Speech Notes


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.


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 bloody-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. 


© brianmay.com