It is good to see the cattle finally turned out on lush pastures, enjoying the spring sunshine on their backs, and with the scent of bluebells and wild garlic wafting in through the windows, it definitely feels good to be alive.
Now that the dark thunder clouds of impending political chaos have drifted away, there is a sense of optimism in the air. There is a renewed confidence within the community that the country is once again reassuringly in safe hands.
Wivelsfield Parish Church received a visit from Mark, Bishop of Horsham, he came to support the Revd. Christopher Breeds for the Rogation Sunday service, and to bless the newly refurbished Church Hall.
The Bishop blessed the crops, and we all asked God to protect them from storm and blight, and prayed for a prosperous harvest.
He blessed the workers, and we thanked God for the knowledge he has given us to work our farms and protect the countryside.
He then blessed the beasts and the cattle, and we thanked God who has entrusted us to preserve them from disease and keep them in good condition and care for them. I suspect the Bishop, the vicar and the congregation were visualising a beautiful and tranquil scene with fields full of sheep with lambs gambling in the sunshine, and cattle peacefully grazing the lush pastures.
I on the other hand recalled the horrors of last week when a herd of beautiful white Charolaise cattle, belonging to one of my neighbours were brutally slaughtered while they grazed peacefully, under the direction of DEFRA.
The cattle belonged to an elderly farmer who suffered increasingly from dementia, which caused him to forget to register their births and apply for movement passports.
Cattle do not require passports until they are to be moved off a farm, and these healthy cattle would in due course have travelled directly to the slaughter house. Tragically the jobsworth at DEFRA decided they had to be destroyed on the farm where they had been born and bred, just because they had no passport.
Under the direction of some desk jockey from DEFRA they were picked off by a marksman one by one, until twenty five corpses lay scattered across the Downs in the spring sunshine.
If Bishop Mark and the congregation standing in the peace of the church yard had witnessed this outrage, they would have been appalled, and perhaps his prayers would have included a wish that God would instil some common sense into Westminster’s civil servants.
This was the work of the bureaucrats and their dogged red tape which I repeatedly bang on about. Instead of reaching a practical and workable solution to this petty oversight and lack of passports for these healthy cattle, and the farmer who should have been supported and helped in his declining years, they were punished by the very Government department whose role it is to support the farming community.
Mr Cameron is no longer restrained by a coalition, he must now honour his previous commitment to reduce red tape and bureaucracy. He can no longer hide behind the excuse that he is restrained by the coalition.
Back in 1950, Churchill put food and farming as one of his key issues. Rural issues had scant attention from the parties in this election campaign. The Conservatives at least acknowledged the need for farming’s economic success, but much of the manifesto were words of urban man, with no passion for rural life.
The result of last weeks’ elections has certainly restored my faith in the British public, who so often can be relied upon to do what is right for the nation.
The successful candidates should be congratulated for they have all worked tirelessly. The campaign was one of the longest and most gruelling I can remember, and there have been some interesting casualties
Most notably locally was Lewes. The seat had been held by the Liberal Democrat Norman Baker for the past eighteen years; he had taken it from Tim Rathbone, David Cameron’s Godfather, in 1997, and has doggedly held on to this previously safe conservative seat ever since.
On this occasion he was challenged by the indomitable Maria Caulfield, the perfect candidate in every way. Maria is a nurse specialising in breast cancer, at the Royal Marsden Hospital. She had previously worked at both the Royal Sussex and Princess Royal hospitals in Sussex.
Maria will make an excellent MP who will truly represent all her constituents. She brings with her the invaluable experience of working in the NHS, and I hope that she and many other new MPs will not be tempted to give up their current employment entirely.
It is all too easy to be sucked into the Westminster village where one becomes isolated from the ‘real world’. It is a nonsense to suggest MPs cannot do their job properly if they have a ‘second’ job. In reality by keeping an outside interest, they will be far better MPs, and more useful as true representatives of ‘the people’.
The Prime Minister has a head start as other parties regroup and choose new leaders. Let us hope he will hit the ground running and take the opportunity to implement the reforms the Lib Dems refused to support in the last parliament.
Carola Godman Irvine