Friday, 13 January 2012

Lord Astor

There's little doubt that a high speed rail network linking Birmingham to Europe would be a good thing for business, tourism and jobs, helping us to trade and compete with the rest of the continent. Unfortunately, for David Cameron's father-in-law Lord Astor, this means that there will be some disruption to his fox-hunting pursuits. Although he lives some distance from the proposed route, he claims that it will ruin the countryside and it's all a plot by northern Labour MPs seduced by the politics of envy to take a pop at land-owners and to spoil the Chilterns, one of their natural habitats.

If only it was.

The major desecrators of the countryside have in fact been the rich landowning lords and gentry who peddle the notion of a green and pleasant land - of which they are the custodians - while fencing off and excluding most of the population from it. Astor's forebears were rich and ruthless nineteenth century American landowners with romantic notions of Englishness who purchased land in this country (and with it, their peerages), while getting rid of anything or anybody that spoiled their view.
The sad thing is that we've accepted it all. We suck up to these people, we scrape and bow, tug our forelocks, hang on their every word and pay good money to walk round their stately piles.

And then we settle down to watch Downton Abbey.

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