The Sketch: Not everything is black and white in the battle of the badgers

There was a plea for 'team cattle' and 'team badger' to unite in their love of countryside

Share
Related Topics

Flood. Plague. Pestilence. These were the big themes in the Commons yesterday. In fact MPs couldn't get enough of them. By the end you'd have thought the whole country had been visited with some biblical-scale retribution.

It escalated rapidly through questions to the bullish, some might even say brutalist, new Environment Secretary Owen Paterson on the inadequacy of flood insurance, the threat to bumble bees from pesticides, to the minister's announcement that he intended a "ban on imports and tight restrictions on ash movements" to deal with the "horrific danger to our 80 million ash trees" from dieback disease.

And this was just a warm-up for the big debate on the blight of bovine TB and the plan for "controlled shooting" of badgers blamed by the NFU for its spread. Supporting a cull, the Tory MP Anne McIntosh made a valiant plea for "Team badger" and "Team cattle" to unite in their love of the countryside. But while each paid lip service to the plight of their less favoured beast, emotions were too charged for this. At one point Labour's Andrew Miller responded to the pro-cull "Bosnia" Bob Stewart, Tory MP and much decorated former Army officer, "I know that the hon. Gentleman is fascinated with firearms, but shooting badgers will not work..."

They argued about the science and about the merits of vaccination as an alternative.

Even before the debate, Paterson had repeatedly stated the need for "pilot" culls, telling MPs the "trauma" inflicted on farmers of the "appalling loss — 26,000 cattle last year," while Labour's Barry Sheerman told him the cull was wrong "because these wonderful creatures roamed this country before we did and ... it would destroy tens of thousands of living animals."

Much earlier, MPs had decided to take literally Richard II's appeal to sit down and "tell sad stories of the death of kings". But it was another English king and Shakespearian anti-hero, Richard III, they wanted to discuss now that some archaeologists have dug up what they think may be his bones in a car park in Leicester.

Sir Tony Baldry, representing the Church Commissioners, indicated that by tradition the right place for burying the Ricardian remains would be Leicester Cathedral, and then reassured the Commons that those of all other kings and queens had been accounted for except "Henry I, who seems to have got lost somewhere in Reading after the dissolution of the monasteries."

Regishambles! Could Baldry, a Tory, though a genial and centrist one, have been subtly defending the present government by showing that even one run on Henry VIII's behalf by the ruthlessly efficient Thomas Cromwell had its competence problems?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A PHP Developer with knowledge ...

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Associate Recruitm...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Engineer - PHP

£33000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Polish minister Rafal Trazaskowski (second from right)  

Poland is open to dialogue but EU benefits restrictions are illegal and unfair

Rafal Trzaskowski
The report will embarrass the Home Secretary, Theresa May  

Surprise, surprise: tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have 'dropped off' the Home Office’s radar

Nigel Farage
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas