The League Against Cruel Sports has just spent an amazingly successful few days in Parliament, which culminated in a decisive vote in the House of Commons on Thursday evening (25th October) to abandon the Government’s planned badger cull by 147 votes to 28.
It’s been an intense, but immensely rewarding week for the League and for our Team Badger coalition partners; a week that has, for the time being at least, reprieved thousands of badgers from an unnecessary and cruel death.
On Tuesday, we got the welcome news from the Government that the cull had been postponed. However, as this was portrayed as being just a temporary reprieve, until next summer, we still went ahead with our planned lobby of Parliament on Wednesday. We began with a boat ride along the Thames, including in front of the House of Parliament. Many of our staff and supporters dressed as badgers, with the dancing skills of the Artful Badgers and with the samba drummers of Rhythms of Resistance, we brought a spectacular black and white display to an otherwise grey and drizzly London!
We then moved on to the House of Commons itself for a lobby of Parliament and a meeting in Parliament, which was kindly arranged by Angela Smith, MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge. We heard from a number of inspiring speakers, including the League’s own Chief Executive, Joe Duckworth and Bill Oddie, our Vice President. Hundreds of people turned up to listen to the evidence against the cull, and then petitioned their own Member of Parliament to encourage them to turn up to the debate and support the motion against the cull.
Thursday was the big day of the debate itself. Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, began by outlining the scientific evidence against the cull and was supported by an array of speakers, from all sides of the political spectrum. It was an excellent five and a half hour discussion that challenged the Government’s belligerent view, and offered constructive alternatives to the cull, that will help eradicate the terrible disease of bovine TB.
You can read the full debate on Hansard at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm121025/debtext/121025-0002.htm#12102527000744
Finally, when it came to the vote, the motion calling on the Government to abandon its policy on culling was emphatically endorsed by Parliament with a 119 majority. This was a great success and proof that our voice has been heard loud and clear in Westminster. We would like to say a very big thank you to all those who have supported us. It wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our colleagues in Team Badger, and particularly Brian May, whose e-petition (which you can still sign if you have not already done so at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257) made it possible to have this vital debate.
However, as decisive as the vote was, it isn’t binding, unfortunately, and doesn’t mean the Government has to change its policy. It is all the more vital, therefore, that we keep the pressure on DEFRA over the next few months and encourage them to listen to the scientific evidence and work with the farming community to produce an effective bovine TB vaccine. Badgers have had a stay of execution, but remain on death row. It’s now time for a full pardon for this much loved and currently very high profile creature.