No Labour minister ever looks good in wellies, but Margaret Beckett in her recent interview with The Grocer seems set to try them for size in the months ahead. The control freaks in Millbank like her sure touch and her direct, no-nonsense approach. This makes her decision not to hold a full public inquiry into foot and mouth all the more baffling, especially as the blame could have been openly heaped on her predecessors, leaving herself smelling of roses. I predict she will come to regret making that decision. Her wisest move so far has been to leave the detailed talking on food issues to Elliott Morley and Lord Whitty. They may not be high fliers, but without them Labour's credibility on agriculture would be approximately zero. We shall be watching Mrs Beckett's promised "closer approach to food and farming" with special interest. Moving on to the Opposition. What Opposition? I hear you cry, and you would be right. Truly, the performance of the Conservatives has been woeful. While other Tories ­ Oliver Letwin, Dr Liam Fox, even IDS himself ­ are trying their best to sound vaguely electable by not repeating past mistakes, we have heard nothing new from the shadow DEFRA team. In fact, we have heard precious little at all from Mr Ainsworth who appears to be adopting an even lower profile than he did as shadow secretary for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport ­ difficult in anybody's book. My advice to him is to say something, make it sound original if at all possible, and remember that consumers outnumber producers as voters. If the Conservatives cannot win on agriculture, they are in more trouble than we are led to believe. {{NEWS }}