26 November 2001
Gill may face leadership challenge

By Adrienne Francis

BEN GILL may be challenged for the leadership of the National Farmers Union next February, it emerged on Monday (26 November).

NFU vice-president Michael Paske has confirmed that he is deciding whether to stand against Mr Gill in a leadership contest for president.

Mr Paske, a speciality vegetable grower from Lincolnshire, was asked to stand against Mr Gill by the Derbyshire branch of the union.

“Im very flattered that they should nominate me; it was very kind of them,” he told FWi.”I will just have to consider my position carefully.”

Mr Paske, who has until 8 January to decide whether to stand, said it was “very early days” and he would wait until making a declaration.

Derbyshire NFU chairman Kevin White said many younger union members preferred Mr Paske. But he declined to predict the outcome of any election.

Mr Gill has been NFU president for almost four years. But Philip Brandon, a member of Derbyshire NFU, said it was time for a change in leadership.

“Bens done a great job in a very difficult time, but hes been a bit too cosy with the government,” he said.

“We need a more proactive approach, as we have been pussyfooting around for so long now and the supermarkets are only getting worse.

“But Michael Paske is an ambitious politician and a diplomat, capable of conversing with [Prime Minister] Tony Blair.”

Clive Langford Mycock, of Staffordshire NFU branch, predicted his county would support Ben Gill. It will select candidates on 6 December.

Alan Roberts, NFU company secretary, must receive written submissions for the next AGM election by the 8 January, 2001.