I try really hard to not get political on this blog. I have my occassional rant, but I try to be fairly politically neutral even then. So if you don’t want to see that trend spoiled, look away now…
Still here? Okay…
Back in May I was more than willing to give Liz Truss a chance. Her predecessor, Owen Patterson, had been an absolute disaster as Environment Secretary and it could at least be hoped that she would bring in a new era. An era where decisions within a department were made based on facts and evidence, not the whims of financial supporters. Sadly, such hopes have been burned away.
Today it was announced that the controversial badger cull will be extended into Dorset. This is an egregiously dishonest decision. A couple of years ago we could, if we were feeling charitable, at least say the government were testing the waters. We maybe didn’t all agree with the decision to run a trial that had already been shown to fail. But they put all the right conditions and safeguards in place. Independent monitors, and a commitment to only proceed if it was shown to be safe and effective. Not my choice, but reasonable.
It has been shown to be neither. The independent monitoring concluded it was not effective for reducing TB, it was not humane, it was not safe, it was not reliable, it was not cost-effective. The reaction to this report? The government ploughed on, and removed the independent monitoring. After all, what’s the use of independent monitoring if it doesn’t say what you want it to?
So we got a second year, and it was yet another failure, at least as far as could be gleaned from the now secret trials (and let’s be clear, secrecy is the opponent of good science here).
Yet here we are with a third year, and even an expansion. This ha snow gone beyond reasonable disagreement into sheer, bloody-mindedness and outright dishonesty. We were told there would be no continuation or expansion unless strict conditions were met. They were not. Yet on we go.
The government have now lost the support of every relevant body, bar one. The National Farmers Union still back it. Every professional body with an understanding of the relevant science, every professional body with an understanding of biology or veterinary standards, has now said this cull is wrong. Why?
Let’s be quite clear, this cull will not make a dent in the bTB issue. It will not help farmers. I have friends who are farmers, including some who have been hit by bTB. My heart breaks that they are being failed by their government and their Union. As is wildlife in the UK, and the electorate.Opposition is not because badgers look cute and fluffy, and anyone claiming otherwise is a liar, plain and simple.
There are a growing number of farmers that understand this. Random free-shooting was always, pardon the pun, a wild shot in the dark. It was never likely to meet the conditions necessary to guarantee an effective cull. The trial has only confirmed this. So why continue, and expand?
There is only one conclusion left to draw. Faced with the alternative of admitting that the solutions are long and hard, and require change across Europe, the government and the NFU have opted for the pretence of action. They know they are engaged in a course of action that will not help matters. Yet they hope to pull the wool over the eyes of an electorate and their paying members. Who cares if badgers die unnecessarily and our money gets wasted?
The reality now is that this will only stop two ways:
- The farmers that disagree with this action, who get that this may very well make things worse, can stand up and oppose their own union. The NFU will back off as soon as t is clear their membership sees through their deception.
- There is a strong legal challenge through the courts that exposes the central lie Liz Truss and George Eustice have been happy to peddle, namely that this was ever really about badger welfare.
This cull is about money. It doesn’t matter that the action being taken is hideously wasteful with public money, that it is an expenditure massively disproportionate to the impact. Because the key is that certain landowners are not being stung as badly in their own wallets, leaving plenty free to back the Tory party.
This cull is about senior members of the Conservative Party making their friends feel valued. Nothing more. It is an utter disgrace.