This pic is of Hillary Wedgewood-Benn, MP our Minister for (some) Animal's Health, when he addressed the NFU conference a year ago.
Despite continuing carnage, his prevarication has not altered one iota, his stance rigidly against a policy which involves tackling badgerTB in its host species. This week's Farmers Guardian offers a thumbnail sketch of the current government's track record on disease control, tracing its cattle casualties of consistant non-policy from 6000 to 40,000 slaughtered per year, over the last decade.
"If there is a single issue that has defined farming’s uneasy relationship with the current Government, it is badgers and bovine TB."
But what of junior Ministerial colleagues, many of whom have openly disagreed with Benn and his numerous predecessors?
The political equivalent of a gulag in outer Siberia awaits dissenters:
"Ministers who felt differently either got nowhere while in office, in the case of Jeff Rooker, or only felt able to speak out afterwards, in the cases of Nick Brown or Jane Kennedy".What a crazy, expensive, reckless and futile waste of time. But would any other administration be any different? This site was started with the posting of 500 PQs, which were lobbed in the direction of the ever obedient MP for Exeter, and then junior Minister of (some) Animal's Health, baby-Ben Bradshaw, who followed his masters voice, to the letter. And is now Minister for something else.
Many farmers are hanging their hats on the words of Benn's shadow minister in the Conservative party, Jim Paice, MP.
At least Mr. Paice was prepared to forsake the Westminister bubble, and get his wellies muddy. He explored some
Unusually for a politician, there have been some recent clear, unambiguous statements by senior Tory figures, including leader David Cameron and Shadow Defra Secretary Nick Herbert, committing the party to a badger cull.
Farmers Guardian takes up the story:
In a sign of how seriously the party is now taking the issue, veteran Shadow Agriculture Minister Jim Paice has been given the task of developing a detailed badger culling policy for England, so a new Tory Government can hit the ground running.
“We would hopefully get on with it almost immediately,” Mr Paice says. “I really do not want this hanging about any longer. Twelve years ago, 3,000 animals were being culled. It has now rocketed to over 40,000 and the Government has just sat idly by and done nothing."
And in this pledge, he is backed by the Liberal Democrats who accuse Defra of shamelessly 'ducking the issue' and say;
A limited badger cull is necessary and the science does justify it. The reality is badgers are reservoirs of TB, we need to tackle them and the way is through a targeted cull in south west England.
We have been heard to remark that if a politician's lips are moving, he is lying. But, and it's a big but, the recent love affair this country has had with its financial services industry, which has now landed any administration with huge debts as this sector is bailed out, will inevitably mean some serious pruning of costs. And the sheer weight of unecessary cattle slaughter and it's knock effect on imports, and thus the balance of payments deficit, may just ring a few bells - somewhere. Maybe. Or, an MP's constituent may bang on his office door with a wake up call about a dead cat, dog, or alpaca. And demand some answers as to just where their pet acquired this disease from, and what is he / she going to do about it?