This was the first time I had ever done anything like this. It was, as I said, almost exciting … because there is always that rush of adrenaline just before you stand up and speak in front of a room of highly qualified MPs and ‘stakeholders’, including some from the ‘enemy’ who have snuck in at the back to see if you’ll make a fatal mistake.
I worked hard on my presentation the previous day, but when I rose to speak, I somehow could not read it – I had to look into the eyes of the people in the room, and let it come organically. So the words I spoke were completely different from the notes I’d made. Nevertheless I’ll attach the notes, because they’ll give a good idea of what I intended to say.
I think it went well. I saw people nodding, and heard the occasional grunt of approval. But I sat down feeling that I had failed to include some important points. Luckily the discussion that followed, after Bill Oddie’s supporting speech, gave me a chance to fill in the gaps, the crucial subject of Vaccination then being well covered.
Strangely enough, many of the most important moments of the day were not in the meeting room at all. They were chance meetings in corridors and cafeterias – we felt an almost universal support from the people who work in the infrastructure of the building. And there was some magic in chance conversations with MPs, in which we were able to make many new friends. Just BEING in the House makes a huge difference.
My thanks to all who made today possible – especially Angela Smith, MP, who has already invested a huge amount of time getting us to the starting post in Parliament. We are not there yet. We will know tomorrow (Tuesday) around 5.30 pm whether we have our debate.
OK – here are the phantom notes that I didn’t use …
BRIAN MAY SPEECH TO MPs – HOUSE OF COMMONS
15 October 2012 ]Good afternoon ! On behalf of Team Badger, welcome to our mobilisation meeting for the debate we hope to have in the Commons on. Our appreciation to Angela Smith MP, who has organised it so brilliantly.
Why am I here? I’m a rock star, right ? But I can assure you I don’t need the publicity. I don’t need glory. I don’t have a single to sell, I’m not looking for a new manager. I’m here because I believe we are about to witness a tragedy in our countryside. An irreversible destruction of a community of highly intelligent animals that were here in the UK long before humans, and have just as much right to live in peace as we do. A tragedy brought about by an attempt to solve a farming problem that WILL NOT EVEN WORK.
We’re here because, in the space of only 10 days, 100,000 British people signed up on an e-petition on Her Majesty’s government’s website, calling for the proposed cull of badgers to be abandoned. The petition is now over 155,000, and may well become the biggest response to a petition ever, on this website. It confirms that the vast majority of the British Public finds the killing of thousands of mainly health badgers morally repugnant, and does not believe that this is the price we should be paying for our pint of milk, especially as it has been shown to be unlikely to make things any better for the farmers.
Today we have representatives from all our member Animal-aware organisations … again, showing that essentally ALL the relevant NGOs in Britain, for the first time EVER, are united in this campaign … … RSPCA, IFAW, LACS, The Humane Society International, Blue Badger, Animal Aid, PETA, Stroud 100, Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting, Born Free, RSPB, and Save-Me, my own initiative for wild animals. All of these member organisations have worked hard to get us to this point.
The letters from the accredited experts in Bovine TB in the Guardian this weekend confirm that scientific opinion is not split on this matter … it is completely united against the cull.
I have personally been in conversation with the NFU for more than a year, I know that the pro-cull movement has an emotional committment to culling as a solution, but we believe that the arguments in favour have all been shown to be deeply flawed, and that the weight of scientific opinion and public opinion against this slaughter threatens to make this government very unpopular if they go ahead now, especially since, with the arrival of the DIVA test, the vaccination of cows is now imminently possible.
It is a dream come true that, in this room, are assembled MPs from ALL parties, who are passionate about saving the lives of these magnificent, intelligent, fully sentient and family-orienated creatures, and will advocate for us, in the House , if we are granted this debate a humane and workable long-term solution to dealing with the problem of bTB in cattle.
We proudly welcome our core team … our leaders in the call for a debate –
ALISON McGOVERN (lab),
HENRY SMITH (cons),
ADRIAN SANDERS (lib),
CAROLINE LUCAS (green).
Thank you for hoisting the flag ! Our currently committed supporting MPs confirmed, are …
Ah ! and I nearly forgot ! Here are the warriors who will lead our initiative in the House, if we should be so lucky. These are the Ministers we are proud to say will be (figuratively) carrying our TeamBadger banner.
We salute them !
Cheers all ! Especially all the great TeamBadger supporters out there who got us to 100,000 signatures. You are why we are here.
May we ask you one more favour? Write to your MP one more time. Tell your MP you expect him to stand up against the slaughter of British Badgers for not a good enough reason. Tell him the science behind the cull does not hold up. Tell him it’s ethically unjustifiable. Tell him probably 90 per cent of his constituents – even in rural areas – are against the cull. Tell him you need him to stay in the House and vote – and be on the winning team.