Vote Labour, Vote Badger?

As demonstrated by the above, a vote for Labour now looks in the very best interest of farmers, cows, badgers, and all the other wild and domestic animals that develop bovine tuberculosis.

Why? Because a Labour Party  source quoted in the Daily Telegraph last week has confirmed that a ‘new Bovine TB eradication package’ would be developed by Labour if they win the upcoming General Election. It will prioritise eradicating bovine TB through vaccinations, herd management and biosecurity.

Last week they called the badger culls ineffective, based on published peer reviewed scientific evidence. This is a vital key step forwards. It signals the likely dropping of the current DEFRA  policy consultation proposals which are not to phase out badger culling as previously indicated by the 2020 policy. There should now be a fresh plan following the General  Election, that Labour are strong favourites to win with a working majority. Labour’s reported statement that they are confident about ending the badger culls will come into sharp focus on day-one of their term in office, as an ‘ineffective cull’ is unlawful under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, and Labour is  “..confident that we can end the cull..” . This is sending strong signals to supporters who will expecting prompt action from 5th July.

Sadly, the farming industry has misread the published science. Their public statements, like those of Defra Ministers, suggest that the recent APHA study shows badger culling brought bovine TB down. This has not been shown. The study incorrectly describes gamma testing and other test tightening that occurred alongside  badger culling during the key four year period described. It was actually an analysis of a policy of extensive cattle measures and badger culling combined; the effect of badger culling alone was not measured due to the type of analysis used, which was a very weak one. The result of all the misleading coverage in the farming press, is that most farmers have been misinformed about badger cull efficacy..

Prompt action towards a scientifically sound and effective new bTB policy will be needed, as the legal challenge of DEFRA’s seriously flawed March 14th policy Consultation will be in full swing by the first day of the new parliament. This will be a considerable task.

Legal communications with Defra in recent days confirm this potential. Defra say:  “… it is unlikely that any decision would be made in relation to the proposals contained in the Consultation until early August 2024 at the earliest. Furthermore, the fact of a general election gives rise to the possibility that there will be changes in Ministers or government and that currently proposed policies may be revisited in any event.”

So the civil servants, many of whom have stuck loyally to political masters in the face of crumbling evidence on badger cull efficacy, are already preparing for change if the current Conservative government fails to be re-elected.  

An ineffective badger cull should lead to the recall of  supplementary culling licences recently issued by Natural England, and a curtailment of the final years of intensive culling (that would otherwise end in 2025/6). But Labour will have a dilemma, because the farming sector representatives such as the NFU may have said they will challenge that legally. However, the Derbyshire cull area postponement case in 2019 suggests that would be futile. If the new policy was judged to be a political decision backed up by the latest science, it would stand little chance.

Hopefully this July can see a new broom sweep away the vested interests in the BTB Partnership and get the right people working on real solutions to end the ruinously expensive polices we have seen since 2010. Saving public money, saving  heartache, saving lives, stopping cruelty.

Furthermore, data suggests that 80 per cent of rural communities want an end to the rural hooliganism of trail hunting where badger setts and other burrows used by badgers are blocked or assaulted by out of control dogs

Roll on the election……….