Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Nick Clegg backs badger cull

Relying on the Shropshire Star for the bulk of my news has its compensations. One of them is coming across fascinating stories like this.

When he was in the county the other day, Nick Clegg met the Star's rural affairs editor. His contributions are not among my favourite on the paper's website. They are a milder version of the absurd Muckspreader column in Private Eye, where anyone who questions the right of the farming interest to be given huge amounts of public money is ridiculed.

Anyway, this piece is reasonably supportive of Nick and the Liberal Democrats. What struck me was this section:
And then came TB, with the farmers pushing for trials to see whether a pilot badger cull would prevent the crisis.

“Everyone seems to be up in arms about a badger being culled but what they don’t realise is that we are culling cows all the time,” Arthur added.

Mr Clegg agreed, despite admitting that it wouldn’t go down well with a lot of people in his party.

“We are completely open to these trials. You are right - Britain’s fascination with animals is curious to say the least. But this issue needs to go forward, even though plenty of people in the Liberal Democrats do not like this position.”
I do not know if culling badgers to prevent bovine TB is good science, but I am sure that it is bad politics. It may play well go down well in a few rural constituencies, but it will go down very badly in many more urban and suburban seats. Like Sheffield Hallam, for instance.

This feels very much like a return to the 1970s, when the old Liberal Party's fortunes depended on clinging on to a handful of seats where the farming interest was strong. I thought we had all moved on since then.

And why is "Britain’s fascination with animals ... curious to say the least"? I should say that it is a settled part of our national character and one of the more appealing parts at that. What does Nick propose to put in its place and how does he intend to go about it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find it difficult to believe that a national politician could be as ignorant of the issues as this. Doesn't Nick Clegg know that in Northern Ireland they have cut bovine TB by testing cattle, without killing a single badger. While in Southern Ireland they have exterminated badgers over large areas of countryside while the TB rate in their herd has increased out of control.

Culling badgers is bad politics, bad science, bad economics and bad farming.