Even Michael Gove’s enemies concede he is good at tackling vested interests. Even his friends concede he has a knack for making enemies in the process. In his new job as secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, if he is to achieve anything, he may have to do a lot of both. So here’s a field guide to the vested interests he will encounter in the countryside.
Bruce Yandle, the American economist, once coined a phrase to explain why the disastrous policy of prohibition became law in the United States between 1920 and 1933: “Bootleggers and Baptists”. A very effective coalition developed between high-minded, high-profile moral campaigners and low-mind, low-profile smuggling profiteers to push for the outlawing of alcohol. The result was legislation that was good for bootleggers and Baptists but bad for society as a whole.