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'I just remember the sheer numbers'

3rd Aug 2018 / By Richard Longthorp

For NPA chairman Richard Longthorp shares his memories of the events of 20 years ago. This article appeared in the August edition of Pig World.  

pig marchers 98So, when Alistair asked me for my reflections on pig industry “activity” back in 1998, my immediate reaction was “I can barely remember what happened yesterday let alone 20 years ago!”

But as I thought about it, there was one single abiding memory. I can’t remember too much of the detail of events like the meeting at Bishop Burton, the demonstration at Immingham Docks or the rally in Trafalgar Square but what I do remember is still quite vivid.

The sheer numbers.

Hundreds at Bishop Burton and several hundreds if not thousands at Immingham and Trafalgar Square.

Hundreds of pig industry people desperate for some respite – respite from an unprecedented haemorrhaging of cash from their business, their personal savings and their pensions. Brought on by a combination of circumstances not least of which was the duplicity of retailers and ambivalence of government.

Some would try and justify their actions by saying it was 'the market at work'.

To which I say “Bollox”

Even Adam Smith might have been moved to empathise with the industry’s plight. For according to the man himself, “markets and trade are, in principle, good things—provided there is competition and a regulatory framework that prevents ruthless selfishness, greed and rapacity from leading to socially harmful outcomes. But competition and market regulations are always in danger of being undermined and circumnavigated, giving way to monopolies that are very comfortable and highly profitable to monopolists and may spell great trouble for many people.”

Sound familiar?

And for an industry to halve in size in the space of a few short years in significant part as a result of “the market” surely vindicates Smith’s warnings above... and the action that the industry took to try and “remedy” the imbalance of power.

But at what a tragic loss and waste of human capital.

  • Picture credit: votenpa.co.uk/index.html