Parliamentary sketch – “It’s like herding badgers!”

Posted on: 1st November 2012

So, do we need yet another well paid politician to tell the police how to do their job?  Probably not.  But since the Conservatives got their way and Police Commissioners are to be created, we should make sure that we aren’t landed with a megalomaniac who becomes so overbearingly bombastic and unable to listen that they end up undermining the fragile morale that still exists amongst our men and women in blue.

That’s why, contrary to one of my parliamentary colleagues in their comment piece last week, I strongly believe that former Bobby, Brian Blake, the Liberal Democrat candidate, is clearly the person for the job.

As the only candidate with police experience – having worked for the local force for over 30 years he’ll know how the constabulary ticks, how to avoid the Police Commissioner post becoming an expensive diversion and how to stop this experiment resulting in catastrophe for local safety and security.

One job he may not have to oversee now is the prospect of keeping the peace during a cull of badgers across our countryside; as marksmen and animal rights activists play out war games in a battle which has spilled out from the Palace of Westminster this week.

The stalled Badger culling pilots in Gloucestershire and Somerset represented the Government’s primary response to decades of Government prevarication, as bovine TB has ravaged the dairy and beef sector, and has caused devastation in our herds here in west Cornwall.  Meanwhile, Parliament has been heavily lobbied by ‘Team Badger’ and ‘Team Farmer’.  I’ve tried creating a new ‘Team Science’ – i.e. to firmly base policy on evidence-based sound science.  There seem to be more in the other two Teams than in mine.

I managed to upset Team Badger when I backed the badger culling experiment which came to this area over a decade ago.  I did so on the basis of needing the evidence to guide future policy.  And last week I may have disappointed Team Farmer when I dared to suggest that the Government’s badger culling pilots risked making the situation worse; the incidence of disease outbreaks on farms even worse.  As I pointed out, this assessment was based on the best available science.

I don’t believe that the Government’s policy on badger culling can be carried through, and if it were it’s unlikely to come down here.  So, I’m now asking Team Farmer to work with Team Badger, guided by Team Science; to roll out a vaccination programme across west Cornwall.  I hope it won’t be like trying to herd badgers!  Badger vaccines are being trialled elsewhere and a usable cattle vaccine isn’t far off now.  I believe that west Cornwall – which is, after all, one of the areas most affected by bovine TB – should not be left behind, and just wait for another decade to pass as nothing happens.