Farage the right hand man

It is certainly not the first time that Nigel Farage has over-egged his omelette, and certainly not the first time he has courted controversy with ill-judged mis-information. Indeed, had he been in a kitchen, he would have long-since eclipsed Gordon Ramsey who as far as I know was only foul-mouthed, never deceitful. As Mr Kipling might have said of the UKIP man, “he bakes exceedingly good cakes,” and what almighty whoppers they are.

Last year, Farage claimed that the NHS was overrun with migrant patients claiming treatment for HIV at a cost of £25,000 each. (he said that 60% of the 7000 HIV sufferers in the UK were not British:

You can come into Britain from anywhere in the world and get diagnosed with HIV and get the [anti-]retroviral drugs, that cost up to £25,000 a year per patient.

I know there are some horrible things happening in many parts of the world, but what we need to do is put the National Health Service there for British people and families who in many cases have paid into this system for decades.

Utter tosh of course- he was immediately branded “ill-informed and discriminatory” and migrant doctors and nurses do a great deal to help the NHS. More than that, at least 6o% of people newly-infected with HIV were born in the UK. It is incidentally, quite true that we had once held a payment scheme for non EU HIV patients but since 2012, Norman Fowler has ensured that HIV infection has been classed like any other infectious disease (meningitis, tuberculosis, cholera, food poisoning, and malaria). When the legislation was introduced to bring treatment in line with the treatment of other infectious diseases, this is what was said,

“This measure will protect the public and brings HIV treatment in to line with all other infectious diseases. Treating people with HIV means they are very unlikely to pass the infection on to others.” Treatment and early diagnosis helps us all:

“Effective treatment of HIV reduces its spread by up to 96 per cent. This change is in line with the UK Chief Medical Officers’ Expert Advisory Group’s advice, and offering NHS treatment will encourage testing, resulting in fewer undiagnosed HIV infections and therefore ensuring that there is less chance of passing on infection to the wider population.”

Farage was sent a letter by ACT UP, Leanne Wood, Nicola Sturgeon and Natilie Bennett, asking him to “to apologise for his factually inaccurate, and stigmatising, comments”. Farage tends not to answer such letters.

Farage tends to dismiss criticism as exaggeration or nonsense so he is not likely to be bothered now that fellow Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom  questioned his claims- “obviously it is an outrageous thing to say”, she said.

What Farage threatens this time is further attacks in Britain like that of Cologne at New Year if we remain in the UK. Women will no longer be safe because British and migrants have “very big cultural” differences. That may be partially true but it is certainly not true that all migrants are abusers and potential rapists. That is absurd and racist.

The two claims, about HIV and the potential danger to women posed by migrants, however tell us something more about Farage the man. Not only is he prepared to peddle fear in horror-film format, but he is also clearly obsessed with sex. This, from someone who hopes to be Boris Johnson’s right hand man come a successful result at the referendum. This is what Farage said of Boris and how he envisaged his role as right hand man, on May 14th:

“I love Boris, respect him, admire him; I’m a Boris fan. Could I work for him? Yes. Could I see a scenario if he was PM and he asked me to do something? I wouldn’t rule it out.

Poor Boris! I shudder to think what weird favours Farage intends to provide, but as he says, “I wouldn’t rule it out”

Thank God for Chris Heaton Harris who leads the Leave campaign with the qualification that he will not discuss the immigration stuff nor score points off immigration. I wish others would wake up to the reality that immigration is a quite different question to whether we remain in or out of Europe, and the Turkey-basting is simply embarrassing.

However this story moves forward, Andrea Leadsom and Chris Heaton Harris, our two local MPs come out of it very well. There are some prices we cannot pay, and we can never condone the sort of racist demagogy championed by Farage. Surely after this election, he will retire for more than a few weeks… we live in hope.

Here are a few pictures to put all this into context.

Trump needs a trim

We live in a world dominated by peculiarly dull politicians, so it ought to make sense that those with a little eccentricity get support. Trump, sadly goes too far. He is an engaging speaker but he is not a politician: he is more of a fairground bouncer, a barnum and bailey carousel barker, but the joke has worn thin as I suggest has his hair, and it is time to call time on this playground parody. He needs a trim.

I have issues with The new Mayor, Khan, but I like the way he has responded to Trump’s offer that Khan might be the new Jesse Owens, the single blessed exception to his pernicious anti-Muslim rule. Khan knows the concession validates the underlying rule -and we can never dignify the ravings of a man hiding beneath a bird’s nest. Heaven forbid that he might win- that would be one weird cuckoo taking over the Whitehouse!


Hair and history

History has often savaged political leaders blessed with a luxuriant mane. Heseltine, Foot and Alexander the Great all tripped up and lost the game when they seemed to be winning, and Boris’s mop may well prove to be his downfall too. The spectre of Samson looms large but we cannot go too far with this imagery because it was undue criticism of Trudeau’s hair that gave him some sort of advantage and La Clinton’s hair barely merits a mention these days which may well usher her back into the Whitehouse.

At the beginning of the current US campaign, the Obama team tried to rubbish Trump’s hair with claims that it was all fake. There has been talk about Trump’s use of an ointment called Rogaine (he handed it out to one of his employees apparently who was suffering hair loss), of his having had a surgical flap (a form of hair transplant) and grafts like some sort of cranial rose. But surely we are beyond that now- can floppy hair ever explain his rudeness, racism and bigotry? can so many wives and girlfriends be combed away so easily? I am with Cameron and Khan in sniffing at his bonce. Can these teflon locks really explain why Trump gets away with the worst excesses of follicular audacity? Is it hair, or does Trump conceal some sort of blond rodent presumably whispering inanities into his hidden ear – a bit like the rat in “Ratatoille” – is he in short, the Davy crocket of the 21st century-  It may not be a hairpiece- it may be an earpiece, or maybe Trump believes it is the word of God. Moses had long hair too, remember?

And is that Trumping racoon dangerous?

The answer regrettably is yes, and if Trump says we need to get out of Europe, there can be only one sane response. We need to stay, but we need to make sure we’ve got a sturdy pair of scissors to hand for all the trimming we will need to do. We have to remember the History of Europe- but we have to be mindful of recent scissoring too. Can we ever forget the haircuts given to Greece? Unless Mrs Merkel wants to present herself as a modern-day Dalilah, a trip to the barber should be a joy, not a punishment.

louis XVI

Roman soldiers had short hair- probably a reason why St Paul promoted haircuts in the New Testament, though, of course, the rabbis might tell a different story- and certainly in Hassidic Judaism, it would be the women (the wig wearers) who shave their hair while the men still grow it in elegant tassles, as indeed do Orthodox monks (the man bun is not just for John Snow). British history, meanwhile, pitches the long-haired Royalists against the sturdy Roundheads, suggesting that short hair means business (Nicola Sturgeon?). But short hair historically has also been associated with slavery and long hair has been tied up with liberation and the urge to rebel (remember the musical “Hair”?).

Moving from politics, there have been some notable long haired men, often scientists- Robert Boyle (as in Boyle’s law), Dmitri Mendeleev, the periodic table man, Carl Linnaeus (the “Gorilla Gorilla” man from Biology), Da Vinci, Ben Franklin, Albert Einstein of course and Isaac Newton, but also artists like Jim Morrison, Bob Marley, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Oscar Wilde, Franz Liszt, Leif Segerstam (who puts me to shame) Stokowski, Jesus, Brian May and so on. But then there is Richard Branson, and immediately we start to think again of Mr Trump and of the desperate need for both a decisive tonsure and a monastic vow of silence.

Whatever nonsense might be in his head, whatever words he utters, the curse of Trump’s excessive hair never really goes away. It has becoming an icon of insanity, whether ours or his I suppose will be decided at the Presidential election.


The Aegean idea

There are 47,500 migrants stranded in Greece at the moment. These are the ones who are counted and regarded as part of the ongoing “EU migration” process. There are countless more who have found a way of hovering on the fringes of Greek society, making a buck in the cinemas near Omonia and begging or stealing whatever they can to get by. Certainly the current agreement does nothing for them and does little to sort out the squalor that remains in Idomeni. All it will do at best is to send a signal to the people who manage the boats in Turkey that this Aegean crossing is closed. After 4 years, that is modest progress, but I was talking about the dangers of this people-smuggling issue nearly 15 years ago and no one paid much attention to me then.

So what is changing now?

An agreement about illegal migration to Greece may well have taken place, but to implement it will involve the movement of countless judges and lawyers from Athens to the islands, as well as the 2300 experts cited by Tsipras and imported from mainland europe to oversee the process, because presumably each of the migrants landing on Samos or Lesbos or wherever will demand and be entitled to a legally responsible decision before being shipped back to Turkey (lest the plan fall foul of the declarations made by the UN under the Geneva Convention). More than that, the EU deal will not process back those refugees already on Greek soil- Turkey ruled that out on 10th March!merkel

I find it hard to see how Greece will be able to manage this in practice, so whether the deal with Turkey and the EU is morally or legally sound, it still faces a practical problem. What has taken months of legal work in Athens so far will now be done in a matter of hours in makeshift courts along the seafront of Samos- I doubt it somehow! As I understand it, however, the Syrians who are deported from Turkey to the EU will be sent to specific EU countries to be processed, so this might ease the burden on Greece  in the long run and that thought alone might energise the process a bit.

Amnesty calls the EU/turkey agreement a “historic blow to human rights”, though to be fair, when I was in Greece, Amnesty had been infiltrated by some very peculiar people, some of whom were certainly illegal migrants. So, as Christine Keeler might have said, “They would say that, wouldn’t they!”

It seems unclear, at the moment, whether Greece is also being awarded extra funds to deal with this. If not, I await the outcry from Athens (a) that Turkey is being unfairly awarded 6 billion euros and (b) that this much hyped agreement merely moves the problem from one country to another. It might deter the boats in the Aegean, but it will hardly stop the boats already arriving again in Malta from Libya and Tunisia..

And it does not answer the moral question at all- why should a country like Turkey accommodate so many more refugees/migrants than the 28 different countries currently in the EU? I worry that we have somehow shifted all discussions away from the bigger picture and we are focused only on making a quick “deal”- in other words, have we just all become barrow-boys or costermongers in some sort of market-place… oh yes, we have! And wasn’t it once called “the Common Market”?

Whatever trading we do, we must not forget the bigger picture. We need a moral centre, not just a tidy profit or a quick solution.

Do not fear!

welbyI need to choose words very carefully here- I am stepping over (or into!) the shoes of the current Archbishop of Canterbury. I am certainly challenging what he said. Justin Welby preached “fear” and that, to me is a red line that should never be crossed. Gone are the days when the pulpit offered such entertainment. Today we can cast our minds back to “Hammer Horror” if we want a thrill, or we can look to the diet of films that have played out in the few years since the millenium. Here are a selection of such films for a man evidently hooked on “fear” like the current Primate of Canterbury- “The others” (2001), and Mulholland Drive (2001), “the Ring”(2002), “Orphan”(2009),  “the descent” (2005), “Bug” (2006), “Let the right one in” (2008) and its sequel “Let me in” (2010). We do not need fear-mongers in the pulpit and certainly not those who advocate principles that fly in the face of their own vocation. At a time when the TV is filled with the xenophobic rants of Trump, I believe Justin Welby makes a bad problem worse. In short, as the senior cleric in the UK and leader or guardian of our moral health, he had no right to sanction our fear of migrants.

Wesley’s rather than Welby’s “fear”

But, to be fair to Welby, “fear” is a confused word in the mouths of English Churchmen. “Work out your salvation”, says Paul in the King James Version, “with Fear and trembling”. It seems to me, for instance, that there is certainly room for this kind of “fear” in the next few months because we shall be making a collective decision at the Referendum that will determine the way this country works and to do that casually would be folly. We should be mindful and in the language of John Wesley, therefore, that might mean we should be “fearful”; in other words, we should be respectful and careful. My own name calls out the same message- “Timothy” comes from two greek words meaning literally to “fear God”, but the sense of this name is to be “respectful”, not to be cowering in terror or worried about whether God might steal my job.

Calling for fear in this debate is tantamount to a licence for racism or at least xenophobia and that must be wrong in the mouth of an Archbishop.

The Fear stuff comes in an interview published in “House” magazine where Welby concedes there is , in his words, “a colossal crisis” because of migration into Europe. That is perfectly reasonable. He then says that people who express fear about this migration are not racist -“There is a tendency to say ‘those people are racist’, which is just outrageous, absolutely outrageous.” He went on and added ” and the UK should be “taking its fair share of the load”. (well, thank God he concedes that much!)

“Fear is a valid emotion at a time of such colossal crisis.

“This is one of the greatest movements of people in human history. Just enormous. And to be anxious about that is very reasonable.” (*TW: note how he’s already back-tracking. anxiety rather than fear, so he knows he said the wrong thing!)

However, it seems to me that fear is not a valid emotion in this context (though I admit there are instances where migrants have behaved badly) and in a country where there is actually a good deal of wealth, we should be better placed to manage people’s insecurities and at the same time, offer significantly more hope to those who have turned to us with outstretched arms, looking for a better life or looking for any sort of life at all!

These words, of course, play well in the hands of the BREXIT group- as Ian Duncan Smith intoned-

“These are rational comments from the archbishop – they’re to be welcomed – but you wonder just how late they’ve come from various people in institutions, so I congratulate him. If you think back, for far too many years what’s happened is that in a sense the elites have all said ‘It’s terrible to talk about immigration and if you do you’re racist’, so they’ve shut down the debate for many, many years.”

But we should not be engaged in this debate and certainly it should not have been started or been licenced by the Archbishop. Welby’s job is to preach the Gospel, and he would do well to heed the message in Matthew 25:36- to provide for the needy, the poor, to visit prisoners, the sick and the dying. He might also look at Gen 23:4, Ex 2.22, Lev 25:23, 1 Chron 29:15,Ps 39:12, 119:19,  Hebrews 11:13 and reflect on the fact that we might all migrants and all in need of shelter. There, but for the grace of God…

The Greek example:

I also refer the Archbishop to the example of the villages on Lesbos, Kos, Chios, Samos, Rhodes and Leros who have good reason to fear for their security in an economoc crisis frankly imposed on them by Northern European bullies. These islanders have routinely shown migrants pouring on to their shores the hospitality and shelter that Welby ignores.There may be fear- but it is Welby’s job to preach an answer to fear, and that answer is kindness.

The islanders in Greece deserve a nobel prize in the same way that Welby deserves to be stripped of his office (or at least suspended for the duration of the Referendum). This is what Spyros Limneos said,

“By opening their hearts the islanders sent a powerful message that humanity is above races, above nations.”

Humza Yousaf, up in Scotland, has the right idea, of course! Certainly he’s ready to debate the idea without all this “fear” nonsense. But really, he is not alone. We may talk about the many things we must thank the waves of migrants for over the years- from fine tailoring to fish and chips but we must still also be ready as a Nation to help those who need help now, and- as for economic migrants: well, many of those we need too- they are the ones with the vision and maybe the skills to kickstart our economy. Fear-mongers are just plain wrong!


Oh, and unless it looks like I advocate a migrant “free for all”, not at all. Our responsibility is to be ready without fear to welcome these strangers but the response to our kindness and hospitality is also responsibility and people who come here have their own responsibility to learn our language, promote our values and engage in our society.

Migration is not part of the Referendum

I understand many of the arguments put forward by BREXIT as also by the “staying in” camp, but there are enough valid issues to be discussed without touching on that of migration: economics, fishing, farming, political independence and so on. Moreoever, the migration issue was surely done to death last year by the nasty brigade that lurks within UKIP (Believe me, there are some very good and noble UKIPpers who, like me, think the migration issue should be off-limits). Migration is a separate deal that will be solved by finding a Syrian peace, and by working in harmony with our neighbours to deal with the flow of migrants: the migration issue will continue whether we are “in” or “out” of the EU and the Archbishop gives a very cheap and simplistic lead in what he says today. What he also says is categorically against the spirit not only of Christianity which he represents, but of Judaism and Islam. It is wholly wrong. Leave it to others to preach fear if he must. BUT If he intends to stay in office, or indeed leave office with any honour, this garrulous priest needs to shut his mouth for the rest of the summer.


Boris lightened the tone today by referencing Welby’s comments and saying that after the referendum, we may need prayer. We certainly need unity and we need to work on that now. the referendum may well energise our democracy but we must be careful that it does not fracture our society as indeed the Scottish referendum threatened to do. We need to engage in this debate without fear, and look at both sides so we can reach a decision that leads us to make a reliable and informed vote in the summer. It is the role of the churches and faiths to bind us together during this process: we will remain a single Nation and British whether we are “in” or “out”. I would like to see us become a better Nation for this debate.

to the Queen


queen1There is a great moment in the play “A Man for All Seasons” by Robert Bolt when Thomas More is finally brought to trial for treason and faces Sir Richard Rich (played in the film by John Hurt), the man who has perjured himself and More asks, “Is it probable that after so long a silence on this the very point so urgently sought of me, I should open my mind to such a man as that?” As Richard prepares to leave the chamber, More looks at his new chain of office- “the red dragon?.. Why Richard it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world, but for Wales?”

This exchange is very much in my mind as I read about the alleged indiscretion about EU by Her Majesty the Queen. Quite apart from the fact that private conversations are by custom never made public, the question lingers- why would a monarch who has spent 63 years carefully avoiding political controversy open her heart to the people at lunch that day on 8th April 2011? I simply find it unbelievable. The Queen is above party politics and this story should not have been splashed over the front page of The Sun. But as it was, it is worth looking in a bit more detail to see that is actually alleged to have been said-

In 2011, the Queen is supposed to have told Nick Clegg that she believed the EU was going in the “wrong direction”. She was apparently very forceful in the presentation of her views. This was when the Euro was in full-blown crisis, with a deeply dodgy Italian Prime Minister clinging on to office despite a gathering sex scandal, and just before the first IMF bailout to Greece. The lunch took place on 8th April so a quick trawl through the internet shows that on 7th, Portugal joined Greece in requesting financial help. So, (a) Her Majesty’s alleged views well-precede any serious discussion on a Brexit, and are long before the PM called a Referendum and (b) are little more than a statement of fact. I cannot imagine anyone with sanity believes that EU has been infallible or foolpoof and indeed, most people would agree with the Queen, even today, whether they advocate an “in” or “out” option in the Referendum. If she said anything at all, then some serious “spin” has been added to the telling.

However, both Lord Mcnally and Nick Clegg deny that any such views were expressed at all at the Lunch. Nick Clegg said on TV this morning, ‘It is not true. I have certainly, absolutely no recollection of a conversation like that, which I suspect I would have remembered if it had taken place. I just think it’s wrong that people who want to take us out of the European Union to now try and drag the Queen for their own purposes into this European referendum debate.’

However, there can be no doubt at all that the EU has followed “the wrong direction” and requires (radical) reform, so that simple statement, whether made by the Queen or not, neither supports a BREXIT nor a “stay in” vote. It is simply common sense. I hope enough noise is now made about the referendum that, whatever the result, the EU tidies up its act significantly. There should never have been reason to campaign for the fishermen in Cornwall, but their livelihood is in danger as indeed is the whole British Fishing industry. The way Europe has treated Greece is deplorable and its handling of the Syrian refugee crisis has been tardy, sanctimonious and foolhardy. There are times when urgent action is demanded and instead, the EU has observed a number of serious crises, from the banking crisis to the humanitarian crisis that is Syria and, frankly, fiddled. “The wrong direction?” Most certainly!

But to draw from this comment in 2011 the conclusion that the Queen favours BREXIT in 2016 is absurd and cheap. A number of people today are being exposed as the possible source of this Palace leak- and how petty, weak and insignificant they appear – dragging the Monarch into a debate she never entered and scoring a cheap home-goal.

Among those who deserve a smack is the otherwise admirable Rees Mogg: He was reported in the original Sun report as saying “I’d be delighted if this was true and Her Majesty is a Brexiter.” He later tweeted “The Queen will be mortified to have been manipulated thus. It does Brexit enormous discredit.”So, let’s hope Mr Rees Mogg was also been mis-quoted by the people in the Sun. It wouldn’t be the first time.


Apparently, beyond Mr Clegg and another Liberal, Lord McNally (both champions of the “In” campaign anyway), there are two likely candidates for leaking the alleged comments- they are, firstly as forerunner and chief suspect, Michael Gove, the Justice Secretary and a prominent “outer” who says he had “no idea” where the claims came from and whose department underlined his innocence  this morning with the statement that, ‘We don’t comment on private conversations with the Queen.’ Secondly, the Welsh Secretary, Cheryl Gillian, who, so far, has issued no denials – what should we conclude?

“Why Cheryl, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world, but for Wales?”


PS: here is a link to a Breitbart article. This organisation is very pro-UKIP so I think more reliable than most to stress the Queen’s pro-EU thoughts. It claims her speech was written for her, so does not express her views… but I think it restores balance and frankly is in tune with the Queen’s approach to what matters- unity and kindness. Whatever our views on the referendum, we must now look beyond that to ensure that unity in our country is fully restored as soon as any decision is made.


“Since 1945 the United Kingdom has determined to number among Germany’s very strongest friends in Europe. In the intervening decades, Britain and Germany have achieved so much by working together. I have every confidence that we will continue to do so in the years ahead.

“Our work together includes every part of life, from politics to commerce, from industry to every aspect of the arts, in particular, music, museums and education.

“In our lives we have seen the worst but also the best of our continent. We have witnessed how quickly things can change for the better. But we know that we must work hard to maintain the benefits of the post-war world. We know that division in Europe is dangerous and that we must guard against it in the West as well as in the East of our continent. That remains a common endeavour.”

“Since 1945 the United Kingdom has determined to number among Germany’s very strongest friends in Europe. In the intervening decades, Britain and Germany have achieved so much by working together. I have every confidence that we will continue to do so in the years ahead.

“Our work together includes every part of life, from politics to commerce, from industry to every aspect of the arts, in particular, music, museums and education.

“In our lives we have seen the worst but also the best of our continent. We have witnessed how quickly things can change for the better. But we know that we must work hard to maintain the benefits of the post-war world. We know that division in Europe is dangerous and that we must guard against it in the West as well as in the East of our continent. That remains a common endeavour.”

More on Fishing

Current UK Fishing Industry Issues

by Deborah Cowley (illustrations by TIM)

Richard Ede

After speaking with fishermen, skippers, officials and DEFRA it is clear that the industry is hanging by a thread. The ever changing ‘out of touch’ quotas that favour the highest bidder has led to a genuine apathy and depression among the fishermen. It used to be rage but many have now given up the will to fight a system where they are but small fishes in a big EU regulated pond. One of the industries highest officials told me he goes to Brussels regularly and feels so frustrated with the red tape he encounters each time. So far, he’s the only one I’ve found who still has any energy left for an industry he cares deeply about, being from a 5th generation fishing background. But yet the men are still out there, with their humiliating quotas, trying to keep tradition and their birth rights alive. As the younger generation are being urged by their parents to pursue other careers, eventually there won’t be any UK fishermen left with the knowledge past down from their ancestry. By leaving the EU and gaining back control of our land and our seas the fishermen stand a chance. But we need to begin supporting them now, before it is too late, and this wonderful tradition is lost forever.



Fishing problems in Cornwall and why Captain COD’s campaign is so important

Screen shot 2015-10-13 at 22.08.40

Deborah Cowley writes the following,


Cornish fishermen have hit local and national press twice in the last few weeks. Blue fin tuna, worth millions of pounds, spotted off the Cornish coast and a Newlyn Trawler, forced to throw back its accidental 10 tonne haul of spurdog shark because of EU legislation. This is good news for our fishermen in one sense, as it highlights the frustration they face on a daily basis, forced to comply with an impractical ‘tangled net’ of restrictions, currently imposed on the UK.

  • An unrealistic quota system resulting in vast quantities of a discarded natural resource
  • Friction between the UK and other member states due to large fleets of foreign super-trawlers with access to our waters under the CFP (Common Fisheries Policy)
  • Subsidies that benefit countries with a higher volume of modernised commercial vessels at a disadvantage to UK fishermen and the taxpayer by default
  • Expensive licenses, operating costs and fluctuating market prices, leading to low income, job losses and a steady decline of traditional small scale British fleets
  • Questionable scientific research relating to zero TAC (Total Allowable Catch) applied to species such as spurdog, abundant in Cornish, as well as other UK waters, according to the fishermen

paul and deborah

Paul Trebilcock, Chief Executive of CFPO (The Cornish Fish Producers’s Organisation), is especially concerned with zero TAC’s on spurdog, introduced by the EU in 2010 because of stock status fears.


A discard ban, in force since January 2015, now obliges fishermen to land by-catches of saleable fish in excess of quota to help preserve and maintain a viable economy. As regulation allows quotas to be sold, leased and exchanged between fishermen, this is a welcome step in the right direction for the industry. Past preservation measures and successful resting mean many stocks are now flourishing. The new EU parliamentary rule is to take effect in stages from now until 2019. This ruling, however, does not apply to species with zero TAC’s, including those considered to be endangered, such as spurdog. Paul said “This is a waste of a perfectly good food resource clearly not in line with CFP principles.” He added: “There is no question in my mind that spurdog populations are increasing throughout Western Approaches and beyond.” Together with scientific agency CEFAS and DEFRA (Department for Food & Rural Affairs), Paul and his team are hoping to address this issue with a pilot project using a real time reporting system. This will enable the fishermen to document an increasing number of spurdog accidently caught and provide scientists with the evidence necessary to a land a limited amount of a dead marketable resource without incentivising targeting stock.

THis is not a “FISHERMAN’S TALE”


Skipper, Phil Trebilcock, is certain there is “no short supply of spurdog” (recorded in his logbook). “A recent haul in Newlyn had to get a crane to lift it out as the drum couldn’t take the weight. Good quality, healthy fish, ending up as crab bait. It’s a shame there wasn’t live TV coverage so the public can see what’s out there too.” Spurdog breed fast. They eat mackerel, pilchards and anchovies, heavy in Cornish coastal areas, so it’s no surprise the fish appear to be flourishing. Phil estimates that with a reasonable quota it could be sold at £1.00 a kilo. “Enough for a decent income for Cornish fishermen.” The fourth generation mariner is adamant our men would “fish sensibly” and give it adequate resting time to replenish stocks, as they do with other fish. The skipper firmly believes there “should be regional management of quotas.”

Ben Eglington said: “We are jumping through a lot of hoops, really struggling. One of the problems with our quotas is weather; it governs how we catch. If conditions are good for a certain fish, and we’ve already reached our quota, there’s nothing we can do. We are throwing money away, over the side of the boat, and that’s just daft.” Ben, 27, is among the minority of young fishermen in Britain today (average age around 50) Most have to take second jobs in order to earn a living. “Hardly any young people are going into the industry anymore. Their families are advising them not to. So there will be a shortage of fisherman here in the future.”



Tension with regulation is the same at Mevagissey Harbour. Andrew Trevaraton said: “Last year we had to throw away 2,400 haddock, most of it dead, as we were out targeting lemon soul. Afterwards, one of our other boats went out with CEFAS to show them how many there are and caught ¾ of a tonne in just an hour and a half. Our monthly quota for haddock is only 250 kilos and there are thousands of tonnes of it in the Cornish Coast. Smaller boats, restricted by weather, don’t need to be travelling hundreds of miles away when resources are here on our doorstep.”

Fishing since the age of 5, William Shugg, agrees with Andrew. “Haddock is a big problem here. Three years ago our monthly quota was 4 tonnes. Last week I caught 200 kilos in one day. Before that, 600 in a day; more than double the quota. I sent a message to DEFRA about this problem but had no reply. Without complicated rules our jobs would be so much easier. The industry allows us to sell and swap quotas but this is time consuming and not always possible. Earning a living is extremely hard. Fluctuating prices for some fish, like mackerel, can go from 20p a kilo to as high as £6.00. We can’t budget which is why most fishermen have second jobs.” When asked about spurdog, he said: “We see it all the time. My friend had a substantial by-catch recently in Falmouth Bay. It’s also here in Meva but we have to throw it back.” Echoing the words of Phil Trebilcock, William concluded: “Fisherman should be able to govern quotas themselves. Swap and help each other with regional committees. It would be much fairer system.”

Harbour Master, Matthew Wheeler, is hopeful that a few places now offering training schemes will help encourage young people into the industry. “Many from a traditional family fishing background now choose different career paths as it’s an easier way of making money.”


Described as “hardy and resilient” by James Incledon, of channel 4’s popular documentary, The Catch, fishermen at one of the UK’s largest marine ports are equally tied up in bureaucratic knots. Beam trawler Skipper, Sean Porter said: “We are one of the richest fishing grounds in this country and MP’s are not doing enough. Until the day one of them actually owns a boat, we’ll forever be speaking a different language. Ministers should be appointed with expert knowledge in their fields. It’s like having a Minister of brain surgery with no medical training.” Sean said that when one of the European Ministers visited the harbour, he was shocked to learn they “steam out non stop with up to seven hauls a day.” The skipper said this was yet another example of why we shouldn’t be dictated to by Brussels. “CEFAS only come out on each of the boats twice a year.”

There are numerous species the Newlyn fishermen can target when quotas for certain fish are low so they are more fortunate in this aspect. Not so fortunate though if the men find themselves temporarily out of work due to injuries. “If we can’t go out, we don’t get paid and the benefit system doesn’t look after us like they do in France. We are treated like second class citizens here. I spent nearly three months without any pay once. The French wouldn’t put up with that.” Surprisingly, the ‘resilient’ skipper hasn’t lost his sense of humour. “I said to officials that with all the extra paperwork we’re having to do every day, they can go out and buy me a size 26 blouse and skirt and pair of high heels, because if I’m going to be a secretary I may as well dress like one.”

Steven Sately (nicknamed ‘Cod’) said: “Quotas don’t work with mixed fisheries like Newlyn. And changing quotas every month makes things worse. The people who make the rules don’t even know the rules themselves half the time. There is enough fish out there for everyone if it was worked out carefully. But in this country we are dependent on DEFRA to do this for us. ”


Retired fisherman, Richard Ede, left the industry ten years ago as he’d “had enough” of the “out of touch with reality rules imposed by the CFP.” Richard said: “We sacrificed an industry back in 1973 (when Britain entered the EU). The UK has a habit of doing things to the letter, and beyond, much to the detriment of our nation. Quotas are not a major concern for those with stronger fleet duration. Policy makers shouldn’t sell away resources to the highest bidder. A lot of fish is caught by huge foreign trawlers before it is even fully grown. It is no wonder stocks are dwindling. Before the seventies, when we had control of a 200 nautical mile radius of the waters around Britain things were very different. We should turn the clock back and become the guardians of our seas again.” Richard cites Norway as an example of a how a self regulating fishing industry thrives by managing its own stocks.” In his opinion, the CFP is fundamentally flawed as it limits landings, not the catch, therefore “not protecting stocks.” He said: “It is a scandalous waste of resources, money and labour.”

Cornish MP and Minister of DEFRA, George Eustice said: “The marine environment is incredibly complex. No man-made policy designed to manage it and deliver sustainable fisheries will ever be perfect. The science will never be perfect.”

“If we want sustainable fisheries, there is no alternative but to have some kind of catch limits on vessels and some kind of quota system. Whether we are in or out of the CFP we would have that quota system, just as Norway, the Faroe Islands and other states pursue catch limits. And we would still have arguments with other countries about allocation of fish stocks and seek reciprocal access arrangements.”

Richard benyon

The Fisheries Minister said: “We should all pay tribute to the great work of my predecessor in this post.” (Richard Benyon) “Who I believe made some important breakthroughs on reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.”

“Even I, a strong Eurosceptic, recognise that good progress was made on CFP reform.”

Cornish fishermen have no argument that catch limits and quotas are required. After all, it is in their interest to preserve stocks for the industry to survive. They will argue, however, that policy made in Brussels is giving them an unfair deal. The new Landing Obligation will go some way to rectify this but still unclear as to how much fish will be wasted on dry land. With a growing population and a record number of people relying on food banks this is simply an unacceptable practise. As a traditional, sea-fairing nation, we need to do all we can to support these hard working men, out there day and night in dangerous conditions, so that we can enjoy what ends up on our plates.

Sanjay Kumar, founder of School of Cornish Sardines and major supporter of the UK fishing industry, agrees that quotas need to be re-distributed according to natural resource of artisanal fishermen. He said: “It is the fisherman who is the endangered species, not the fish.”

Captain Cod is part of the “BETTER OFF OUT” campaign and a mascot for our endangered Fishing fleet.