by Alan Davies, FUW Managing Director
I WAS having some difficulty preparing to write this article. Whenever I looked at the paper I ju st cou ldn’t get my pento move. The last 10 days have seenthe news with next to nothing abou t Brexit as Parliament has beenonholiday, and of cou rse, the pleasant su nny weather over the Easter weekend was most enjoyable too.
Then, as I was driving home one night, something onthe radio really made me smile.
Apparently, today, as I write this, is St George’s Day. Well, it is for some people.
Now,I’mnotreallyafollowerofStGeorge, I’ve got far more important patron saints to worry abou t, bu t it made me smile to hear that whilst 23 April is St George’s Day, apparently today, this year it’s not!
For a technical reasonknownbest to the Church of England, St George’s day cannot be celebrated inEaster week. Therefore, whenthe 23 April falls inEaster week the Saint’s day is celebrated inthe week following ‐ onApril 30, not April 23 as many expected.
Bu t I wasn’t lau ghing at that itself. What was really entertaining was a comment onthe radio that many, many MPs ‐ who had returned to work inthe House of Commons that day ‐ had beenwishing each other a “Happy St George’s Day” for most of the day. And indoing so had got it wrong.
Withou t checking the accu racy of what they were saying, they had plou ghed on “as normal”, trying to d emonstrate how tu ned into a particu lar su bject they were by expressing a probably u nnecessary sentiment.
There’s a term for this, created inthe last few years, and it’s called “virtue‐signalling” ‐ which is defined as “the actionor practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s positionona particu lar issu e.”
Oftenthou gh, it is ju st spou ting a message for the sake of popu lism and u sed to d emonstrate how the “virtu ou s signaller” is well connected to anissu e, evenif in reality, they are not.
You don’t evenneed to tru ly agree with a message ‐ you ju st need to say the “right th ing”.
It’s a pointless exercise, in many cases vacu ou s and very often shows the perpetrators of virtu e signalling for what they are, people chasing pu blic opinionand popu list view.
I reckonthat there are lessons here for u s: we never need to spou t for the sake of it. We need to continu e checking ou r facts and ensu ring we know what we are saying before we say it. And we need to ensu re that ou r message has real valu e rather than playing to a popu list opinion. That way we shall be tru sted and respected for what we say.
Because I do think that we stick to the facts, we only comment whenwe need to and we will continu e to work like this, and not be su cked into the u nnecessary messaging that some others u se.
There are many seriou s issu es facing farmers and farming over the coming years. Some will be takenu p by other organisations laying the blame at farmers and will