2007 - 2021

All sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos

We already know that Brexit could mean food shortages, a return to Genetically Modified crops and the delicacies of chlorinated chicken. With the London Economic reporting “new figures have revealed that nearly four million adults in the UK have been forced to use food banks as poverty grips Britain” we know now that our food system which is in crisis already, is moving into new dimensions.

As Boris unwittingly lets slip what was obvious to everyone, that Brexit is entering Meltdown, the security of our food supply increasingly looks like a chapter out of the Grapes of Wrath.

This could affect all elements of our food supply and distribution system, starting with seafood and fruit. The crisis was revealed daily this week.

On Tuesday the National reported the impact of Brexit on the Scottish seafood industry from a  report which suggested  a “hard Brexit” could cost £85 million in economic output and 430 full-time equivalent jobs (“Brexit to severely diminish value of Scottish seafood industry”):

“Scotland’s most valuable food export will see up to 6% wiped from its value due to Brexit, analysts say. An economic impact report carried out for the Scottish Government points to “significant harm” to Scottish salmon farming and the wider seafood sector.”

“As much as 43% of the job losses would be in the nation’s fishing sector, with another 44% in processing, devastating coastal communities.”

On Wednesday MPs on Westminster’s Scottish affairs committee heard a warning from Kristen Hopewell, a senior lecturer in international political economy on trade at Edinburgh University, that Peterhead fish processing could be relocated to Poland after Brexit, as reported by the Press and Journal.

On Thursday the Herald reported that “Fruit farms face chronic shortage of foreign labour” and that farms and producers fear that crops may be left to rot in the ground as UK workers make up just one in 400 pickers.

The government has pledged to address the issue of whether or not to introduce a scheme to give seasonal workers from further afield special permits to work in the UK, similar to the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) that was closed way back in 2013. But so far, no alternative has been proposed.

As usual the Scottish Government’s lack of devolved authority in immigration hampers our ability to react to a crisis that is being imposed on us.

To talk of these looming problems is derided by the UK govt as ‘Project Fear’ (sic).

With the Foreign Secretary now lauding Trumpism, it’s clear that this unfolding social disaster is part of organised chaos being embraced by the British political elite, operating with a verve of recklessness that has thrown off the pretence of paternalism and embraced a new dogma. Johnson was recorded by BuzzFeed News at a private event at the Institute of Directors hallucinating about Trump running Brexit negotiations saying:

“He’d go in bloody hard … There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere. It’s a very, very good thought.”

This is unchartered territory in which industries facing economic ruin, and whole communities whose livelihoods are based around food production could be facing collapse, and senior members of the Cabinet are embracing this with glee.

Farming and fishing are industries which are by their nature precarious. They involve moving seasonal and fresh produce, and they are industries which already face tight margins and their own challenges. They also have deep institutional knowledge built into them. So if you lose a farm or a fishing boat, a farmer or a skipper, their knowledge can’t be replaced instantly. It is years of accumulated – often family – knowledge.

Brexit means food chaos.

It’s deeply ironic, and tragic, that seafood, an area where Scotland has had some success, and fresh fruit, in which Scotland is a European leader are the two areas of produce likely to be hit first by the Brexit meltdown coming our way.


Comments (26)

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    1. Ah, Bertie Armstrong …

      1. Jamsie says:

        Mr Ed

        Could it just as easily be Ah, Fergus Ewing…..

        Ask any farmer what they think of him.

        Incompetent, dishonest….there are quite a few descriptions.

        So you are saying the report by Marine Scotland is incorrect or are you saying it has been misquoted by Mr Armstrong?

        1. William Low says:

          Once again conflating two separate reports. Yes at the time of the referendum, it was suggested that Scotland would have access to greater quotas of ‘our fish’. But as subsequent analysis showed this not to be the case. Quite apart from the requirement to honour international treaties, it was suggested that the Brexit negotiators would use the fishing industry as a bargaining chip in negotiations. An industry large in Scotland and even larger in Peterhead is minuscule in London. The representatives of the fishing industry did make much of the idea of leaving the EU, but sadly reality is beginning to dawn and the idea of taking back control is being seen for the myth that it is. One other minor point, it is better to have evidence to support an opinion, and not to allow the discontent you feel with the SNP to cloud your judgement. Anyone who has followed the story of the issue regarding fishing after Brexit will not be surprised at the latest outcome.


          1. Jamsie says:


            So what are you saying?
            Is the report factually incorrect?
            The whole Indy thing is becoming a mass of contradictions.
            The fishermen and the industry at large want to be freed from the shackles of the CFP.
            This report explains 4 possible scenarios, 3 of which suggest that Brexit would be good for the industry, one of which shows a slight downturn depending on circumstances.
            And of course Fergus Ewing focuses on that!
            Quite astounding.

  1. John S Warren says:

    For those who believe that fishing has been badly treated by the EU, I leave this informed critical review from someone who actually understands this issue, and isn’t the representative of a narrow interest group within an interest group: John Lichfield, ‘Ukip is wrong: British fishing answers to Westminster not Brussels’ (Guardian, 6th April, 2018)


    Just to complete the picture, there is Graeme Goodall, Bella Caledonia ‘On Scottish Fishing’, 3rd April, 2018:


    These two articles together provide illuminating analysis of the issues. Alternatively you can just read the inarticulate, repetitive, bumbling ramblings of ill-informed commenters who just pick up the tropes of manipulative tabloids. Read and compare. The choice is yours.

  2. Jamsie says:

    Ah the pompous one intervenes to save the article from attack.
    And Mr Ed supports him.
    How reassuring Indy has such stalwarts who will see off anyone who questions the cause.
    You couldn’t make this up.
    This is nearly as bad as wee Nicola’s two car crash interviews today but guess what ….. she was not to blame.
    It was those bad ingerlish press types asking her nasty questions and not paying her the slavishly respect she gets up here from her salivating following.
    So the question is … again….is the report prepared by Marine Scotland who are controlled by and part of the Scottish Government factually incorrect?
    I am not asking what other people think.

    1. John S Warren says:

      “I am not asking what other people think”.

      Introduced as if a heroic independence of thought; but let me see; no, actually it is just a particularly bad bout of narcissistic solipsism. Try turning the mirror to the wall. Enjoy.

    2. Jamsie says:

      I suppose the next question is how many government controlled organisations have completed reviews and provided feed back on their view of the outcome of Brexit which do not concur with the SNP line?
      And how many of these are being or have been suppressed?

      1. John S Warren says:

        Let me make this quite clear. I do not represent the SNP line, nor is it my purpose to do so. Anyone who actually read what I write would understand that. So it does not concern me whether anything is ‘for’ or ‘against’ an SNP position. It doesn’t interest me. I am only interested in sound policy for Scotland, whatever solution is acceptable to the Scottish people; but the ‘status quo ante’ will not do. I am also pro-EU, but do not doubt Scotland may require to leave the EU, because the UK can probably force us out. That simply makes the limited options narrower around, and for, independence; that is actually obvious as we stare down the barrel of Brexit, and a UK Brexiteer Government fighting itself and the civil service. This is utterly chaotic and they literally ‘know not what they do’.

        You, however, are a complete waste of time: boring, repetitive, indulging in your endless, personalised, utterly vacuous ad hominem attacks on “wee Nicola”, “they lost the referendum”, “they don’t get it” and the hysterical, exaggerated descriptions of SNP political failure (nobody is interested in the SNP). These are simply mindlessly empty activities in the hope something of the sense of failure will ‘stick’ to the SNP. As serious debate it is pathetic.

        You are like a comedian with bad material. I now do not bother reading it at all (you attach youself to countless commenters, like a virus), or I now stop at the first “wee Nicola” drivel. Find some new material, have the courage to come out from behind your snivelling pseudonym, and maybe – but only maybe – you would be worth wasting more time on. Meanwhile, I have lost interest; your comments are literally a waste of space. The floor is now yours – cover it in rubbish by all means. I will not be back on this thread.

  3. Jamsie says:

    As I said the whole Indy thing is made up of massive contradiction.
    The great JSW who does not represent the SNP line ( and anyone who says he does will not be spoken to ever again ) is only interested in sound policy for Scotland, whatever solution is acceptable to the Scottish people except if the Scottish people decide as they did previously to reject independence and to remain part of the UK.
    Now I don’t really care if wee Nicola believes that Nessie is real or that she does not know how much it will cost to become independent but I do care if she like the great JSW chooses to ignore the solution voted for by the Scottish people as if she somehow knows better.
    One man one vote and the majority carries the day.
    And if it is to be a once in a generation vote to live up to that rather than invent ways of challenging the outcome.
    Nothing could be fairer.

    1. Kenny Smith says:

      That’s it Jamsie your work is done I have now seen the light and will never support independence ever again. Why did I ever question the union and it’s greatness. If only more of us could be turned but I’m sure if anyone can do it, it will be you. Thank God for Jamsie, just a ordinary concerned citizen from the Glasgow slums who isn’t on the payroll of mi5 or Scotland in union that loves and takes such pride in his country.

  4. Wul says:

    Anyone who is interested in the future well being of UK citizens would do well to read Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine”.

    She gives numerous examples of the way neo-liberal outriders prepare the way for a country to be stripped of its assets and its people placed under suppression and serfdom; a deep crisis happens (hurricane, tsunami, pandemic) or is encouraged (revolution, political collapse, civil war, economic upheaval).

    Into the resulting chaos, numerous “emergency” measures are rushed into place:
    slashing of public spending, privatisation of state assets and services, abandonment of labour laws, destruction of unions, scapegoating of minorities, withdrawal of public health programmes, corporate control of media, massive increase of police powers, reduction of civil liberties, violent suppression of dissent.

    The country is then ready to be plundered and it’s citizens told that “There is No Alternative” and that a temporary period of extreme pain is necessary to get things back on a strong & stable footing. Its wealth is stripped, banked and moved offshore.

    The UK is, in my opinion, being prepared for plunder. I can foresee the NHS shortly being in such deep “crisis” that it can only be “saved” by a programme of privatisation facilitated by our new pals in the USA.

    There isn’t a “just keep things the same” option any more.

    1. The Rules of Chaos says:

      Naomi Shock – first thing that came into my head after reading this –

      “He’d go in bloody hard … There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere. It’s a very, very good thought.”

      He must have read the book and thought – ‘damned good idea. That chap Milton Friedman was a hero, born to save us from the lesser/feckless people.’

  5. w.b.robertson says:

    dangerous to mock Boris. He might just have a point. Any good experienced old fashioned trade union negotiator would have handled Brexit better. Instead the UK team has allowed Mr Barnier to make all the running. Might be too late to recover the situation unless the UK side starts playing hard ball – and threatens to walk off withholding the cash.

    1. William Low says:

      Any good trade union negotiator would have had a plan. Strategy based on, where are we now, where do we want to be, with what can we trade, what is the ideal and what is the point below which we will not settle. They would also have considered the position of the opposition, knowing that achieving a win/win is much healthier, as win/lose in the long run leads to lose/lose.

      Mr Barmier has made all the running because the British government had no plan, did not know what it wanted and failed to consider all of the consequences. Of course much of this goes back to Cameron and Osborne and their fatal lack of planning over the referendum.


      1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

        Is that a Freudian slip in the nomenclature of the EU negotiator?. Might it not be more appropriately applied to his UK counterpart?

  6. GMK says:

    So why can’t unemployed UK citizens work on fruit farms?

    1. We could tis true – but the pays shit and we’ve so divorced ourselves from the land and from where our food comes from that it seems impossible and has very low status. We would need a complete cultural overturn within a few months to get a crop in.

      1. GMK says:

        A sad state of affairs when we need “a complete cultural overturn” before people will go out to work rather than live in benefits.

        Is it a good thing that the benefits system discourages the native population from taking on jobs like picking fruit which leads on to the short term need for immigrant workers?

        Is it somewhat racist to imply that picking fruit is beneath Scottish/British citizens but that it is acceptable to ship in Eastern Europeans to do these jobs?

        1. Barakabe says:

          I think the reality is much more pragmatic than that: bourgeois ideals of Protestant thrift and self reliance are moot points when you live a day-to-day existence on the margins of places like Castlemilk or Easterhouse. If it’s more practical, from a financial perspective, to be on benefits (help with rent, utilities, food banks etc) compared with being worse off and in low paid work as a fruit picker- and you may have children to provide for or other pressing needs- then no amount of self worth in your own thriftiness is going to feed your children or put a roof over your head. Benefits for most people are most often the best case worse scenario for those whose alternative is shit money in a job with no rights or contract attached to it such as holiday or sick pay etc. This is the reality for millions of people in UKania now. The older generation voted for it, now they must live with the consequences of empowering the monetarist barabarians.

      2. florian albert says:

        You refer to ‘shit’ pay for those working gathering fruit. Yet, presumably, these shit wages pay the minimum wage. We could, as a society, have a higher minimum wage. We choose not to.
        That there is a problem getting people, especially Scots, to do this work, has been known for decades.

        There is a wider issue. The Swiss writer, Max Frisch, said about immigrants to his country; ‘we wanted workers and we got people.’
        Those workers, who turn out to be people, come to gather fruit. They are likely to notice that most people in Scotland, including immigrants, may work for shit (national minimum) wages but they have better working conditions and housing than those doing the farm work they have arrived in Scotland to do.
        Entirely understandably, they move on to something better – even if better is still not great by Scottish middle class standards.
        Then, of course, we bring in more fruit pickers. If Poles wont do it, let’s go for Romanians. If they wont do it, let’s try somewhere else.
        Of course, the alternative is to look at the root cause; shit pay and working conditions.

  7. Jamsie says:


    I suspect wee Nicola did not want this released or perhaps it is another part of the build up to her saying “we cannot have another referendum as we cannot win”.

    She has started the ball rolling.

    I wonder how long it will take for her to start blaming the monetary policies being debated!

    1. Topher Dawson says:

      Jamsie I looked at the link you supplied, and the executive summary says:

      “….The research findings suggest that Scottish and UK seafood output would benefit from continued free trade. The introduction of tariffs and non-tariff measures relative to the status quo would have negative impacts on both UK and EU output and trade flows…..”

      Continued free trade with the EU is what we are about to lose, that was what we were in the EU for. The “negative impacts” are what we are going to get when tariffs and other measures are introduced. In short this report is saying in cautious civil servant speak that Brexit is going to be a bad idea.

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