brian's soapbox
     
APRIL 2013

EXPERT OPINION - LETTERS

 

As always, the opinions expressed in these pages are purely and personally those of myself, Brian; they are not the official views of Queen, or of any other organisation or individual.

Reference:
- Lame Claims
- Stereo and Freeview Notes

 

 

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BRI'S SOAPBOX

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**Tue 30 Apr 13**
OLIVIERS
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Love the suit - Brian and Anita
Photographer: Ben A Pruchnie

Bri - very Daniel Craig in Chester Barrie outfit.

Anita - very Joan Crawford in Faux Fur.

Bri

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**Sun 28 Apr 13**
THE VOICE
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Sorry – hate to be negative – but I have to say this.

In my opinion, "The Voice" is absolutely the dullest, dumbest, most depressing programme on TV. It's also the ultimate insult to music and to performers.

Every time I catch a glimpse of young singers busting their guts trying to win somebody's attention, who is rudely sitting with their back to the singer … I feel sick.

It brings singing down to the level of a stupid obstacle course on 'It's A Knockout'. This is not – NOT – what music is about.

When we sing, or play, for real, we are NOT screaming at the top of our lungs trying to persuade someone to notice us. We have messages, we have subtle emotions, we have beauty, which can only be shared by a performer in front of an audience whose whole attention is already freely given. The performance is all about EVERYTHING the performer gives … in voice, in sound, in body language, in facial expression, in intimate eye contact. This stupid, stupid idea that someone can JUDGE a singer by turning his back on him, and missing out on proper contact, is, to me, a fatuous nonsense. And actually poisonous to the growth of young performers.

I hate seeing the great Tom Jones shoehorned into this scenario … it seems to deprive everyone who takes part of their dignity.

I hope this vile programme dies a natural death very soon.

Bri

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**Sat 27 Apr 13**
GET 'YOUR' LOCAL SHOP TO DO SOMETHING GREAT?
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Can you get YOUR local cafe to do something great like this?

Get your cafe to do this
The shop that the Badger sign is outside is a cosmetic shop.
It is their branch in South Molton Street.
https://www.lush.co.uk
Pam

THANKS !!

Bri

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**Sat 27 Apr 13**
IS THIS MAN BORED? OR SCARED?!
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Mr Paterson also told journalists in New Zealand that there was "massive complacency" in the UK over the issue and insisted "The world isn't like The Wind in the Willows".  Read more: http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Environment-minister-Owen-Paterson-bored-high/story-18804162-detail/story.html#ixzz2RiiPEDxJ  Follow us: @thisiscornwall on Twitter | thisiscornwall on Facebook

THIS IS CORNWALL- 25 April 2013

I don't think I need to comment on this. Somehow his eyes say it all !

Brian

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**Fri 26 Apr 13**
CHIARA'S FINE WORK
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200,000 signatures

Thank you Chiara for this fine illustration … an inspiration !

We thunder on. I'm amazed at the massive surge in Petition numbers. Our Team are doing a great job of spreading awareness out there.

Cheers !

Bri
X

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**Thu 25 Apr 13**
I HAD TO LAUGH
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This clip is brilliant. Whoever made it knows a Hell of a lot about the situation on the absurd Badger Cull.

http://meemsy.com/v/8782

Hitler - badgers

Please - everywhere you go, everyone you E-mail - encourage people to stand up against this awful Government atrocity.

Get them all to sign the Petition direct … http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257

Or just get them to go to TeamBadger.org

Have a great Sunshine day, folks !!

Bri

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**Wed 23 Apr 13**
OUR BADGERS - THE COST
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[Reprinting a poem sent in by a reader:]

This is great, Val.

I think we will have to have a gallery of badger poetry on Save-Me, or Tem badger .. or right here …

THANKS !!

Beautiful !

Bri
X


THE COST

I lie awake…
and feel the night close in
around me.
Out in the dark, somewhere…
a beating heart.
I feel the silence here, like a breath on hold,
A bated breath that makes my blood run cold
for there’s so much at stake…
a cost to every single life they take.

By day we try to keep the faith—
with feelings running high,
we sign and pledge and keep abreast
provide for those, without a voice
- when nowhere in the land, is safe
as politicians perpetrate the lie-
…we try to be a catalyst
we take a chance—we make a choice

‘Cos they have a fundamental right…
Yeh—a fundamental right to life

I lie awake…
and all my night-time fears
confront me.
Out in the night, somewhere…
A beating heart.
In some official place—hangs a ticking clock …
It shouts just
HOW MUCH TIME WE HAVEN’T GOT!
and there’s so much at stake.
A cost to every single life they take.

While we sleep …
    While we sleep…
            While we sleep

[Poem by Val - with thanks]

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**Wed 23 Apr 13**
WHERE IS THE PHOTOGRAPHER?
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Dear Folks …

We are looking for the author of this picture of Kerry, for use in the Acoustic by Candlelight live album art.

If it was YOU, please get in touch, because we'd need a bigger file to print it !

We promise a good credit !

Kerry - Candlelit

Cheers

Brian

Editor - the photographer has been found. Francyne Carr

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**Tue 23 Apr 13**
NO CULL OF URBAN FOXES
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I've just signed this petition. I think it's important.

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/33973

We are at a crucial time in the UK. The Government is exposing itself more and more as completely insensitive to the rights and needs of non-human animals – perhaps the most animal-unfriendly Government ever. This sits alongside:

1) their disregard of the needs of the sick and weak and disadvantaged

2) their scandalous underhanded dismantling of the National Health Service (Did you even know this?!)

3) their bungled attempt to sell off our forests

4) their reckless destruction of what is left of the Green Belt

5) their attempt to legalise the destruction of Buzzards' nests to appease the big bird shooting estates, in which the present Government has family interests

6) their avowed intent to bring back barbaric blood sports, fox hunting with dogs, stag hunting with dogs, hare coursing, etc ...

7) their failure to enforce what laws there are in place to protect wild animals against despicable pursuits such as badger-baiting

8) their obsession with killing thousands of mainly healthy badgers, against all advice and popular opinion, to appease the supposed farming vote

and so on. The list is long and depressing.

The recent hysterical response to a single alleged attack by an urban fox by Tory MP's was clearly orchestrated in coordination with pro-cruelty Countryside Alliance activists. All part of a sustained campaign to try to portray the Red Fox as a dirty, dangerous pest, thus softening up the public to the idea of bringing back barbaric 'sports' which, shockingly, are the unsavoury obsession of most of the members of this Coalition Government.

 

How dangerous is a fox? Consider the following:

1) There are 6,000 hospitalisations due to dog attacks on children in a year, plus a further 2,000 due to bites from other animals, including humans.

2) 1,901 people were killed last year on Britain's roads.

3) Countless atrocities are yearly committed on children and animals by HUMANS every year.

 

Viewed in this context, the Red Fox has to be recognised as one of the gentlest, desirable species of creature in Britain - certainly way ahead of humans. There is thus NO justification whatsoever for foxes being classed as vermin, or persecuted in any way. The law must change. But in the meantime, no cull must be allowed to take place.

This petition is an important piece of the overall vital need for us all to turn back the terrible tide of cruelty and indifference which centres on this awful Government.

Their "Greenness" is clearly a joke, and their thin pretence of concern for animals by supporting animal campaigns in other countries fools no one.

Their so-called Big Society is seen to be no more than a throwback to the Big Selfish Society which desperately clings to the privilege of the few - the rich landowners who still act as if they are answerable to nobody. Like all bullies, they are frightened that their right to trample on all creatures, including humans, who get in their way, could be taken away. And indeed this has to be the long-term task of future governments of this country. What Harold Wilson would have loved to sweep away still remains … at the core of our society, rotten and stinking, and epitomised by David Cameron, George Osborne, Owen Paterson and the whole sorry bunch - representing the out of touch, old-fashioned end of the Tory spectrum. The progressive modern Conservatives in the House must be cringing every day.

It is time to begin the process of the re-enlightenment of this country. The petition to "Stop the badger cull" is now developing into a bush "No cull of urban Foxes" is also important.

Please join me in supporting it. Onwards. There is a mountain to climb, but from the top, the view will be blissful.

Please also keep the thrust of our Badger Cull petition going by asking everyone you know to stand up and be counted. There is a very big picture here.

Brian May

Take another look at the men who are running our country.

Paterson, Cameron, Heath

Bri

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**Tue 23 Apr 13**
MY ADDRESS - PUBLIC ANTI-BADGER CULL MEETING, TAUNTON
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Brian May addresses meeting

Many people have asked me for the content of my address to the public anti-badger cull meeting in Taunton on Saturday. I didn't work from notes for this speech. I spoke spontaneously, following talks by Gavin Grant, CEO of the RSPCA, and eminent farming consultant Steve Jones. http://www.not-in-this-farmers-name.com/what.html

I introduced two new music tracks aimed at raising awareness that will be released later this month, which were very well-received. I then summed up, and clarified three main points.


1. The INEFFECTIVENESS and DANGER OF THE CULL.

After ten years of culling badgers in the UK, based on figures from DEFRA and a proper reading of the RBCT (Randomised Badger Cull Trial) report, as opposed to cherry-picking, it can be seen that even the small drop in infection of 16 per cent claimed by advocates of the cull is not a real expectation. Lord Krebs (author of the RBCT) himself reminds us that the figure of 16 per cent is merely a lessening of the rate of increase of prevalence of the disease. So after 10 years, farmers will in fact not see an improvement. And the long term prediction is even worse. Thus the proposed cull, is, as agreed by the whole scientific community, nothing short of 'crazy'.

In addition the cull will alienate farmers from the public, who are horrified at this unethical killing, which places no value on a wild animal whatsoever. From a supposed Ministry of the Environment, this is a disgrace.

The prognosis for farms on the periphery of the cull zone is grim indeed. They will very likely see bTB increase by up to 30%. DEFRA are (ironically) talking about vaccinating badgers in these zones, but Lord Krebs warns that vaccination only works with a badger population that is stable. This is not going to be the case next to an area where there are being randomly shot.


2. THE PATH OF CATTLE VACCINATION

The European Commission has now laid out a ten-year plan for the legal establishment of vaccination for cattle. This is not, as Paterson and Heath are so fond of telling us, bad news. Cattle vaccination could be here in 2023 if the Government acts now, to take up this proposal as an absolute priority. Time and money spent on killing badgers is counter-productive, because, although this looks like 'doing something right now', it is something which will not solve the problem. With badger culling, we arrive at 2023 with a crippled farming industry.


3. VACCINATION OF BADGERS

Team Badger will assist anyone in the cull zone to vaccinate their badgers now instead of culling. This will not disrupt the badgers; they will stay in situ, preventing emigration and immigration, and protecting the TB free status of the farmer's environment. A herd immunity in the badgers will be built up over about four years, as infected animals disappear, which prevents bTB from being passed to them from then on, and eliminates the 'reservoir' of disease. Infinitely more sensible than killing off the healthy badgers and risking an influx of unhealthy animals.

Team badger is committed to helping both cattle and badgers in this campaign, and solving the problem of TB for farmers. The team is composed of animal campaigners, and its work is directed towards the welfare of all animals. We urge the Government and the NFU to abandon this awful plan immediately and clear a path to all parties working together towards a viable solution for farmers.

Cheers

Brian

Taunton meeting

Audience of around 200
Photographs from Twitter

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**Mon 22 Apr 13**
RESCUING SEA BIRDS - RSPCA WEST HATCH
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While we were in the West Country this weekend, raising awareness of the badger cull, we were able to visit work being done to rescue hundreds of sad guillemots and razorbills afflicted by the recent oil spill. It's the second time in six months that this tragedy has occurred. How awful that these awful oil jettisonings are allowed to happen at sea. If the people that do it could see the suffering it causes, would they change their behaviour?

RSPCA agents and volunteers are working 24 hours a day at the RSPCA centre in West Hatch to save every bird they can.

The birds are brought in, in a pitiful state, covered in oil, more than half of them dead on arrival. The lucky ones have their feathers treated with Margarine, then they have to be washed with something very like Fairy Liquid, and finally rinsed and dried in a warm place, because without the natural oils in their feathers they will die of hypothermia.

The rescued birds are then cared for in sheltered recovery tanks where they can swim freely again, and they're carefully monitored to the point where they are well enough to return to the wild.

These people do a wonderful job. As Vice-President of the RSPCA, I was very moved to see it in action - one of so many ways in which it makes a difference for animals.

Bri

Rescued birds

Bird cages

Washing the birds

A good shower

Cleaning a wing

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**Sat 20 Apr 13**
TODAY
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Am in Taunton [this afternoon] - visiting RSPCA Centre in West Hatch, where they are rescuing and washing oil off sea birds, followed by Team Badger meeting - bits of TV.

And public meeting in Taunton tonight. Am also opening a local *live music venue.

Bri

*NOTE: “The Live Room” and will showcase existing as well as emerging bands and musicians.

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**Fri 19 Apr 13**
CHEZ BARON KREBS
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Brian and Lord Krebs
Lord Krebs and Dr Brian May

Brian at Jesus College, Oxford - 18 April 2013
Brian May at Jesus College, Oxford - 18 April 2013

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**Fri 19 Apr 13**
PLAYING FOR RECORD STORE DAY?
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OK !

This is still unconfirmed, but Kerry and I MAY be at

Sister Ray Records in Berwick Street (London Town) at 3pm today, Friday.

We will take a guitar.

Gotta be good to smell some vinyl !!!

Cheers!

Bri

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**Thu 18 Apr 13**
LORD KREBS
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Anne Brummer and I had an amazing afternoon with Lord Krebs today. Baron Krebs, Principal of Jesus College Oxford, is an awesome intellectual – a scientist of international repute, with a list of achievements to make me blanche. The fact that he made time for us actually blew my mind before we started. Then, invited into his rooms in the impossibly beautiful 500-year-old stone buildings around the Jesus College quadrangle, we felt as if we had walked into the film set of a Gothic romance. Yet it was not dark – everywhere shafts of sunlight danced on the ancient wood panelling and the colourful portraits of 16th century former occupants, the perfume of daffodils filled the air, and the spirit of the innocent quest for knowledge caressed our tired minds. We sat around a polished rosewood table which evidently had comfortably handled assemblies of a dozen of more professors for hundreds of years, just a band of three people taking up little space in a magnificent conference room. Yet the words spoken were not small.

Lord John Krebs is a gentle man, quietly spoken, light of being. He inhabits this wonderful cathedral of knowledge with the air of someone mildly surprised to be treated with such reverence, yet infinitely comfortable in his skin. He speaks in concise sentences, with the minutest pauses for thought, and he has the skill of listening – of balanced conversation, maximising the efficiency of time spent, yet giving the impression that one has all the time in the world. As we spoke and delved into the intricacies of the immensely complex Bovine TB issues, his mind seemed to emit light and space. The conversation was still about saving lives, yet beneath it all was a calm, pure, innocent pursuit of truth.

This man has a grasp of so many big pictures. To even begin to understand the subject of Cattle-TB-Badgers you have to peer closely into many different areas – science, logic, animal husbandry, economics, human nature, personalities, motives and hidden agendas, and … ethics. All these facets have to be taken into account to build a picture of the whole sorry story, which is difficult in itself; and to start to make predictions as to the outcomes of present actions is much harder still. To do so requires taking several steps back and trying to glimpse the overall bigger picture. Somehow this seems much more possible in an atmosphere of pure intellectual discussion, a million miles away from the bluster and blinkered protestations of the likes of Owen Paterson and David Heath – men who seem (forgive me) to be entirely lacking in the art of listening – and of course the puppet master himself, David Cameron.

Only two days ago I spoke at the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Wildlife meeting, debating against architects of the Government's current scheme for badger culling. And the discussion was constructive to a point, yet two things stick in my mind. Firstly it was a reminder that, with few exceptions, the level of understanding of the subject among MPs is shockingly low. And secondly, the most notable comment of all was made by the conspicuous absence of those two 'Ministers Against the Environment', as they have been amusingly christened by some commentators. Yes Paterson and Heath were both 'too busy' to attend this discussion. This was the third time that Paterson has refused to debate against me. Whether that refusal is borne of arrogance, or fear of being able to support his case, or some other cause unknown to me, is not clear. At Sky TV at the time of the badgers' debate he and I were in the same offices in the same building, as guests on the same current affairs programme, and he refused to sit in the same room as me. And recently when Oxford University Union attempted to set up a debate on the subject, he defaulted, reportedly saying he would be on a losing wicket, so 'why should he risk it?'

This time these absences meant that nobody present was able to speak on behalf of the Government, reinforcing the strong impression we have that, though they are riding against the whole scientific community, the majority of public opinion, and the will of Parliament, and are undoubtedly heading into the most messy situation this Coalition has yet navigated, the men of the Coalition Government ARE NOT LISTENING.

I will have to return to writing about the substance of our discussions with Lord Krebs later, because it's a big write, but I will just lay one vital fact on the table which is still utterly swept under the carpet by the pro-cull brigade. A net improvement of around 16 per cent (with large uncertainties) was quoted in the RBCT report, as the possible result of culling 70 per cent of badgers for a period of years. But this 'improvement' is set against what would have happened if the cull had not taken place. In the present situation where prevalence [of] bTB in cows is steadily increasing, a 16 per cent 'improvement' constitutes only a lessening of the rate of increase. Quite wickedly, really, those who have been insisting that the cull can work have been neglecting to relay this fact to the farmers.

So the farmers who have signed up to the present 'Pilot Culls" are being asked to fork out for night-time shooting to take place on their land, putting them, their families, and their livestock at risk, plus lining them up against the wrath of an entire outraged nation, for a scheme which, after 10 long years, even if the supposed 16 per cent dream comes true (which for various reasons is highly unlikely) they will see only a slowing of the rate of spread of the disease. In other words, they end up no better off than they are now. This is a shocking piece of information, and one the farmers have the right to be told. Will they believe me? Of course not. It's so easy to dismiss me as a deluded rock star out of his depth in farming matters.

The good news is you don't have to believe me, guys. But please read what the impartial scientists have to say, because it's all in there in black and white, in the Krebs report. Lord Krebs has to get up every morning and see his work quoted out of context, his figures 'filleted', and his conclusion, that culling CAN MAKE NO MEANINGFUL CONTRIBUTION TO THE CONTROL OF BOVINE TB IN THE UK dismissed, by a gang of strong-arm boys determined to drive farming off a cliff.

You still want to cling to this juggernaut?

More soon. Please do sign the petition against the cull, folks http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257

This Government just might begin to take notice.

Brian

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**Wed 17 Apr 13**
MY CONTRIBUTION TO TODAY'S APPG - ALL PARTY PARLIAMENTARY GROUP - ON WILDLIFE
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I spoke today at the meeting of the Wildlife and Conservation APPG in a committee room in the House of Commons. The subject of the meeting was

Bovine TB and Badgers
3-4pm, Wednesday 17 April
Committee Room 17, Upper Committee Corridor

The meeting was chaired by Angela Smith, MP, and I was one of a panel of four.

The format was one of debate.

The other principal speakers were:

Adam Quinney (Vice President of the NFU)
Simon King (The current head of the Wildlife Trusts)
Jim Paice (ex-Minister of Environment)

The text of my speech was roughly this.



I speak on behalf of Team Badger.

I have just a few minutes to put on record how appallingly sad and misguided we feel this cull is, and try to find the words to say, that will avert this impending tragedy. The proponents of the scheme are, in their supreme arrogance, ignoring science, morality, public opinion, and the will of Parliament.
  
Lord Krebs has called the cull a crazy scheme. From where I’m standing it looks like a battered juggernaut hurtling towards a precipice. Over the precipice is a bloody mess, borne of a logical absurdity, an appalling misrepresentation of science, a crime against wild animals, and the perpetuation of misery for farmers for years to come, but WORSE – add to that the further alienation of farming industry from the public, and the hastening of the ultimate demise of dairy farming in the UK.

I – we – don’t want to see that happen. If we, at Team Badger were ‘anti-farming’, you might expect us to want it to happen. But we don’t. We want a solution which allows farmers to make an honest living.

Let’s start at the beginning. In the 6-hour debate in the House which we brought about through public petition on the Government’s own website, (100,000 signatures got us the debate – we are now close to 200,000) I had the depressing experience of watching MP after Coalition MP rise and tell us, “This is a terrible problem for farmers”.  Yes, we know. There has never been a time when we, attempting to give a voice to wild animals, have lost sight of this fact. It would actually have been easy for any of us, at any time, to campaign against farmers and promote the boycotting of products. We have not done that. What the extremist pro-cullers who spend their time attacking me don’t realise is that I spent two years in private discussions with Jan Rowe, and with a smallholding farmer who does not want to be named, trying to find solutions agreeable to all. I believe we came close, but in failing we maintained a dialogue and I think maintained mutual respect for each other's point of view. 

We’re NOT extremists. In fact the moderate campaigning of Team Badger is all that stands between the NFU and the Government (who we can assume are in bed together) on the one hand, and the public on the other.  Temperatures are rising.  In the days of free information on the Net, the public cannot be so easily fooled – they’re increasingly becoming as angry as the angry farmers – and they will not remain moderate or inactive if this cull should go ahead. When that first shot is fired by the Government to kill a badger, it will be a declaration of war, and things will change – much more radically than you realise. 

We at Team Badger DO NOT WANT THIS WAR. 

LET’S LOOK AT PRACTICALITIES

Every day, in the street, people come up to me in the and say, “Well done Bri … you got the cull postponed”.  We in this room all know that I didn’t. Team Badger put the spotlight on you  - but the cull failed to go ahead because the estimates of badger population were found to be faulty at the last minute. So you didn’t have enough men with guns. But also the uncertainty in numbers made it impossible to guarantee the achievement of your aims of 70 per cent cull.

I believe that the cull will fail to go ahead this time too, and indeed cannot go ahead, because of similar considerations, or if it does, it will fail miserably and conspicuously.  There is absolutely no way the current estimates of populations are accurate enough to ensure that a 70 per cent cull is achieved.

DEFRA’s three different quoted estimates for population densities of badgers are wildly disparate, with error bars much greater than 50 per cent. And that’s just gross averages; to suggest that DEFRA has accurate enough estimates to ensure a 70 per cent kill in the area of any given sett – when setts are very variable anyway – is simply not believable. 

Rosie Woodruff and Christl Donnelly have published a Nature Note warning that it will be impossible to control numbers killed. If I were in your shoes I would sense impending unavoidable failure. And really, if you really believed that badgers were the source of the problem – even though they’re not – the only hope of eradicating the disease would be to eliminate them completely. 

I will never forget the look of incredulity and amusement  on the face of one of the European Commissioners we spoke to in Brussels last year. “They think they can eradicate the disease by killing 70 per cant of the supposed carriers? It’s insane. They’d have to kill them all, which is ridiculous.”  I’d actually love to know what stops you guys trying to kill them all? The Bern Convention? Or is there some shred of decent concern for wild animals in you chaps after all?

But this is conversation which should have been had early on … because it’s a dead end. It's like saying, “We theorise that in order to wipe out measles we have to kill every Englishman with Scottish blood.”  The next sentence is …"‘Oh – that’s ridiculous … to go out killing when we don’t even know for sure who has Scottish blood in them?”  Somebody then says, “Oh that’s OK - we’ll just just kill 70 per cent of ALL Englishmen, whether or not they have the disease". That’s what you’re proposing with badgers ... you’re indiscriminately – incredibly – killing mostly healthy animals. Then someone says, “This is INSANE - we have to find another way”.  Of course it’s insane. That’s how long that conversation about badgers should have lasted. It’s morally unacceptable, ridiculous, so another way has to be found. We all know what that way is … it begins with a V. Vaccination. 

This cull cannot work. 

Add to this the now well-established fact that punitive culling of badgers is going on in the hotspot areas already. I am appalled at the Government’s silence on this breakdown of law and order in the countryside. It’s not just illegal activity, it’s not just cruel and despicable, which ought to be enough reason for it to be condemned. It also underlines the fact that bTB flourishes in situations of badger culling. It’s common sense too, because if you believe that badgers carry the disease, this is the perfect way to spread bTB to your neighbours, due to the well known phenomenon of perturbation. Finally it also makes nonsense of the counting methods you’re employing – they are instantaneously out of date. You have not a clue how many badgers have been killed already, and how many more will be killed tonight when it gets dark.  

LET’S LOOK AT ECONOMICS

This Government has done so–called ‘evaluations’ of the effect of Badger culling – in which the cost of culling is measured against the cost of not culling. In the recounting of this evaluation, the cost to farmers, the cost of slaughtered cows, and the emotional cost to farming families is all added up – and then the rhetoric would have you believe that killing badgers would STOP the disease – and suddenly all this cost would not have to be paid. It’s portrayed as a conflict between cows and badgers. Hundreds of farmers seem to have been cajoled into thinking this is true. But nothing could be further from the truth. There is not a scientist in the field, or informed farmer in the UK, who believes that after ten years of attempted culling in the UK Bovine TB would be wiped out. Not a chance in Hell. The best this ridiculous scheme can offer is, even according to the most sexed-up estimates, an improvement in breakdowns of a tiny 16 per cent after ten years. The worst, predicted by most scientists in the field, is that after ten abortive years, the situation will actually be WORSE. What a legacy to farmers. What a legacy to Britain.

ETHICS

And to the man in the street, this is all nonsense anyway and  – worse – it is clearly a crime against Nature. Bovine TB was introduced into British wildlife by cattle farming. This is a crime of carelessness. But to then accuse the innocent wildlife, who are then called a ‘reservoir’ of being the cause of the problem and condemning them to death is a premeditated crime, borne of a warped sense of values, and is being pursued for political and short sighted economic reasons. 

Warped set of values? What am I talking about? I look at you two chaps and I know you are decent family men, but you are doing an indecent thing – you're doing an appallingly indecent thing. You can’t see it because you farming economist warriors live in a different world from us normal humans. You talk of birthing and rearing and ‘finishing’ and culling all in the same sentence, in euphemistic words which conceal the fact that you deal daily in the life and death of sentient creatures, treating them as a commodity, almost oblivious of the fact that they are creatures in their own right. And you tell us stories of farmers weeping because they have to kill their animals prematurely, when all the time they are rearing them purely in order to exploit them and send them off to slaughter.  We ‘normal’ people find that hard to swallow. 

And in all this reckoning – this ‘evaluation’ –  the value of a Badger has not once appeared. It doesn’t appear anywhere, because in the view of the NFU and this Government, the value of a living, breathing, thinking, feeling, highly intelligent family-oriented badger is … is ZERO. The continued existence of these ancient animal families is … nothing. So to you it all makes perfect sense – calculating by your rules, if it took the death of a hundred thousand badgers to supposedly save the life of one cow, it would be justified. The sad fact is that if every badger in Britain were killed, cows would still be dying of TB for the next ten years – and beyond. I don’t believe that any one of you could put your hand on the Bible and tell me that isn’t true. Killing badgers will not save cows – and it’s dishonest say so.

It’s incredible that this appallingly flawed scheme has been successfully peddled to farmers. They are being made to pay for a scheme which is already making them hugely unpopular with the British Public, for a supposed benefit which they will almost certainly never see. 

This is a moral travesty, and a remarkable piece of deception.   

We challenge the NFU to

1) Poll their members to see if the majority really DO want to pursue this useless cull. We suspect that in a confidential ballot, free from coercion, they do not. Union officials are supposed to FOLLOW the wishes of their members, not force their hands.

2) Clearly confirm their condemnation of the practice of Badger Baiting. I know you have, personally, Adam, and we thank you. But one line from you on a website hardly constitutes a wholehearted public caution to the public from the NFU. If there is such a thing, I’m sorry, I have missed it. 

3) Condemn the practice of small-scale DIY punitive killings of badgers – which is cruel, illegal, and if badgers are infected in that area by local cattle, at this minute spreading bovine TB by Perturbation. 

We call on the Government to

4) As an absolute priority, prepare for a cattle vaccination pilot scheme. Only recently has Paterson even acknowledged a need for this to be pursued. It is clear that successive governments have dragged their feet on this issue (for reasons we can discuss).

5) Vaccinate badgers, as is being done in Wales. 

6) Abort this disastrous cull scheme and have the courage to clear the way for us all to start  pulling in the same direction (including me) … towards healthy cows and healthy wildlife. 

Look … daily there is more evidence emerging that killing badgers will not help solve this problem (from Durham, from  Oxford, etc) You’re pursuing a course which will put you in the history books for your grandchildren to read, as Luddites who simply could not admit that a farming problem has to be solved within farming methods. This cull is a pretence – a sop offered to farmers who in the end will blame you for getting seduced away from the real solutions to the problem.  Don’t do it.

Comments on subsequent discussions …

“No country has ever conquered TB that didn’t tackle it in the wildlife reservoir”?  NOT True. The truth is that no country attacking the problem in this way has eradicated the disease. We have the proof … but we can talk about this later. No country in Europe has successfully adopted the methods we are employing to successfully rid itself of TB.

There was a lot misunderstanding in the room about the cull being a kind of scientific experiment to see if culling badgers works to eradicate bTB. This is not the case, and in the meeting this was confirmed by Jim Paice. No data on culling and bTB will be able to be collected from this cull. All the ‘pilot cull’ is testing is if badgers can be culled cheaply and ‘humanely’. 

Claims were made once again in this meeting that culling badgers reduces the population, which in turn reduces the rate of infection in the badger population. In the RBCT trial this was found NOT to be true. The first result of culling in the RBCT trial was an increase in the percentage of infected animals. Can you imagine trying to cure an outbreak of a infectious disease in humans by randomly killing 70 per cent of them – with no test to ascertain which were infected?  The true folly of this scheme becomes more and more apparent. 

There is an irony in the fact that the NFU is considering (but not offering to pay for) vaccinating badgers in the borders areas of the cull zones. The irony is that they are saying on the one hand that vaccination is not a viable option, yet they are proposing to use it to limit the potential damage done by a cull.


I have included some comments on the subsequent discussion which was thrown open to the floor.

Brian

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**Tue 16 Apr 14**
IMPERIAL COLLEGE
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I am shocked and saddened to see these revelations. And ashamed that it could have taken place in the University of my own training, in which I have had so much pride.

I can only fully support the work of BUAV and the RSPCA in conducting a full inquiry.

And I hope the result will be that this appalling cruelty will never be allowed to happen again.

Research on animals is an outdated concept - unethical, and unsupportable now that it is known that it yields false results.

There is now, in every case, a better alternative.

Experimentation on animals must now come to an end, and I urge Imperial College to use this opportunity to put all cruelty in the past, by eliminating animal experimentation, and thereby set an example to the world.

Brian May

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Tue 16 Apr 13**
RIP EDWIN SHIRLEY
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Most of you guys will not know Edwin's name.
He didn't become a rock star or a politician or billionaire.
But he was a gentle giant in his chosen profession - Trucking.
Edwin was at the head of Queen's vehicle convoy
for so many years I can't begin to remember how many.
He was a rock in his own way - the job always got done,
and in a way which pleased everyone.
He was a great pal of Gerry Stickells, our illustrious Tour Manager
and the two of them wrote the book on how to party on tour.
How to work hard, play hard, and treat everyone with decency and respect.

I'm so sad to hear Edwin has passed on today.
As Jacky has said, we can all hope he finds Freddie
in the mood to celebrate up there.
A good life. A good man.
Sincere condolences to Edwin's family.

God speed ya

Brian



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**Tue 16 Apr 13**
BOSTON MARATHON HIT BY EXPLOSiONS
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Deepest condolences to all in Boston whose loved ones were injured or lost on this terrible day.

Impossible to imagine how anyone can imagine that cruelty like this can be justified in any terms whatsoever.

And it gets harder and harder not to despair of the human race.

Bri

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**Tue 16 Apr 13**
BADGER BADGER BADGER - AND THE AMAZING MR WEEBL
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I jumped in today [Mon 15 April] …at a moment's notice, and so did my new pal Jonti. Into a new fire. Nothing like striking while the iron is hot …

Jonti Picking - otherwise known to me as Mr Weebl – the genius behind the Internet sensation "Badger Badger Badger Mushroom Mushroom … Snake Snake … "

And if you don't know what I'm talking about, you must have been hiding!

Actually I was probably the last to see this - most of my friends and my entire family were telling me about it long before I actually found the time to tune in. But then …. after a moment's sheer bafflement, and wonder … the phenomenon broke upon me.

Coincidence seems to play a big part in my life … or perhaps not coincidence, but synchronicity borne of endeavours. Only a few days after my baptism into Badger Badger Badger, we heard that its author was outraged about the Government's awful plan to destroy thousands of mostly healthy badgers families, in a mad scheme which, though supported fanatically by some farmers, is unlikely to help them in any way. He sent me over a rough demo of a new Badger track which, to me, had the unmistakeable stamp of brilliance.

Jonti agreed to come down and collaborate - and on Sunday night we both cleared the decks to meet Monday lunchtime in the studio.

About 8 hours later … we had thrown everything we had at his brilliant new idea, enough material to do a mix, though I suspect there will be many mixes, if this makes people smile as much as I think it will.

Jonti is an inveterate twitterer and master of electronic media, so I will mostly leave it to him to allow this little monster to escape in a suitable way.

If you're interested, you won't have to wait long ! Here's Team Badger's newest recruit …

Brian May and Jonti
Brian May and Jonti

Not Guilty T-shirt

Cheers all …. Badger Badger Badger ………

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