It is always a pleasure to come across someone who makes you proud to be British. Baroness Trumpington, who died, aged 96, on 26 November, was one such person. While she will be remembered for her career in politics, especially for several years in the late eighties as a minister in the Department of Agriculture Food and Fisheries, she is someone who did not lose the common touch. Memorably this involved sticking two fingers up to a fellow peer (Lord King) in the House of Lords when he referred to her as “pretty old”, and included a sense of public duty in which she also presided over our local South of England Agricultural Society. Attempts to grope her when she was a land girl during WW2, by Lloyd George on his Sussex farm, simply elicited the response that he was an “old goat”. Her matronly bearing (fags, gin and all) later in life belied the fact that she had been an outstanding tennis player and was trained as a dancer with the Ballet Rambert when younger.
Explaining the MacSharry Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform to The House in 1992 she finished her presentation with “And if you understand that, you’re a better man than I, Gunga Din”. Very few people did understand the full ramifications of those policies, and the same holds true today with even more complex and contradictory conditions attached to farm subsidies. The reality, thus, is that there weren’t really any ‘better men’ than her.