever done for us? Profile Books ISBN 978 1 84668560 6





Paterson ‘s Ambition #Badger Cull

Owen Paterson has carried the latest #Badger Cull debate in the House of Commons and will proceed to instruct the #NFU licensed marksmen to undertake a controversial slaughter of significant numbers of badgers in two trial areas.

The campaign and debate have been rigorous an applied scientifically in the main by the opponents of the #cull setting themselves against an entrenched and dogmatic Minister.

Researching behind the scenes has repeatedly exposed the matrix of links and associations between government,agriculture,hunting and the predictable vested traditional interest groups all reinforcing each others perspective to the exclusion of any scientific or inconvenient truth.

Despite the vigorous public opposition of a passionate and well organised anti cull lobby Government , as embodied by Owen Paterson , never altered its position even in the face of concerted political pressure and scientific reason.

That inflexibility and general indifference to anyone other than vested interest groups that support the government almost as a reflex and badge of identity , may yet come to haunt this Government in the long-term.

It is important that I accept I might be proved wrong by events but if that is the case I based all my argument on the best scientific opinion available to the general public and never once avoided facts or information that emerged in several months of campaigning to stop the cull.

I can find no coherent scientific support for the Paterson/Defra postion that sustains careful examination.

If argument supported by best evidence and reason cannot prevail what hope is there for the democratic process.

British parliamentary history is riddled with inflexible political strategies that came off the rails , sadly on this occasion it will be at the expense of a summarily executed badger population  unless someone intervenes.

I have other issues that must take priority in terms of my own immediate activity but I fear that others deeply upset by Owen Patterson and the NFU may find themselves now utterly frustrated by the democratic process and recourse to direct action .

The course of this activity will be determined by how rigid the #Cull is applied but expect to see television images parallel to those of the last miners strike if sides become entrenched.

How can we as a society either afford the cost of maintaining a police presence  or the consequences of the social and political division that will result?

Why did David Cameron allow this situation to develop and Owen Paterson  to lead policy  taking  control of the Conservative party ?

All these matters will unwind in the coming months and there may yet be a few unexpected twists and turns but science and common-sense are damaged ….we shall have to wait to see to what extent and if matters can be repaired.

For Badgers: hopefully they can be protected by those dedicated campaigners who will maintain a vigil.


Asthall Leigh.

June 5th 2013

A sad reflection on Government….

Theoretically today marks the beginning of the bTB Badger #cull “trials” despite months of fierce and passionate campaigning by those of us opposed to such an ill conceived policy.

I have always taken the position that The Government have ignored the best independent scientific opinion and pursued an approach that will in time prove costly and flawed.

I am aware there are many opponents marching against the cull today in London that farmers would describe dismissively as taking a soft position that fails to understand the commercially devastating consequences of bovine TB  but that view fails to acknowledge the hard nosed science and best research opinion  arraigned  against the NFU and it’s supporters.

The science says the cull will be ineffective and that is a considered and substantiated opinion of those who have conducted two decades of thorough and rigorous study.

Farmers and Defra mutter to themselves in superior tones that the opposition is “woolly” and has failed to understand the problem; comforting themselves by repeating the received wisdom that has done the rounds for years and believing that makes them beyond reproach.

Sadly their, view which may prevail in the short run, has no foundation in science unless our scholarly scientists have misrepresented the facts.

If bigotry prevails  over science, Owen Paterson and the government he represents will have perpetrated a grave misrepresentation and breeched irrevocably public trust in the farming sector.

Suffice to say the following weeks may see conflict and confrontation and one can only hope the worst excesses of entrenched positions do not materialise . If regrettably division and frustration are the winners, we are all losers .

As a constituent of the Prime Minister I would not be able to vote for an administration that ignores logic and is hell-bent on the unnecessary destruction of wildlife.

Defra, NFU and Owen Paterson ……you may have gained a pyrrhic victory but history will find you out.

Steve Tomlin

Asthall Leigh June 1st 2013

The Revolution will not be Televised

Why so long since the last blog ?

I have been thinking ………and can see no pathway through the current malaise on climate change or any sign of conviction to pay more than lip service to addressing the problem by political leaders.

Today R4’s #Today Programme  announced that “officially” we have arrived at the much predicted  400 parts per million threshold of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

If not sanguine there is a resignation about this event that reminds this sixties child of Gil Scot-Heron’s#The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

Not it’s literal detail but the sentiment that our politicians are sitting on their hands praying the inevitable consequence of their own inaction will not rebound or ever happen if they continue to look away.

Gil Scot-Heron song  exemplifies the condition that completely fails to understand reality.

More frighteningly he identifies the paralysed inaction of confused , deluded and unimaginative individuals who have come to expect the political reality to exist in a stable state  without taking any responsibility for it’s process or soul.

We are in fact as a society #watching and waiting in terms of the climate debate and not demanding action to alter the consequences of our behaviour. This fatalism , and it must be stressed it is our own inaction, cannot be a transferred responsibility to others .

The “revolution” is not to be televised….there will be no re-runs ….the revolution will be Live” to remember Heron’s words.

Months ago I reported the 400 parts per million threshold breached and have spoken of “passing the fulcrum of no return“, but nothing changes dramatically enough to be significant to alter the course of our own destruction.

I have struggled to write in recent weeks for fear of simply providing more verbiage that alters nothing and out of an academic egotism that I will marginalise my own work by being too extreme and over-stated.

I know that beating people over the head with information often alienates more than it improves but at what point do we recognise the fate of the  planet and the threat to our very daily existence before we change our lifestyles.

It is no longer theoretical we are now in a terminal behaviour pattern and must act.

Television will not mitigate the problem …you cannot “stay home turn on and cop out“… “it will put you in the drivers seat” ……

to quote 1970’s Small Talk … The revolution effects you !!

Steve tomlin Sustainability

Asthall Leigh

May 11th 2013


Baffling Brains…. End # Recycling ,before it is too late !

George Monbiot’s Guardian article (1) challenging consumption and calling for a fundamental reappraisal of our attitudes to recycling struck a note of  encouragement in a sea of misunderstanding.

For more than a decade a small group of colleagues have invoked a plague of wrath upon the houses of recycling champions, sometimes resorting to overstatement to attract attention.

I have often commenced conference speeches with a clarion call to end recycling simply to gather attention to what has become  the greatest political environmental self-deception of our age.

Conspiracy theorists will be disappointed when I stress the problem is not always deliberate or an act of wilful political denial or even intentional  deception but, unquestionably the often sincerely advanced belief that we as a society are  being virtuous in our determined pursuit of recycling as an alternative to throwing away materials, however, it  is a nonsense.

It seems counter intuitive to dramatically suggest we desist recovering materials through the re-cycling processes,abandoning what seems to be a sensible approach to addressing the problem of needing to divert materials from landfill and save resources ,but we delude ourselves.

The problem revolves around the failure to recover the #embedded carbon value within materials for disposal.

Recycling is the lowest common denominator solution and is belatedly now being described by people appreciating the problem as “down-cycling” .

This failure by our political; leaders to understand that far from being virtuous we are actually failing to address the real problems of consumption and embedded carbon recovery constitutes a major obstacle to reducing the problem of #material resource efficiency and in turn climate change.

Whilst the European Union has endeavoured to invert the waste pyramid hierarchy, placing reduction of consumption, reuse and reclamation (up-cycling) above recycling (down cycling), in Britain we have pursued straight line recycling with a total commitment and bathed ourselves in self-congratulation as we achieve ever higher recycling levels but, fundamentally fail to radically change anything in reality other than nominally reduce landfill pressure.

Sadly never understanding how disastrously our energies are misplaced and contradictory to intent.

Without distracting from my main thesis the latest shocking revelations  of “Exported re-cyclates for incineration in the Far East” are an even more disastrous betrayal of the general public who diligently sort their tins,packaging and glass products believing they are being diverted from landfill for recovery.

This misrepresentation by local authorities is not only a deceit but threatens to undermine the remarkable public subscription to positively changing  behaviour patterns witnessed in recent years ; not to mention a wretched abuse of valuable resources that we desperately need to recover rather than constantly  buy costly replacement virgin raw materials .

The core problem remains political illiteracy when it comes to material resource efficiency. Most politicians glow at the mention of successful recycling programmes, never suspecting they are delivering a lowest common denominator solution that misses the real objective.

Energy from incineration,landfill diversion and a happy public enjoying participating in environmental projects held to be virtuous are all ingredients for politicians to glow with pride and not ask too many questions about the reality of down-recycling.

It is imperative we design for end of life re-use, manufacture durable multi purpose products that are easily serviceable and minimise packaging. Issues of imaginative standardisation and interchangeability need serious investigation .

George Monbiot also points out the conceit of maintaining consumption beyond proportionality to our needs and the failure to want to fundamentally address life style excess .

Throw-away and down-cycling are obsolete options in our finite world that continues to consume at a rate equivalent to a planet three times the capacity of Earth’s resources.

This denial of reality and failure to accept responsibility for our excesses is deeply ingrained in our materialistic psyche and obsessive self-interest  .

The issue of pursuing recycling without deeper critical evaluation is at best an intellectual bankruptcy of our political leadership or at worst it’s a sinister and cynical deliberate manipulation of the factual basis of resource recovery by vested interests who are indifferent to the needs of the global environment and science.


Asthall Leigh April 17th 2013

(1) G.Monbiot/Guardian article

Let there be division where there is harmony …… #Miners and Badgers

Recently I expressed concern the proposed  #Badgercull and bTB debate was in danger of becoming viciously acrimonious and suggested that Owen Patterson was a protagonist of unfettered free-market policies which might herald a transformation of the fundamental nature of the rural landscape. With the prescience of fortune I reflected how Harold Macmillan was drawn to challenge #Margaret Thatchers government of the day to withdraw the emotive slur that the miners were the “Enemy Within” in the interest of avoiding further division at a time of heightened social and political confrontation.

Whilst holding no brief for the late Mrs Thatcher , I recoil at some of the anger fuelled and venomous comments that are flying about in the immediate aftermath of her death.

I opposed her in office unequivocally and can never forgive her for the manner in which she altered much that I held to be important in the established fabric of Britain.

 I carefully say “altered” when many would say destroyed and vilified because I sincerely believe much of the power politicians like Margaret Thatcher wield is derived from the re-action they provoke and they are best diminished by understatement.

Geoffrey Howe dismantled Thatcher in the House of Commons with a resignation speech that was “quietly lethal” and “calmly delivered spite” as revenge for the bullying his leader administered to the moderate long suffering Howe.

Thatcher celebrated confrontation and given all the power of the British Prime Minister she was more than equal to her equals.(1) Out of confrontation she fashioned a celebrity by justifying all situations referenced to her own will and strength to resist regardless of subject or substance. 

As we inevitably undergo saturation coverage of her political legacy it offers an important lesson for those campaigning against governments of the day .

Arthur Scargill tried to take Thatcher and McGregor her champion head on with virulent and uncompromising rhetoric that merely gave the queen of confrontation the easy option to play the need for law and order card , marginalising Scargill as extremist and unreasonable.

Kim Howells (South Wales, NUM) and Mick McGaghey (Scottish Mineworkers Union) both privately counselled a more flexible approach and I recall a late night meeting in Blackpool  during the 1980’s strike ,with the Scot heavily imbibed, excoriating Scargill in private for only knowing  confrontation whilst miners starved.

This was never reported.

The relevance, turning back to the impending badger cull, is the anger for those of us opposing this unscientific policy,  should be carefully directed and not through frustration be permitted to degenerate away from our considered and science based position.

In recent weeks there is evidence of increasingly angry exchanges between elements on both sides of the debate. I believe some of this confrontation is deflecting from the need to carry the farming community with us and to make the case  we all need to contribute to a soundly scientific approach, that will develop best practice for removing this dreadful disease from the national herd.

 There are no winners if the outcome is a slaughter that leaves the problem unresolved and a resentment and bitterness that will not be easily healed  in the aftermath.

Macmillan pleaded for  patience and the fortitude to work together at all costs to avoid social and political division that would wreak havoc.

Thatcher would have called for her opponents to “bring it on” which  the wisdom of the elder statesman understood achieved only contempt and a memory harbouring bitterness.


Asthall Leigh .April 09 2013

(1) adapted from the  Greek: Primus inter pares First amongst equals or peers.

Anthony Sampson  :Anatomy of Britain described the Prime minster as “First Amongst Equals …with the power of a dictator ” as I recall 

Deep Divisions in British Society over #Badger Cull

Michael Heseltine’s intervention(1) in the financial crisis to-day expressing concern the UK  lacks the will and resolution to achieve economic change because Britain suffers  from affluence complacency, reminded me of the late Harold MacMillan’s (2)intervention at the height of Thatcherism .

Macmillan expressing shock that miners should be regarded as the Enemy Within, which might be even more relevant on the eve of what I believe will be a catastrophically divisive policy decision by #Owen Paterson to go ahead with the #badger cull. 

Hesseltine’s reknown quality has always been to grab headlines and be glamorously correct after the event.

MacMillian’s comments came as a  reflection of deep concern by a former Prime Minister(1957-1963) and a very senior statesman who saw Britain being driven apart in the  Miners strike (1984-85) by a government he perceived to have abandoned traditional core values of  One Nation Conservatism .

He was concerned that Margaret Thatcher and the leadership of the Conservative party had divorced itself from orthodox consensus to the detriment of the broader nation in the eyes of the Etonian patrician, who once extolled  “Britain had never had it so good” whilst Heseltine seems to imply “we have it too good for our own good!” .

I am drawn to make the association between MacMillan’s concern for the nation being torn apart those years ago and the present conflict  between the two sides of the #Bovine Tuberculosis  debate because matters have reached a critical and deeply impassioned moment  and before events become too heated to retrieve what will be a  tragic situation potentially leaving  our nation  divided and unable to turn back.

The #cull is scheduled for July 2013 despite the scientific weight of opinion indicating that it will be ineffective or only marginal in its attempt to reduce infection within the national dairy herd.

Rather than address the detailed scientific issues again, despite previously vigorously  campaigning against the cull, I am concerned now to address the social  consequences  if the government and specifically Owen Paterson persist with their  expressed intentions .

The consequence of headlines and news broadcasts describing the destruction of up-to 10,000 badgers will unleash a resentment and anger that will leave the already estranged farming community even further isolated  and their opponents furious and in a hostile frame of mind that will not recover or go away quickly..

All farmers will inevitably suffer from this anger and will be characterised collectively as indifferent and self-interested regardless of their individual dispositions.

If as is suspected the Badger cull is a distraction from deficiencies of  forthcoming  government policy proposals the farmers may find themselves without public support when they most need it in the not too distant future.

The public ,whilst still purchasing from the big supermarket chains, have in recent years understood the pressure adversely exerted upon  farmers in their efforts to supply quality home-grown goods for a commercially viable return.

That sympathy may well evaporate.

 Paterson is a free-marketeer and will eventually remove subsidies that protect small farms.

Who then will farmers have to stand up for them ? …certainly not the ground of Middle England they are choosing to alienate by killing Badgers..

I draw the association with Macmillan’s concern for a divided nation from my own memories of the 1984-85 Miners Strike that decimated the traditional mining communities and left them utterly bereft of hope  for many years.

During the strike  living in an affluent , albeit radical Cotswold community, in the Stroud Valleys we provided support and sustenance to the Cwm , Ebbw Vale, Marine Colliery miners and families in South Wales for almost 2 years and came to know their stories and lives as friends.

Coming and going with community arts entertainment and welfare support programmes I witnessed how embedded a  hatred of an insensitive London based government  could get when matters became  so polarised.

People almost starved and were desperately  proud to support their own families and communities whilst the NUM national leadership and government fought from rigid positions on both sides.

Following the eventual return to work behind their banners and colliery bands they enjoyed a brief respite before they discovered too late the industry was in terminal decline velocity and the “valleys” were spent and destroyed……. if never defeated.

The residual anger was tangible and still haunts many communities to this day.

You cannot repair such anger in a single generation.

Given our nations current economic and environmental difficulties our society can barely afford further, let alone deep divisions, if a common objectives and united political will are fragmented by bitter rows over bTB.

Heseltine is right to point out the need to be unified and purposeful but there is a further historic connection of fate that befalls  the farmers and  former miners …..

The miners were led by a powerful and rigid leadership that enjoyed class confrontation before a negotiated arrangement.

The NFU like the NUM of the day is leading its membership with a closed mind, preferring to posture rather than understanding the longer game or the virtues of flexibility and gentle persuasion .

The NFU leadership is intransigent and committed to oppose scientific opinion and public concern.

Ten thousand carcasses are not going to change the fate of the farming community positively and someone has to intervene to call for a better approach that will carry the general public and protect the long-term fortunes of agriculture or Macmillan’s ghost may reappear and farmers like miners may become an insignificant sector spoken of in the past tense.

Stevetomlinsustainability .

Asthall Leigh

(1)March 25th 2013

Macmillian (2) Viscount Ovenden, Earl Stockton 1894-1986  IN November 1984 He criticised Margaret Thatcher for treating the “brave men who helped defeat the Kaiser and Hitler… the Enemy Within” 

(2a) ” We used to have battles and rows  but they were quarrels and we got over them”