Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 25/04/05


I see they're at it again.

Our wonderful, independent, freedom-loving farmers look as if they're starting their tricks once more. This morning, they attempted what was laughingly called a 'blockade' of an oil refinery in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire (the same one as you can see in this photograph, incidentally), in a protest which was supposedly about fuel prices.

Some of you may recall that, in September 2000, the same mobile mob, along with their strange bedfellows the truckers, carried out a number of similar activities, which were allowed to bring a small degree of chaos to this land.

Well, having seemingly not been too arsed about fuel prices for four and a half years, they're trying it again. Of course, there's a small matter of an election campaign going on, so they must have deemed it ripe time to put the 4x4 round the back of the cowshed for safe keeping and drive their nearly-new tractors at 5 mph along the main road once more (not that they don't do that anyway, of course).

A few questions occur to me:

  1. Why are they so up-in-arms about the price of their fuel when their farm vehicles use so-called 'red' diesel, which suffers a very low rate of excise duty?
  2. Why, if their businesses are so close to failure (as they claim), can they seemingly afford to spend days away from their vital work to stand around threatening people outside petrol plants?
  3. Why, when protesting peacefully outside an arms fair can get you dragged into a court, faced with a tiny amount of hearsay evidence and malicious gossip from a policeman or a local petty official and be lumbered with an 'Anti-Social Behaviour Order' (ASBO) which means up to five years in prison if you dare to so much as blink within five miles of a dealer in weapons of slaughter; why, I ask, is there not likely to be any use of such orders against these 'protestors'?
  4. And why, when the farmers keep going on and on about how townies don't understand them and should keep out of their business, and are usually dead certs to vote for pro-unfettered-free-market canidates and parties, are they so keen on being subsidised to the nines?

    For the farmers who have the time and leisure to take part in these publicity stunts are, almost without exception, lowland dairy farmers who have been allowed to sponge off the taxpayer for sixty years. These subsidy junkies already have the best of it in many ways; now they want the rest of it too.

I, for one, am willing to cut a deal with the David Handleys and Brynle Williamses of this land: I'll stay off their land and stay out of their business on the condition that they keep their hands out of my pockets.