I listened to a decent man on the Today programme this morning exhibiting qualities for which the English are noted: calmly discussing the devastation that is opening up before him, anguishing for his tenant whose herd is apparently the second to be found to be infected and who, he says, with conviction and evident distress for his fellow man, is utterly devastated by this turn of events. Laurence Matthews was also very buttoned up, but his anger was there for all to detect.

He made two serious points, the first about lack of information from DEFRA: a look at the DEFRA website reveals that, whilst there is a basic level of information, the sense one has of it is a Ministry desperately clinging to a culture of secretive ways ingrained over decades of keeping the British people in the dark as to what is done in their name.

The second point he made was one about the failure to close ALL footpaths and public rights of way within the immediate area of East Wyke which has been designated a “Protection Zone” (for the map of the zone see DEFRA’s PDF here). Now to me, one of the very first things that ought to be done in circumstances such as these, one of the things which ought to be on the main checklist of the DEFRA officials whose duty it is to ensure as far as possible that this disease does not spread, is to close the footpaths. Closing them is, surely, a ‘no brainer’.

Yet evidently this has yet to be done. This frankly beggars belief. No wonder Mr. Matthews sounded on the cusp of tears as he spoke of his anger that this had not been done.

The person ultimately responsible for what is done concerning the control of this disease is one Hilary Benn. Scion of a notable political family and a vegetarian, he has been a professional politician all his life (for his own version of his life see here) with jobs in policy wonkism throughout his career. In other words he has never worked in a job in the real world, merely the theoretical sandbox of Socialist planning and theory.

So it will come as no surprise to anyone at all that, when confronted with the shameful lapse, all this Minister had to say on the subject was that the issue of footpath closures would be investigated immediately.

Well, to be frank, Minister, ‘immediately’ is too bloody late.

A look at the map of the area surrounding East Wyke Farm (here) shows that the immediate area is criss-crossed by footpaths, bridleways and byways. Of course such measures do nothing to curb the movements of wild animals but everything which can be done to lessen or prevent completely the possibility that this disease may spread should automatically be done.

That this elementary measure has not been taken and that the Minister’s response is one of such complacency smacks of the most serious negligence and incompetence.

But what else does one expect of a man who has lived his life in an Ivory Tower?