Tomorrow’s (March 13, 2014) Backbench Business Committee debate in the House of Commons in support of a motion relating to the badger cull states that this:
House believes that the pilot badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset have decisively failed against the criteria set out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in guidance to Natural England for licensing of the culls[.]
The motion is brought by Mrs Anne Main, Conservative MP for St Albans, who states on her website that:
I have a great sympathy for farmers on this difficult issue and believe something has to be done to tackle Bovine TB. However this needs to be an effective policy and the pilot culls have failed on all of the Government’s own criteria, including humaneness. I cannot support an ineffective policy that condones the inhumane killing of a protected species and does not deliver on an effective way of tackling Bovine TB.
The UK’s government’s policy to kill badgers to stop the spread of TB in dairy cattle in England was criticised by its own Independent Expert Panel into pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire. Details from the IEP report were leaked recently. According to The Daily Telegraph, the IEP concluded that the culls ‘were ineffective and too many animals suffered needlessly.’
Conservative MP for Hastings and Rye, Amber Rudd, has supported the cull when it has been voted upon in the House of Commons. I emailed her on March 6 asking for her support by voting in favour of a motion being debated in the House of Commons tomorrow. Ms Rudd replied on March 11 saying in part that
I assure you that I am listening carefully to the different views that are being expressed by Constituents of Hastings and Rye. I know that you have strong views on this and I am always grateful to get you expert opinion on these matters.
Whereas parts of the Hastings and Rye constituency are rural which may include some dairy farms, most of her constituents live in the urban area of Hastings. The electorate in the constituency is 76,422 but the population of Hastings is about 86,900. Further, the constituency is home to many badgers and their setts. Many constituents appreciate living alongside badgers. Even if they don’t because they dig up their lawns or trample their allotments, they are generally not supportive of killing badgers. One national YouGov poll stated ‘opponents outnumber supporters of the cull by 42%-35%.’
Of particular note is that Hastings and Rye is a marginal constituency. In the last general election Amber Rudd won 41.1% (20,468) of the vote but her Labour opponent, Michael Foster, came a close second with 37.1% (18,475).
It is my sincere hope that Ms Rudd will change her position from supporting the badger cull to voting against it in tomorrow’s debate. Friends of badgers such as myself will be watching closely. The badger cull may well be the decisive issue that determines whether Ms Rudd is reelected at the next general election.