Monday, March 28, 2005

Environment questions

I have been away in Aberdeenshire over Easter - hence the lack of posts over the holiday. Here is Good Friday's House Points column from Liberal Democrat News.

Do crows vote Labour?

Last Thursday Margaret Beckett was holed up in Breadsall Priory near Derby with the other G8 environment ministers. She was surrounded by a thousand police officers from 23 different forces, an eight-foot double fence and an exclusion zone for the public and protestors. All this at a cost of £2m.

Meanwhile at Westminster, Ben Bradshaw had taken her place. This former BBC radio reporter and hyperloyal Blairite has been making a splash as the minister for fish. Today, as a reward, he was in charge of the fowls of the air, the beasts of the earth and everything that crawls upon its belly too. He is such a toady they had put him in charge of the toads.

Our own Alistair Carmichael was one of his first questioners, referring to a headline about “Monks Scandal”. Dark doings in a Shetland monastery? Sadly, it turned out to come from Fishing News and refer to the depredations of Spanish trawlers.

According to Bradshaw, it was all the Tories’ fault and the thinking monkfish should vote Labour. But then for Bradshaw it will always be 1997. He still lives in that sunny world where everyone adores Tony Blair and is grateful for the removal of the Conservatives. Next on his list of people of who should love New Labour were the nephrops fishermen of the West of Scotland.

Then came Henry Bellingham who, a true Tory, was interested in killing animals. He asked about recent government guidelines on controlling pigeons and corvids. (Nephrops? Corvids? You learn a lot of new words at environment, food and rural affairs questions.)

These guidelines said that no one should shoot crows without first giving them 14 days’ written notice and the offer of counselling. (I paraphrase.) They were quickly withdrawn when everyone said they were unworkable. An embarrassment for Bradshaw? Not at all. It was merely a case of unfortunate wording and every crow should vote Labour too.

Even the import of bush meat turned out to be a reason for the animal kingdom to stay on message. There are now nine more sniffer dogs employed at airports than there were under the Tories. Soon there will be ten.

And Margaret Beckett? Despite all those precautions she eventually got out.

No comments: