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Labour leader Ed Miliband against Gloucestershire badger cull

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: September 29, 2012

Ed Miliband

Ed Miliband

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Labour leader Ed Miliband is against a badger cull, he has revealed as he sets out his plan to win the West seats needed for the return to power. has revealed how he plans to take back the West seats that Labour must secure to win a general election victory.

Speaking on the eve of his party’s autumn conference, which opens in Manchester today under the slogan “Rebuilding Britain”, he will announce plans to head a new jobs taskforce to tackle the “youth unemployment crisis” he has made his top priority.

Mr Miliband outlined his opposition to the controversial West badger cull – but warned there must be no intimidation of farmers taking part.

In stark contrast to 1997, when Tony Blair swept to power and Labour won more than a third of West seats, from Stroud and Wansdyke that had been Tory for decades. The party also triumphed in key Middle England seats such as to Gloucester and Swindon, it now has just two West seats, both in inner-city Bristol.

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Party strategists note Labour won just four seats across the whole of the South West at the 2010 election, and know they cannot return to government if you’re scoring like that.

Mr Miliband said: “The most important thing we can do is show to people how we can make a difference to their lives.

“People used to give the Coalition the benefit of the doubt, they now have real doubts about whether their plan is working, and I think people are right. to have those doubts.

“They don’t think the Coalition speaks for them. We have both an opportunity and obligation this week to show to people that things can be different.

“I know lots of people will say, actually we are fed up under the Coalition, but can things be any different under anybody? It’s a question lots of people are asking and I understand that, people are quite cynical about politics

“My job this week, which is a job I intend to carry out, is to say yes, things can be different. Things can be different in the short-term, and also, I think people know this in their guts, we have got to build a different economy in the future.

“A better balanced economy, a fairer economy between those at the top and everybody else, an economy where we don’t have powerful vested interests like the energy companies ripping people off.

“I think those themes speak directly to the concerns you are talking about, of people right across the country, but particularly in the areas you mentioned.”

Two pilot schemes of free shooting of badgers are planned for West Gloucestershire and Somerset, sparking calls by some activists for direct action.

The Labour leader stressed while he was not in favour of badger culling, as there was “no scientific evidence for it”, the law must be obeyed.

He said Labour had looked closely at how to tackle bovine TB when in power and did not believe the case for culling was proved.

“We don’t think it is the right answer, and I fear it will both upset people who care – for reasons I totally understand – deeply about the badger population of the UK, and it won’t solve the problem – that is what the science suggests.”

While unemployment is falling across the country, led by the South West, the number of youngsters stuck in the dole queue is still high.

Mr Miliband said: “My first priority as Prime Minister is to tackle this and it is one of the important things we will discuss at our conference this week.

“But I don’t want to wait two-and-a-half years, we want to act now. I will be chairing a youth jobs taskforce to work with councils across the country to see what we can do now to tackle the problem, not wait until we get into power.”

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  • 2ladybugs  |  October 06 2012, 12:02PM

    @acorncs ......I do so hope you are not asking me that question as to why badgers are so special, because if I put what I think, the comments on this report will soon reach 100 with all the anti-cull lot having a right old go at me. :((

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  • acorncs  |  October 06 2012, 11:47AM

    exactly. yes badgers have a right to be there but the countryside is an artificial environment now, with large predators now missing and most habitats from hedgerows to field margins to heather moorlands all there because of humans. all species now depend on man and our food production operations within rural areas. we have to manage them sensibly so we have the greatest number of species benefiting, when a certain species reaches numbers that affect human ability to produce food or earn a living we control them ie. rats, mice,rabbits. why are badgers so special?

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  • 2ladybugs  |  October 06 2012, 10:31AM

    Quote from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. Badgers are a natural predator of hedgehogs and hedgehogs actively avoid sites where badgers are present in high numbers. When the habitat provides sufficient cover and good foraging opportunities, badgers and hedgehogs can coexist, but when there is no safe refuge and the prey that the two species compete for are scarce, hedgehogs may be in serious trouble.

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  • acorncs  |  October 06 2012, 9:09AM

    many wildlife groups will tell you this ie. game conservatory trust. I presume you mean groups like rspb though? they wont say that as people then wouldnt donate millions to them. And yes i am quite knowledgable! lol but it is common sense really. if you were a farmer and a badger moved onto your land, even though you would love to see some about, would you take the risk?

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  • stormkettle  |  October 04 2012, 9:54PM

    If badger numbers were getting too big for their habitat and wiping out ground nesting birds and hedgehogs , I'd expect to hear this information from a wildlife organisation . Badgers rightly have legal protection from persecution by people who don't care for them. As for 'no country person would allow badgers to colonise their land', then you must be extremely knowledgable, or you've just made it up.

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  • acorncs  |  October 04 2012, 8:37PM

    yes but the english countryside is artificial, it needs constant management. we no longer have large predators in the uk, only man. when populations of any animal rise because of allsorts of artificial situations then management is needed. when badgers numbers rise to a level where they affect peoples livlehoods then what is so special about badgers that they cant be touched? Iv seen ground nesting birds and hedgehogs wiped out in local areas because of massive explosions in badger numbers. Badgers cant spread to other areas because no country person is daft enough to allow badgers to colonise their land because they are some sacred cow that no one can even disturb.fair enough my comment is about badgers in general not the cull but my comment still stands, many more people would give them a warmer welcome if they wernt so over protected.

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  • stormkettle  |  October 04 2012, 2:55PM

    If a badger eats a hedgehog, what's that got to do with the anti-cull discussion. Badgers behave naturally, and belong in the english countryside.

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  • acorncs  |  October 01 2012, 5:25PM

    some areas have to many badgers, they are a pest. they do damage. just cull to an acceptable level. whats wrong with that? if you have rats you get a pest controller in, no difference. there are now more packs of hounds in the uk than before the ban, our days are hardly numbered! get a grip.

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  • dodge102  |  October 01 2012, 11:55AM

    Badger cull in the interests of no one. Once again a British government has chosen to seek the best possible scientific advice and then ignore it! The licensed killing of badgers in parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset could achieve a number of things. It could further advertise the unwelcome existence of bovine tuberculosis in British dairy herds. It could polarise opinion in the countryside and unite political opposition everywhere else. It could cost the farmers involved more than they could gain. It will almost certainly provoke active protest and put even more pressure on already hard-pressed police forces. What it will almost certainly not do is limit bovine tuberculosis, even in the target zones of Gloucestershire and Somerset. It might be helpful to list those things that are certain. Human tuberculosis is a dangerous disease. Bovine tuberculosis is a real problem for dairy farmers – who in any case have been paid too little for their milk and who have been going out of business for decades – and the disease lives on in the wild badger population. But by 1996, a policy of identification and slaughter had reduced the incidence of bovine TB in dairy herds in England and Wales to less than half a per cent, and the risk of direct transmission to humans has – with the pasteurisation of milk – long ago become negligible. The last and most systematic examination of the link between badgers and bovine TB found that, indeed, there was transmission, and proposed a series of systematic, randomised controlled trials over a sustained period to see whether culling could provide an answer. In 2003, the government, farmers, public health officers and wildlife campaigners got the answer: shooting and gassing did not eliminate, and could possibly spread, the disease. That may be because badgers disturbed in one area could migrate, taking the infection with them. The answer, delivered by Lord Krebs and the distinguished statisticians and zoologists who examined the results, could hardly be clearer: killing will not solve the problem. Lord Krebs's scientific credentials are not in doubt. He was trusted by successive British governments to head the Natural Environment Research Council, and to chair the Food Standards Agency. And he has just described the latest plan as a "crazy scheme". http://tinyurl.com/bvjp9rv

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  • 2ladybugs  |  September 30 2012, 4:45PM

    whoops, "hardly"

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