1. Hearts and Minds

    After the Governments debacle over the proposed pilot badger cull that was due to take place in the Autumn of 2012. It was not a surprise to me for I expected this misconceived idea to grind to a halt somewhere down the line; I was somewhat amazed, however, when the train became derailed before it left the station.

    This was due not only to the deluge of public opinion that has been gaining momentum against the badger cull, or due to public safety concerns that would have undoubtedly arisen once the first shots were fired. Apparently it was due to the high numbers of badgers that would outnumber the guns that were allocated to perform the slaughter.

    That same year, 2012, during the run up to the cull, I heard it said by the pro-cull lobby, that badger populations were unhealthy due to tuberculosis and lack of habitat and that the species would benefit from a cull.

    This just goes to show how the propaganda drifts like the shifting sands and according to the wind direction. A species can’t be impoverished and sickly on the one hand and have burgeoning, healthily, newly establishing numbers on the other.

    It seems to me that badgers are a success story, and why shouldn’t they be, they have survived on these islands for thousands of years and long before we had intensive livestock production.

    Where do we go from here? This is where the real battle begins; the spoils of this particular war are going to be the hearts and minds of public opinion.

    Already the badger cull pilots have lost the confidence within the House of Commons. An overwhelming vote against the cull, backed by the Governments own scientific data, gained a reprieve for the nonsensical policy of a Pilot Badger Cull.

    Unfortunately this is not the end. This coalition Government intends to continue with their course of action and not bow to public opinion; or the majority of its members; or the science that stands firmly against it.

    This coalition government will be fighting determinedly over the coming weeks in order to implement the badger cull this summer.

    The near annihilation of the badger population in some of our most rural counties is one of their flagship policies and if implemented will open the door to a more aggressive approach to the countryside and our environment.

    The next step along this road will be the repealing of the law against fox hunting. The general public are already being manipulated into thinking that this is a beneficial thing.

    Step two: Will be opening the door to Genetically Modified crops without public consultation. These are already here in cattle feed. They entered the food chain without the knowledge of the majority of people who eat meat or drink milk.

    Step three: Flying in the face of science once again, with their lack of commitment in the immediate banning of Neonicotinoid chemicals that could well be reducing the numbers of our pollinating insects.

    Our bees and pollinators are on their knees and fighting for survival, but still this Coalition Government needs more proof and more time to decide on appropriate action.

    And Step Four: This is probably the most undermining to our future society of all.

    The removing of Environmental studies from the National Curriculum.

    If a Government wishes to control the environment then the very last thing that it needs is a culture of Environmentalism.

    Social Awareness; Countryside Appreciation and the vision of equality for all people around the Globe, is spawned at a young age; to deny this in our schools, where urbanism pervades, is tantamount to intellectual and spiritual starvation.

    All the while they will use the same spurious arguments; selective science and bolstered up with propaganda to enable these ends to be met.

    The proposed Badger Cull that is due to take place at any time from June 1st is the next step along this road. Once the first shots of this legalised barbarism are fired, then the other policies will fall behind like an advancing army. The only thing that will bring them down is a General Election but during this time their policies will wreak havoc and our countryside will probably be irrevocably altered, for the worst!

    Culling badgers will, through perturbation, make the problem of bovine tb more likely to increase. Also some of the healthiest badgers will be those that are shot and wounded, leaving the older and less robust ones to form a lack lustre breeding nucleus to repopulate the future generations.

    Team Badger and all the plethora of animal charities will be opposing the badger cull by lobbying equally as vociferously in their attempt to sway judgement in the direction of a more humane approach to the bovine tb dilemma.

    The problem here, from their view point, is how to engage with the public, many of which do not have an informed opinion on how the food reaches their plate. Only 1% of the UK population is directly engaged in the fishing and farming industry.

    So the polarisation begins. There are those who would run roughshod over the environment with the misguided view that we can exploit nature in order to produce our food.

    Vegans and vegetarians will be putting their points forward too, they would suggest that we would be better placed to give up milk and meat altogether and rely on plant proteins.

    I would say this: We would miss a wonderful opportunity of being able to engage with our countryside, show our humanity in the way that we treat our livestock and to make use of the most prolific crop on earth, that being grass!

    My part in all this is one of being an independent lobbyist in my attempt to inform the public at every opportunity and engage with the industry in order to pursue a more holistic approach to the problem of bovine tb.

    Cattle Vaccination must be the way forward but to rely on this alone would be a complete folly, because this Coalition will not push it through during their tenancy in Government.

    Badger vaccination is here now. Teams of volunteers are getting themselves trained up and ready to join or form their own organisations in order to take the British Badger off the Hit List.

    Still this Government, led by David Cameron, Owen Paterson and David Heath will not listen. They won’t listen to the Science; to their own MP’s or the British Public; but this is where a sea change can come about.

    There is a Government Petition that can rock their seemingly unshakable resolve.

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257

    If you sign this you are not just protecting Badgers, you are speaking up for the very fabric of what makes us British. You’re standing up to a force that would run roughshod over our environment, our education, our wildlife and our welfare system which has long been a beacon to the world.

    There is an even better way of changing Government policy.

    We as consumers hold the key that can unlock the kind of compassion toward our environment that we desire for ourselves and that of our children. Farmers have not got a monopoly on our countryside, it belongs to us all. We will demand, through our purchasing power, the standards of welfare and quality of food that we desire from our farmers.

    Quality food has a price, but that price may become indefensible if the sensibilities of the consumer are ignored!