Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Well, I’m badgered!

Mr Brock has received a stay of execution. At the last minute – just as the guns were about to fire - the government has announced it will delay its planned cull of badgers in England until next summer.

The Conservative Secretary of State, Owen Paterson said the cull "should have begun earlier this summer but had been delayed until after the Olympics and Paralympics, with recent bad weather also hampering preparations.”

Well, I have to say that the badgers were as surprised as me to learn these reasons. Were Mr Paterson’s ‘trained marksmen’ all competing in the pentathlon and shooting events? Were G4S meant to be making the security arrangements for them? Were the badgers all taking part in some Olympian underground event that the media failed to report?

The truth is that proposed cull is scientifically unjustified and the government's handling of the badger cull is simply incompetent and shambolic.  I’ve been telling the government for the last two years that a cull would be bad for farmers, bad for taxpayers, bad for wildlife and, most obviously, bad for badgers.

I’m not alone.

Professor Lord John Krebs, the Government’s own Chief Scientific Adviser and who led the 10 year trial of badger culling says  "The scientific case is as clear as it can be: this cull is not the answer to TB in cattle. The government is cherry-picking bits of data to support its case."

And Professor Lord Robert May, a former government chief scientist and president of the Royal Society says "It is very clear to me that the government's policy does not make sense."
As RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant now says "We welcome this postponement, but this must not be a temporary reprieve, but must mark an end to all cull plans. Science, the public and MPs from all parties had said very clearly that a cull is no answer to bovine TB."

The cull’s postponement is just the latest episode in David Cameron’s omni-shambles. Why doesn’t he do the right thing for once and just permanently cancel the cull?