Monty Don’s plan for ‘mass political movement’ laid bare

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Monty Don is the face of the BBC’s flagship gardening programme, Gardeners’ World. For 17 years, Monty has delivered Britons the gardening goods directly to their living rooms or wherever a television screen might be. In 2011 he began to present the programme from the comfort of his own home – a sprawling Herefordshire abode complete with acres of land, a playground for both Monty and Gardeners’ World.

Not one to shy away from an intense workload, Monty took on the role of lead Chelsea Flower Show presenter in 2014.

This year, however, his job there was cut short as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

He did manage to present a slew of shows from home, but it was nothing on the previous six years of flamboyant displays and sophistication viewers have grown accustomed to seeing.

Monty is not so much known for his involvement in current affairs and politics as he is for his gardening.

This hasn’t stopped him from blurring the lines between the three.

Twice has he appeared on the BBC’s Question Time.

And, during his seven-year tenure as president of the Soil Association, he met Cabinet ministers and spoke before Parliamentary committees.

In 2009, Monty, just a year after he had suffered a mini-stroke, spoke to The Guardian.

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It was here that the gardener revealed his plan to plot something of a horticultural-political revolution in Westminster – his goal to metamorphose politicians into “honest” human beings.

Discussing his cunning plan, The Guardian’s Kate Kellaway explained: “He wants people to feel ‘empowered’ to grow and cook their own food, whether they are tending a small pot of basil or a mighty estate.

“He would like the Soil Association to become ‘a mass movement that can keep corporate agribusiness and politicians honest’.”

It wasn’t the first time Monty has drawn up ideas to push horticulture onto the Government’s agenda.

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In 2016, he told Radio Times how he longed for the halcyon days of green spaces in and around cities.

He condemned the Government for ignoring the need for public green spaces in built-up areas through a poor public transport system, among other things.

He said: “Our urban areas are obviously less green than 20 years ago, because more people and cars are taking up the space.

“When I lived in London in the Eighties, perhaps two houses on my street had made their front garden into a driveway.

“Most households had one car, and twentysomethings weren’t living back with their parents, unable to afford anything else.

“Front gardens are a shared public space, part of the street.

“If a car is parked there, it’s simply a place we arrive at and depart from, not where we stay.

“That’s a real shame.

“It’s a price we pay for the society we want.

“The only way around it is to reduce the number of cars, therefore better public transport infrastructure would improve front gardens.

“We must use more brownfield sites, and it’s not beyond the wit of design to construct newbuilds to accommodate gardens and cars.”

Monty has since retired, perhaps briefly, from his political endeavours.

He does, however, remain astute in his opinion that Britain would be better with more greenery in it.

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