Monday, 22 July 2013

Bill Badger and the Badger Bill

Someone once said the most informed and objective critic of newspaper journalism is your cat, whose susceptibility to the effects of media manipulation is demonstrated by what they do to any newspaper you line their dirt tray with.

Thinking inside the box at its best, I'm thinking.

How in the name of all that's twinkly do we form intelligent, unbiased, objective but above all informed opinions of our own, when so much of what we read is influenced by the editorial leanings of the Fleet Street keyboard thumpers?

Do they tell us what we need to hear, or what they know we'll buy?

Take badgers for instance, (not literally, too hard to swallow...)

Now anything involving wildlife is going to be tricky, and if the creature in question looks like  nature's blueprint for a cuddly toy you're into seriously dodgy territory already.

So, starting with the benchmark of "cute badgers spread bovine TB to lovely tasty cows" I set off in pursuit of some grown up facts and figures;

First port of call was an article by Jacob Rees Mogg, Conservative MP for NE Somerset who set forth the findings of the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Dept. of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (no, not the sort that involves a tumble in the hay with the barmaid from the Pig and Portfolio, the other sort)

Anyhoo, our learned friend (Eton, Oxford) and his senior scientific source put forward a pretty robust case for nipping out in the night and blowing Mr Brock and his stripy chums to kingdom come.

He hoped that 'the urban population will have some sympathy and tolerance for the needs of the rural community' which does make anyone with clean shoes sound like a farmer hating hoodie, but we'll let that one go.

Game, sett and match to them then?

Well, let's try the opposite point of view.

Today of all days, let's go Royal - the RSPCA.

I wasn't sure which way they'd swing on this one, as it's not so much about cruelty per se, but about having a sensible solution to a genuine problem.

If you visit their website they'll give you ten good reasons why creating a badger homage to WW1 in the meadows of dear old Blighty will create nothing more than  futile slaughter and expensive waste.

According to them the actual solution requires a complicated coordination of immunisation, limits on livestock movement, land management and herd isolation/removal from infected areas.

Oh, and putting fences round cowsheds so they can't mingle with the rural riff raff after lights out in the dorm.

So there we have it:

A simple 'blow their heads off and it'll (probably) go away' policy versus a carrier bag full of adjusted behaviour that would take a level of cooperation not seen since we all stopped slagging off the Olympics.

Me? I'm still not sure I've got all the facts before me, so I'll just have to rely on a comfy mix of well intentioned prejudice, guesswork and a smattering of cuddly toy related sentimentality.

Just like in the General Election.

Coincidentally, there is very visible indication that I'm not the only one who thinks this way on a bridge over the M32 into Bristol, which proves my point quite nicely.

I love it when that happens.

PS. For those, like the Somerset MP, who think this is just about rosy cheeked farmers in the shires, think again. Whenever it rains, we are visited by urban badgers who go through the flowerbeds like furry JCB's.
I don't mind, although it's a real bugger having to lock Daisy and Buttercup in the shed until they're done.