Gill vows to fight NFU leadership bid
By Alistair Driver and Adrienne Francis
BEN Gill is fighting for his job as National Farmers Union president after vice-president Michael Paske refused to rule out a leadership challenge.
The Derbyshire NFU branch nominated union Mr Paske to stand against Mr Gill in the unions presidential elections which take place next February.
Mr Paske, a Lincolnshire vegetable grower, said: “Im very flattered that they should nominate me. I will just have to consider my position carefully.”
Mr Gill became the NFUs first sitting president to be challenged for the presidency before being re-elected to the post two years ago.
But his leadership has come under intense scrutiny during foot-and-mouth.
Mr Gill supported the widespread cull of livestock and effectively vetoed Prime Minister Tony Blairs plans to introduce vaccination.
He succeeded in getting government help for livestock farmers, but subsequently failed to secure 57m in support aid for arable growers.
However, Mr Gill is likely to be nominated for a third two-year term by a number of county branches, including his home branch York.
Asked whether he would accept the nominations, Mr Gill told Farmers Weekly: “My name will be going forward.”
Nevertheless, support for Mr Gill is split.
Sheila King of Brookfield Farm, Coventry, said: “I can remember watching him on TV and he was nearly crying. He really cared and he did his best.”
But Derbyshire farmer Philip Brandon said: “Bens done a great job in a very difficult time, but hes been a bit too cosy with the government.”
Mr Paske may yet find himself out of a job. Kent arable farmer Jonathan Tipples said he would challenge Mr Paskes position as vice-president.
Mr Tipples said: “I think we need a fresh face and we need to be harder when we are talking to the government.”
Leicestershire farmer Rad Thomas said he was considering standing for vice- or deputy-president.
- Momentum grows to oust Ben Gill, FWi, 30 November, 2001
- Gill may face leadership challenge, FWi, 26 November 2001
- Gill re-elected as NFU chief, FWi, 2 February, 2000
- Union members demand postal vote, FWi, 28 January, 2000