David Cameron was right about one thing
He warned about the threat to our food security over a decade ago
If David Cameron is mentioned at all these days, it’s unlikely to be for his foresight — certainly not since calling the Brexit referendum that ended his premiership
But there’s one danger he did foresee — the threat to our food security. The evidence is in a speech he gave to the National Farmers Union back in 2008, when he was still Leader of the Opposition:
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Remarkably, he took aim at the neoliberal assumption that global markets will always provide:
We can’t take abundant food supplies for granted, he warned. Factors like soaring global demand for meat (produced from grain-fed livestock), the impact of climate change and the use of land for biofuel crops could cause global shortages.
Admittedly he didn’t say anything about pandemics — or, at least, not those of human diseases (he mentioned a number of animal diseases).
But the point is that even if other countries are capable of producing enough food to supply our needs as well as theirs, we can’t just assume uninterrupted global free trade to get that food here.
If — or, rather, when — serious disruption occurs, you can be sure that food-producing nations will see to their own needs first, followed by those of their immediate neighbours.
Do we really want to be at the back of the queue for food?
What, by the way, did David Cameron do about all of this as Prime Minister? In his NFU speech he said that UK self sufficiency in food had declined from 72% in 1996 to 60% in 2008. By the time he left office, we were still importing about two-fifths of what we consume.
You spin that as making no difference or as halting the decline. Either way, there’s no doubting the significance of what we still produce.
It was mere luck that the level of imports stayed the same. If he was convinced by his own argument then he would have taken action when he was PM
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