brian's soapbox
     
JUNE 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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**Fri 14 Jun 13**
QUEEN HONOURED BY KERRANG!

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Roger Taylor and Brian May - Kerrang! Awards
Photo by Justine Ellis

Roger and I enjoyed the Kerrang! awards last night.

And we were happy to receive the prestigious award for "Service to Rock".

Here's a pic of Al Murray taking a picture of us, just after he presented the award to us.

I think the picture he took is on Twitter! I'm speaking - offering my thanks, and obviously much too busy to notice what Al is doing! But we thank Al, a great pal, as always.

Al Murray photographs Brian and Roger at Kerrang! Awards
Photo by Sara Bricusse

And the picture at the top of this piece shows us in the Press enclave afterwards ... having our official photo taken.

THANKS ALL !

Bri

Nice to wear that ol' Queen hat now and then. We also had a good Band meeting [yesterday], hatching plans.

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**Wed 12 Jun 13**
A QUARTER MILLION !!!
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A QUARTER MILLION !!!


Who would have imagined in the early days that we'd reach this massive number of signatures ?!! Especially when we won the backbench debate vote hands down, last Autumn, and everyone assumed the battle was over !

Huge thanks to EVERYONE who's made this happen.

Please carry on spreading the word. Every signature counts. Eventually it will become apparent that the course of history has to change.

And you will have achieved that. Save the Badgers !!!

All the best

Bri

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**Tue 11 Jun 13**
PSY ROCKS!
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New style - Psy rocks
New Style ! @kerryjaneellis1 @psy_oppa

Psy Rocks ! Bri

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**Mon 10 Jun 13**
PSY BRUNCH
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Well, yes, it seems we ARE meeting for Brunch ! But that's all I can tell you ...

Cheers

Bri

Ed: check out Psy's comment on Scott Mills Daily [Audio]

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**Thu 06 Jun 13**
DIABLERIES ! AND THOUGHTS OF THE DEVIL
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Trying to contain my excitement at holding the first advance copies of the Diableries book in my hand today, in Traverse City Michigan, where we'll be presenting it to the National Stereoscopic Association for the first time. It's a welcome distraction from the grim events in Britain - that well-known land of animal lovers.

It's more and more important, of course, to alert everyone to the tragedy unfolding for our wildlife - and get them to sign the petition on TeamBadger.org. Watching democracy at work this week has been a depressing experience - but the fight for the right of our wildlife to live will go on - and in the end, we will bring about the change that decency requires.

Cheers all - and thanks to all of you who continue to fight with us, against what one can only regard as EVIL - the evil that results from a lack of ethical intelligence.

Yep - the Devil, as portrayed so wittily in those French stereo cards of the 1860s, is alive and well - and must be enjoying the antics of Huntin'/Shootin'/Cullin' fraternity.

But his laughter is hollow, and will be short-lived. We are on his tail.

Bri

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**Wed 05 Jun 13**
HOW DO I FEEL SINCE WE GOT DEFEATED IN A PARLIAMENTARY VOTE TODAY?
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BADGER CULL DEBATE LOST BY 49 VOTES
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Lots of kind people are asking me – how do I feel since we got defeated in a Parliamentary vote today?

Yes, I’m sad, but not for myself. I am OK with dealing with failure. And there are always good things that come out of bad things.

I’m just mortally sad for the thousands of badger families, innocently unaware of the political games being played by callous humans, but soon to be destroyed in a brutal massacre, the like of which has never been seen in the UK.

We will make the best of this result in the House of Commons, seat of democracy in this country.

But it’s worth noting some points. Even if we had won this vote, the Government would probably still have gone ahead with the badger slaughter: they have shown no signs of listening to either the public or Parliament in the past, and show no sign of changing that attitude. This is what democracy in the UK means at this point in time. An election happens, nobody gets a majority. Two ambitious young men manage to grab power by making a coalition. And then they operate effectively as a dictatorship. The voice of the public means nothing from then on.

But let us look also at the parliamentary process, which somehow managed to show overwhelming opposition to the cull last November, when the Government was defeated by 147 votes to 28, and yet today apparently showed approval by a narrow margin just 299 to 250, meaning that if just 25 people had voted the other way we would have won.

Well, no. What happened was simply that, faced with almost certain defeat on a free vote, the Government decided to Whip the vote. This is a traditional term, which hides a practice, which though in history might have been a legitimate reminder to MPs of the importance of being in the House to vote, has certainly now become a way of directly bullying and intimidating MPs into voting in favour of the Government. David Cameron brought in what is called a ‘Three Line Whip” tonight, which means the strongest possible coercion is brought to bear on Conservative (and Coalition) MPs. This can mean anything from the threat of withdrawal of privileges which make it possible for MPs to balance their family life with their official workloads, to ‘bribery’ in the form of promises of promotion or other benefits, to direct threats of withdrawal of job offers. It’s a very dirty business, and surely the question should be asked as to whether this bullying should have a place in 21st century democracy.

If YOUR MP is a Tory or Lib Dem, he or she very probably sat in the House today, and was stopped from voting either in the interests of you, the constituents, or according to their own conscience, by threats from the Government. Is that democracy? Are we happy with this?

I never realised what a grubby game our political system had become until recently. Surely it’s time for change on a grand scale.

Brian

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**Wed 05 Jun 13**
TODAY IS THE DAY. DAVID AND GOLIATH
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For all animal lovers, and seekers after decency in the human race, today is an important day.

In the scenario of Britain as it is, we who are fighting for 100,000 small and tragically abused creatures, are passionate, but lacking in armoury. Those who are determined to try to solve a problem by mass killings are strong, and rich, armed with big guns, and well-connected, all the way to the seat of ultimate power in the land. They hold all the trump cards. They are Goliath, and we are David. Which ever way things go today, ours is to accept, and know that there is a long-distance thread to this, which sooner or later leads to justice, and mercy.

David just might slay Goliath, or he might not, but, either way, this is a fight which, in years to come, will be remembered as part of the journey which made Britain a better, kinder place: for badgers, for cows, and for people.

Bri

Twitter:
BADGERS: Praying for David to defeat Goliath in the Commons debate today. The lives of 100,000 highly intelligent animals hang by a thread.
I can't be at the debate tomorrow. I am a very long way away, on a journey I had to make. But my spirit is with our team in the HOC today.

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**Tue 04 Jun 13**
THE BADGER CULL DEBATE TOMORROW
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This debate is a very important step for animals and people in Britain.

That fact that it is happening at all is due to the tireless efforts of Mary whichever, the Shadow minister of DEFRA. But though this is technically an Opposition Day Debate, led by Labour parliamentarians, its content is way above party politics. There will be speakers in favour of the motion from ALL parties, and it's important that everyone realises that this endeavour is actually driven by a special kind of cross-party endeavour quite unique in our history. This is by no means an attempt to bring down the Conservative Party. Many of the most passionate speakers will be Tories, and their intention is to make a watershed in the campaign for Animal Welfare, which will be seen by future generations as a vital step towards decency. Just as, in the end, Wilberforce's campaign to abolish slavery became an issue which rose above politics, so will this crucial decision be seen in the future as calling out to be an all-party moment of choice.

The ordinary people of Britain, in which I count myself, do care - do wish that Britain be a leader in progress towards an ethical landscape. There is no doubt that public opinion will take us there in the end. But we need it sooner rather than later, after the blood of hundreds of thousands of highly intelligent mammals is spilt all over our countryside, for a project which CANNOT eradicate the scourge of bTB. And cannot alleviate the suffering of farmers, even though some of them have been led to believe it can. We will all be watching tomorrow to see which Members of Parliament have the courage to put their names on the ticket to a better future for all.

Brian

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**Sun 02 Jun 13**
SPEECH NOTES
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My notes for the speech I delivered at the Save the Badgers march/rally yesterday in London.

Of course it's only an approximation to what I actually said ! But this is roughly what I intended to say.

Brian

 

BRIAN MAY - SPEECH NOTES
1 June 2013

Hats off to Wasp and Laurence for putting this rally together, at very short notice.   They’ve really done a great job, especially since most of us were saying ‘don’t do it’!

Thank you to all of you who have turned up here today to express your disgust at the Government’s seemingly unstoppable commitment to killing as a solution to a problem which is crippling livestock farming at the moment: a government in bed with an NFU leadership similarly welded to the idea of the massacre of thousands of mostly healthy wild animals, seemingly unable to hear the words of the Scientific Community that it will not work, deaf to the cries of hundreds of thousands of Brits who have expressed their revulsion to this cull, and in contempt of the will of Parliament, which at the end of a 6 hour debate last November, voted overwhelmingly against the cull. 

A few years ago there was another march in London, when thousands of country dwellers assembled to protest against the then Government’s treatment of the countryside, the destruction of green belt lands, the closing of country amenities like post offices, the lack of Internet access, etc.  The hideous irony is that what they got as a result, in the 2011 election, was an arrogant, callous, out-of-touch administration who have probably done more to ruin the countryside than any government in living memory. 

This is the government which tried to sell off our forests, which is covering our now almost unrecognisable Green Belt with concrete at an unprecedented rate, which, ever-so-quietly has been destroying buzzards nests, to aid the shooting industry, a business which almost the whole of this government, privately, has an interest in.  This is the government which is struggling desperately to find a way to re-legalise the despicable blood sports of fox hunting, stag hunting with dogs, and hare coursing. This is the government which abstained on a European vote to ban the pesticides which have been implicated in the demise of the bee population.  This is what the folks in the last countryside protest got for their money .  Let’s hope we will be more successful this time.  Let’s hope we get one day, a decent, compassionate government which will truly start to treasure this country’s greatest heritage … its magnificent wild animals.  For what use is a countryside with no wildlife?  That is exactly what this government is heading us towards, if we let it.  

This war against the badger killers is not over on June 1st.  It has hardly begun.  Because this is a fight for the lives of 100,000 innocent animals over the next few years.  But even more than that: it is a fight against the old-fashioned blood- minded ignorant attitude that Human beings, and money and political power, are all that matter.  It’s a fight for the rights of the other creatures on this planet – for their very right to live in these islands.

We will never give up. We will fight this cull for as long as it takes to place it where it belongs … in the HISTORY of barbaric cruel acts.     

We will fight with every means that is legal, decent and compassionate.  Because decency and compassion is what we are about.  We will NOT be victimising farmers and their families.  Remember … there are elements of the farming community who HAVE been behaving indecently, illegally and vindictively, to badgers and other wild animals, and to people like us, and even to those of their colleagues who dared to disagree with their obsession with badger culling.  But this mess that British farming is in, by and large, is NOT the fault of the average decent hard-working farmer.  It is the fault of bad leadership over the years. In the corridors of Europe, the image of British farming as they discuss it, is not a comfortable thing to overhear.  They regard us as cheap, and sloppy.  They point out that Britain is the ONLY country which has a serious bTB problem – and that this is no accident.

I want to speak to the farmers now.  There are many of you who are very supportive of our views and working with us towards vaccination.   There are many more who are nervous of even speaking to us because of pressure from their colleagues.  But I want to speak to every farmer, tenant farmer, and landowners of all levels, and especially to those of you who have put your faith in this badger cull. 

We believe that British Farmers have been LET DOWN by their leadership.  LET DOWN by an NFU which didn’t look after the small farmer, and thought it knew better than to follow the European guidelines.   An NFU which restocked carelessly after the foot and mouth outbreak, an NFU which has gone along with the incorrect application of a scandalously unreliable skin test to take reactive cows out of herds, and failed to enforce proper movement controls and decent, bio-safe, husbandry.

We believe that farmers have been LET DOWN also by successive governments who did not care enough, and were not clever enough, and were too cheap, take the proper steps to eradicate TB, including the implementing of a vaccine of cows.  Right now the European Commission, so often used as an excuse by British governments, is offering to help us move towards the validation and licensing of our cattle vaccine, based on BCG, and of the essential DIVA test.  But even now, Paterson, Heath, Cameron and co, are refusing to prioritise it, striding around telling us vaccination is YEARS AWAY.  And wasting everyone’s time with a CULL which cannot solve the problem.  Cannot even make a significant dent in it in the next ten years.   Do not believe those claims about Ireland, about New Zealand, about Australia, Michigan and white-tailed deer.  All the statistics have been massaged to produce the answer they want.  Culling of wildlife has NEVER eradicated TB in any country in the world.   

Vaccination of our National Herd is probably realistically 10 years away.  Does that sound like a long time?  Too long to wait?  Surely we must do something now? But the something that this Govt and NFU has sold to the farmers has been shown by science to be ineffective – has been rejected by Parliament, is unacceptable to nigh-on a quarter of a million people who have signed our petition on the Government’s own website.  Paterson has now admitted that culling, this whole bloody mess, will have to go on for 25 YEARS !!   At the end of all this misery, paid for by farmers, while the taxpayer continues to pay for compensation when breakdowns occur, TB will still be there.  Farmers will STILL be suffering.  Cows will still be suffering.  And the badgers … will be a pitiful remnant, their social structure forever destroyed, a tragic ghost of a species that was native in Britain long before we were.   

This cull is a cheap, shoddy, pig in a poke, offered dishonestly to farmers as a solution to their misery.  It will fail, and probably damage farming’s relationship with the public forever.  We offer a solution - Vaccination.  We are already cooperating in community-led vaccination schemes.  People of the UK … do NOT let this atrocity happen. 

The great news is we now have the Opposition Day debate THIS WEDNESDAY.  PLEASE WRITE to your MP, tell him or her that you require him or her to have the courage to vote against this hideous wasteful, cruel, morally bereft, CULL.

The other thing that has now changed is very significant.  We have known for a long time that this cull was ethically unacceptable, and scientifically unsound, but there was always the argument that it was economically favourable compared with any other approach.  Since the findings revealed in yesterday’s Independent, we now know that the savings in cow fatalities will not be even equal to the total outlay for culling in this manner.  So the last justification for culling is now gone.  And since it concerns money, in our society, sadly, this is likely to be the deciding factor.  It would certainly be a good reason for Cameron to pull out of the scheme at the 11th hour with dignity, in the public interest, before all Hell breaks loose when that first shot is fired. 

There is one final advantage to farmers in shelving the cull.  With the killing out of the equation, a whole new army of (us) badgerists will then be fighting alongside the NFU, as opposed to against them, in a concerted effort to beat bTB.  I believe that what destiny calls for.

We will win this war for decency.  It may take time, but we will prevail. 

I cannot stop the badger cull.  You can. 

Thank you for caring. 

Bri



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**Sat 01 Jun 13**
BADGER SATURDAY
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Big thanks to everyone who came to march with us in London today, Badger Saturday.

It was an amazing day. I was very moved, actually - never expected to see it happen on that scale - with thousands of committed, positively energised people of all ages, and from all walks of life as far as my eye could see, snaking down the streets of London, making an unforgettable noise!

Here is a copy of the letter I delivered to Number 10, and a snap of me on the doorstep.

There is definitely cause for optimism. The Government in theory has its license to kill on a huge scale, but the opera is not over.

Nor will it be, until we secure decent treatment for our wild animals.

I will get my speech notes together later this evening and we'll post them.

Cheers all

Bri

Letter to Mr Cameron

 


Dear Mr Cameron

On behalf of Team Badger

Thank you for allowing us to present this petition personally.  

We are asking you to step in and stop the Badger Cull for the following reasons.

  1. We believe it cannot possibly be humane to thousands of mostly healthy badgers.
  2. The whole scientific community is convinced that the cull cannot eradicate bTB in cattle, and will probably make things worse.
  3. It has now been shown that this plan will not even be cost-effective, and will actually lose the tax-payer money. In the light of this new evidence we feel that now would be a good time to pull back from this scheme in the public interest.

We offer our services not just to protect Britain’s wildlife, but also to work with the Government and the NFU towards a prioritised plan of vaccination of badgers and our national herd of cattle.

Sincerely

Brian May


Brian May presents petition at No 10 Downing Street
Bri delivering badger cull petition with 234,000 signatories. 1 June 2013
Photo: Gavin Sheppard

Anne Brummer, Virginia McKenna, Brian May, Robbie Marsland
Anne Brummer (CEO of Save-Me), Virginia McKenna (Founder of Born Free), Brian,
Robbie Marsland (CEO of IFAW UK)
at number 10, Downing Street. Photo by Gavin Sheppard

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**Sat 01 Jun 13**
BRI AT WORK
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Halfway through my day of interviews yesterday - in a borrowed studio near Millbank … still smiling at this point ! ha ha

Bri

Bri at Millbank

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