The Third Leader: Beastly prejudice

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The Independent Online

I refer, naturally, to the tensions between the grey and red squirrels. It is essentially an immigration problem: the greys arrived in the late 19th century; they were big and energetic; and so, in the way of these things, it was not long before they were being blamed for prospering at the expense of the native population.

All manner of measures have been applied, ranging from an early laissez-faire, free-market, multicultural approach, to the more recent dirigiste policy evidenced again yesterday in an announcement of plans to enforce separate development through special homelands, restricted movement, and worse.

The debate has seen much unhelpful Sarkozy-style abuse of the greys as vermin; now they are also being accused of infecting the reds with a lethal pox. Not quite so much publicity is given to the contention that more reds are killed by dogs and cats; or that the reds seem a bit wimpy as a symbol for a nation usually keen to stress its more robust attributes.

Surely, though, there is a third way. Instead of always complaining about the greys, couldn't we be nicer to them? What if we offered more of a helping hand, an alternative to their thieving, ravaging and encroaching? Altogether, please: nuts!

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