Articles published in the Daily Mail
related to Animal Welfare
Vegetarian rock stars don't vote Tory. I did. But I'll never vote for Cameron after his bloody badger cull, says BRIAN MAY
Article - 25 August 2012
I’ve done many things over the years that surprise people. I ate my fair share of bacon sandwiches on the road with Queen. I’ve often labelled myself as a Conservative – something that doesn’t always go down too well from a member of a rock band.
But, just as a gradual realisation of what farming actually did to animals (starting with veal calves and foie gras) made me become a vegetarian, once I knew what a David Cameron Government had in store for Britain’s wildlife, and badgers in particular, I knew I had to square up and fight against his particularly nasty kind of Conservatism.
In probably less than a month’s time, Cameron’s Government plans to start killing thousands of badgers, a protected species, in ‘pilot’ culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset. The lucky ones will die quickly. Others, targeted by high-powered rifles on night shoots, will be maimed or wounded to crawl away to a slow, painful death.
Why should I care? I’m that bloke who risked his reputation on top of Buckingham Palace ten years ago at the Golden Jubilee, and who stepped out alone (and played live, I might add), at the Closing Ceremony of the Olympics. I’m only a musician. And privately, I’m quiet by nature. But I now feel compelled to risk my reputation by speaking out against what I believe to be gross abuses of the animals around us. To give animals a voice.
Badgers matter. They are a key species, an intrinsic element in our delicate ecosystem. Their removal would have as yet poorly understood consequences for other species such as hares, foxes and hedgehogs.
They are also highly intelligent, sentient creatures. So why the cull? It is being pursued on the pretext of ‘doing something’ about the problem of bovine TB.
Yet that ‘something’ is immoral, demonstrably unjustifiable by science, and will ultimately cost the farmer, and you – the taxpayer – a fortune.
Nevertheless, Cameron, Agriculture Minister Jim Paice and Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman cling to this appalling policy, and one can only assume that they are pandering to a powerful farming leadership who helped elect them. Yet even the National Farmers Union admits killing badgers on this scale will not solve the problem. I’m not an extremist. But I am utterly opposed to pointless and wanton cruelty. Understanding of our responsibility towards animals begins with small things. It begins with the realisation that killing to solve a problem is never the answer.
One of the most pitiful sights in any garden is a line of straggly marigolds surrounded by blue slug pellets, and the sickening spectacle of slugs and snails writhing in agony.
Calm down, Brian, you may say, they’re only slugs and snails. But think about it. When did you last see a hedgehog in your garden? Well, your slug pellets have poisoned hedgehogs too, along with birds and anything else in contact with them, including very possibly your pets and your children.
Or take the urban fox. Few people appreciate what an important part they play as our partners in city living. As scavengers, they help keep our environment clean, and keep the rat population at a manageable level. So what happens when they rummage through the bin we haven’t secured properly?
We call the ‘pest control’ man who’ll put out bait. The result? The rats have a day in the sun before more foxes move in from other neighbourhoods. The killing achieves nothing.
So I, along with the RSPCA, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the League Against Cruel Sports, Born Free, The Badger Trust, and many others will be trying to enlist your help in the next few weeks to stop Cameron’s bloody plan for badger butchering.
Bloody badger butchering? Perhaps that makes me sound like a violent extremist, which is how peaceful dissenters like me are often portrayed. Anyone who dares to disagree with the NFU or the Countryside Alliance is branded a nutter. Yet in all my time as a campaigner for animals I have never met a ‘violent’ protester. People who love animals are naturally peaceful.
David Cameron leads a new generation of Tories hell-bent on bringing back bloodsports – to make it once again legal to tear apart foxes and stags with packs of dogs, and to bring back the despicable ‘sport’ of hare-coursing. What were we thinking, giving these people that power? How can they possibly understand the wishes of the common man? There is nobody in our Government who represents the interests of wild animals.
So we who have elected to be a voice for animals must fight peacefully against pro-hunters and cullers who are, by definition, motivated by violence. Every day we wake up in a war in which the other side holds all the aces. They can even withhold information, as they are now doing, as to when and where this shooting will take place. So be very careful where you take your dog for a walk if you live in Somerset or Gloucestershire.
But the forces of peace and compassion can prevail. Think William Wilberforce and slavery. When we were in the process of organising the first 46664 concert for AIDS awareness with Nelson Mandela in 2004, Roger Taylor and I were lucky enough to spend several nights with the great man. By peacefully, doggedly, sticking to his principles, he achieved for black South African citizens what we must now achieve for the other creatures with which we share this planet – a recognition that they have feelings and rights just like us.
And it is time for their rights and feelings, and welfare, to be respected. It will be a long walk. But I believe absolutely that we will get there. The first steps in this country will be to abort this disgraceful, tragic, and pointless killing of badgers. The cull must be stopped. The next step will be to shore up the Hunting Act and make it impregnable, enforced to the letter. There must be no return to the barbaric past.
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