Goodbye Mrs Spelman

Here in Britain, the Cabinet is being reshuffled today. One of the Ministers losing their jobs is Caroline Spelman. She’s been Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) since May 2010. During her time there, a 29% cut to DEFRA’s budget was announced.

Mrs Spelman’s replacement at DEFRA will soon be announced. How much difference will that make? I’m not convinced that Ministers wield much real power, but we’ll see what happens. I don’t anticipate that the countryside will get much of the cut funding back.

About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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10 Responses to Goodbye Mrs Spelman

  1. lowerarchy says:

    She’s MP for Meriden – just up the road from here – and write an useless article for the local paper. did you see her son was banned from rugby for taking steroids recently?

    • argylesock says:

      No I didn’t see that. You can never trust anybody from the Midlands! (I grew up near Coventry.)

      • lowerarchy says:

        I used to live in Berkswell, but back in civilisation in Solihull now. However, if what you say is true, why should I believe you? 🙂

        • argylesock says:

          You shouldn’t. I was born in Stratford and I was a teenager in Coventry, so I’m a hybrid of William Shakespeare and Lady Godiva. This is not good.

          • lowerarchy says:

            I got my second MA from Cov uni, but am a hybrid Brummie and Sihillian 😦

            • argylesock says:

              Your *2nd* MA? Therein hangs a tale!

              • lowerarchy says:

                Ha – was bored and had a bit of compensation after a works injury. My first masters was English literary studies graduated 2007 and second was quite a mouthful (not dentistry :)) full title – International Organised Crime, International Terrorism, Gender and International Human Rights and Threats to Global Security which I finished last year. My plan was to learn to write and edit, then add some spice with crime and terrorism etc. So I’m an authority on Cosa Nostra and al Qaeda and published first novel last year.
                What are your degrees?

                • argylesock says:

                  BA Oxon 1988 in Pure and Applied Biology
                  MSc 1991 in Ecology
                  MSc 2006 in Bioscience (Infection and Immunity Specialism)
                  PhD 2011 in Veterinary Parasitology (Toxoplasma gondii in sheep)

                  Your degrees sound v interesting. Congratulations on your novel!

                  • lowerarchy says:

                    So do yours sister – chemistry and physics were my other big loves as a schoolkid, but our system doesn’t really work for all rounders. I still read lots of science for lay folk. My BA was combined hons in Contemporary Cultural Studies and Communications and English at University of Birmingham, grad 1987 then taught in FE for a bit, then did some business teaching. since then I’ve taught creative writing and creative thinking at local unis and set up my own courses.It can be frustrating though – most students don’t want to really engage with editing and some say inane things like, ‘I’m not really into proofreading!’
                    Generally writers can be a boring and pretentious bunch. Present company excluded of course 🙂
                    What are your impressions of the quality of post-grad students?

                    • argylesock says:

                      I’m glad you say ‘present company excluded’! But don’t you mean ‘excepted’? Anyway I’m open to constructive criticism as I learn how to write pop-sci. Nobody is paying me to do it yet, but I’d like it if that did happen at some point. I have an entry in for the Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize this year and it’s shit-hot writing (gotta believe in yourself, eh?) but I’m a little doubtful about the way it shows my lack of experience in time-sensitive journalism. The hand-in date was March 25th. I wrote a piece entitled ‘Food for Britain when in drought,’ then the Jet Stream moved south and messed up my claim that 2012 was a drought year comparable to 1976. I wrote about Caroline Spelman’s provisions for drainage improvements, then she lost her job at DEFRA. Oh well. Maybe my piece won’t end up in the Observer after all! But I still think it was good writing. The competition rules required me to sign over copyright to the Wellcome Trust, or I’d post it here on Science on the Land.

                      I like the sound of your teaching work. You probably know more than I do about student quality as I’ve only really started to teach during the last few years. I’ve noticed that medical students are great, very bright and keen and willing to put on the pinstripes as need be. I’ve also noticed that all students now take for granted that they can access everything on their Smartphones and Ipads. When I were a lass, we read books made of paper and we wrote on paper with pens. We worked no harder and no less hard than the current generation but we achieved less because there was no such thing as IT. The other thing I’ve noticed is the woeful lack of skills in Maths and English.

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