I read a quote showing great insight from Sir Richard Branson the other day: “Money is like manure; if you let it pile up it starts to stink, but if you spread it around then it can do a lot of good.” I think this quote encapsulates most of the ills that are patently obvious in every branch of the civil service, where ability to squander money, in increasingly imaginative ways, makes the mind boggle. This money has not been earned, it has been given.

Take the NHS, for example: I have sympathy with the junior doctors, who on a daily basis have to work with agency doctors and nurses, some of whom cost the NHS £3,500 per shift. This must do wonders for their morale. I would suggest that all agencies be banned, for it is they who are creaming vast amounts of cash from the taxpayer, and the money saved could be used to pay for more full time medical staff and indeed pay the existing ones more per hour. This would even sort out the mess Jeremy Hunt currently finds himself in.

Other recent headlines include “Redundant NHS staff retired in £92 million farce” and these are mostly so called NHS executives. But the headline that really takes the biscuit is: “Drug companies paying more than 140 NHS staff whose responsibility it is to assess which drugs should be recommended and procured for patient treatment.” Now, in terms of manure, this really stinks. It transpires that drug companies spend £40 million per year on bribing, wining and dining these scumbags, who are probably already on an inflated salary and some of whom are paid £1,250 per day advising drug companies on how to sell products to the NHS. This £40 million would be sufficient to supply 266,666 vaccines to prevent children getting meningitis and probably double or treble that number if anybody with half a brain renegotiated the price. I suggest Jeremy Hunt invites Tesco to reorganise the NHS procurement system as they seem to have the innate capability of screwing their producers to the floor.

Further evidence of the profligacy of our civil servants is an immigration centre likened to a country house hotel, which cost the Home Office £6.4 million in a year, yet only housed 62 people. This centre was required to be fully staffed even when it was empty and contained a computer room, library, TV Lounge, café and multiple play areas. Does any single person in whitehall have a clue as to the value of one pound sterling? I very much doubt it. They are only there for the ride and their inflation proof pension.

Least you feel I am unfairly having a pop at our own government, it is worth reminding ourselves that of the £23 billion given away by the twits in Brussels for development aid, only half of it has any effect at all. For example, in Nigeria, much of the £26.8 million earmarked to combat corruption cannot be handed over for fear of corruption! £954 million was sent to three Middle Eastern countries which are now a source of mass immigration to the European Union. The UK continues to fund 11.8% of the total EU budget.

On matters more parochial, I think Cameron is making an absolute pigs ear of persuading us to stay in the EU. My heart says go, my head doesn’t know. Before those of us involved in keeping Britain a green and pleasant land place our cross, should we not know emphatically what will happen to our support system and also to our fisheries, if we vote to leave the EU.

On my personal farming front, it has been quite a decent winter up to now. Most of my winter keep is available until the end of March and is holding up quite well. The 119 ewe tegs look quite decent and against management’s wishes I recently purchased a pen of in-lamb Kent ewes which looked value on the day, and provided they lamb without too many problems should add a little to my monthly pension! But let us not get carried away – the end of February is only halfway through the winter.