Young Unemployed Should Pick up Ragwort, Says Tebbit.
With Suffolk County MyGo being set up in Ipswich, the Conservative linked Charity has received a suggestion from prominent local (Bury St Edmunds) Tory, Lord Tebbit.
The former Conservative cabinet minister Lord Tebbit has said young unemployed people should be made to pull up ragwort from roadside verges in return for benefits.
The 83-year-old Tory grandee made the proposal in a letter to Matt Shardlow, chief executive of a charity called Buglife, which is concerned about the effect of declining ragwort on bees and rare insects.
In his reply to the charity, Tebbit said ragwort was a major problem in his part of East Anglia and proposed it could be weeded out by “Neets” – young people who are not in education, work or training – and “low level criminals”.
He wrote: “I suggest you come to the Norfolk/Suffolk border areas of East Anglia. Landowners who wish to control ragwort face an impossible task when roadside verges are dominated by it to an extent I cannot remember in the past.
“There would be little cost to bring that under control if Neets and low level criminals were required as part of their contribution to the society which finances them, or which they have abused … to uproot this weed.”
Tebbit later told the Guardian: “Given a bit of organisation, they [unemployed young people] would be happy doing something constructive. That’s something constructive for them. It’s appealing, it gets rid of a weed which is a danger to some animals and helps landowners in the cultivation of their land.
“That was my thought that caused me to suggest the idea … in a way it’s a form of national service, of doing something for society in a way in which anyone unless they are physically disabled can participate.”
Asked whether he acknowledged some might find the idea of forced labour in return for benefits controversial, he said: “It’s workfare but I think there are some powerful arguments for workfare and so does [Labour MP] Frank Field for example. It’s not a way-out idea in that sense.”
For the sake of scientific honesty we add this (via Twitter BE) from the admirable “Ragwort Facts” site.
This site has been written to inform the public of the true scientific data surrounding ragwort. It exists to balance the hysteria generated in the British press. Whilst ragwort is of course toxic, it is only one of a great many toxic plants and the stories that have been published do not accurately reflect what is known from the international scientific literature . Many false claims are made about this plant, often when investigated you find there is a vested interest, selling ragwort controls of questionable value, or maybe using the hysteria to help raise an organisation’s public profile. Other people, naturally worried about animal cruelty have been convinced by the false stories and lacking the background to determine the truth are genuinely, but unnecessarily worried. This site should serve to inform the public as to the facts in a rational, informative manner. This enables land managers to take rational decisions about ragwort without falling victim to rumour and falsehoods.
More on site…..