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Fury at RSPCA 'attitude on badger cull'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 17, 2012

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A leading animal welfare charity is taking a cynical stance on the pilot badger culls in the South West, a Westcountry MP has warned farmers.

Conservative MP Neil Parish told a meeting of farmers yesterday that their industry must unite against the unhealthy "attitude" of the RSPCA. And he claimed that the RSPCA's stance on TB – and calls by its chief executive Gavin Grant for badger marksmen and farmers allowing culls on their land to be named and shamed – had more to do with raising the organisation's profile, and precious public funds.

Speaking to 60 farmers at the annual open meeting of the Devon branch of the National Farmers' Union (NFU), the MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said: "It is worth asking why the hierarchy of the RSPCA is taking this attitude.

"They have taken a position where they just want to raise money," said Mr Parish, chairman of the Parliamentary Animal Welfare Committee. "By taking this attitude they have lifted their profile to enhance their support."

Mr Parish, an ex-farmer who chaired the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee when he was an MEP, said he wanted to be controversial about the RSPCA because of the attitude taken over the culls, and Mr Grant's statement on a BBC Panorama programme about identifying people involved in the cull.

Mr Parish had spoken in the Parliamentary backbencher debate on the proposed cull, which is part of the Government's programme to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis, responsible for the deaths of 26,000 cattle last year. In that debate the Government had been soundly defeated, attracting only 28 votes in favour of the cull.

"That was because the Government decided it was a back-bench vote and did not get involved," he said. "If that vote had been whipped (as in a full parliamentary debate) the Government would have won." Mr Parish said it was right that the pilot culls in West Somerset and the Tewkesbury area of Gloucestershire had been postponed this year because there was not enough time – but he was adamant they would go ahead next summer.

It had been a nonsense to try to start the culls so late in the year, he said.

"We have a long way to go, because people don't understand what it's really all about, which is disease control. Nearly 6,000 cattle were lost to the disease in Devon alone last year – and a lot of them were young dairy heifers.

"But the public does not understand the implications of that loss.

"We shall have to punch above our weight to get our message across."

One way would be to recruit the Young Farmers' Clubs to use social media and spread the message that way, he stressed.

Fran Barnes, the NFU's head of strategic communications, said the social media was vital – and that wrong information published on it should not go unchallenged. She urged members to use Twitter to get across the true facts and to counter downright wrong information.

But the RSPCA's opposition to the badger cull was not a publicity stunt, the charity insisted.

A spokesman said: "While it is true the charity is facing financial challenges – the same could be said of many organisations. It is unacceptable for the NFU and others to attack the RSPCA's chief executive Gavin Grant, who has the full support of the RSPCA for advocating a position we have held for years.

"The RSPCA has a responsibility to advocate in accordance with our charitable purposes and that is precisely what we are doing on this scientifically flawed, inhumane and unnecessary cull of badgers."

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  • Barri  |  June 23 2013, 4:41PM

    Why is Mr Parish Chairing the Parliamentary Animal Welfare Committee, when he can't be bothered about Animal Welfare ?

  • GilesB  |  December 02 2012, 2:32PM

    I the RSPCA is serious about 'aiming to prevent animal cruelty' the first thing it should do is sack it's vice president Brian May. Brian May takes a position on deer management that is diametrically opposed to that of the RSPCA who quite rightly support deer culling. Brian May's despicable views on wildlife management if implemented would lead to enormous suffering and great cruelty. He is a very evil cruel man.

  • Kindanimal  |  December 02 2012, 10:31AM

    The comments alleging that the RSPCA are only using the badger cull to raise its profile and bring in funds, is absolutely outrageous. It is doing exactly what its subscribers expect it to - aiming to prevent animal cruelty - just as it states in its title. And furthermore, I wonder how many of the accusers know that the statistics have always shown that more cattle deaths occur through poor biosecurity than caused through bTB. If farmers got their fingers out and concentrated on good husbandry and cleaning up their act, the total of cattle deaths would decrease considerably. I for one, am extremely happy that my subscription to the RSPCA is helping it to fight unnecessary and mass slaughtering of badgers. I am also exremely glad that the RSPCA are at last bringing prosecutions against some of the many Hunts that are hunting illegally. It seems to me that some of my rural neighbours always seek an answer to their problems by slaughtering our wild life, when the answers frequently lie in their own backyards.

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  • eyeopener  |  November 18 2012, 4:53PM

    @2ladybugs Some comments are not worth responding to: I will be content to let readers read what I have said, and what you have said, and draw their own conclusions.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  November 18 2012, 3:00PM

    @eyeopener, You are very clearly only ever trying to lay blame at people's doors, never trying to find a solution. I have noticed with most if not all of your comments,that you are always trying to diss people, be they commenters to these pages or the government or the NFU etc, etc, etc. I assume by your arrogance that you think that you are the only person in the entire universe who is right.!!!!!!! I don't usually do personal remarks as I find they never achieve anything. Diplomacy is usually the better path to try and take even if it goes against the grain (and in my case being diplomatic to all and sundry is certainly trying my patience,however, persevere I will). As I see it your only concern is the badgers, to the detriment of all other living mammals. I may have misinterpreted your comments but reading in TiG, TiS, TiD etc. you seem to swim between trying to run with all your anti-cull friends by being hostile, and on the very "odd" occasion trying to be polite to me. How about trying to use your own intelligence, as you do seem to have some. This problem needs to be sorted. Will you be happy if they found a test that would eventually prove which badgers are carriers and which aren't and if they are found positive would you agree to them being culled?? Actually the same as farmed animals are now.

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  • eyeopener  |  November 18 2012, 2:32PM

    @2ladybugs As for Oh and BTW Just because certain people i.e. Neil Parrish are capable of stringing, intelligent,knowledgeable aguments together, without having to resort to reading them from reams of paper, makes their side of things infinitely more believable." Does it? Originally I asked "Who are the public going to believe the leader of an organisation which has a track record of animal welfare since 1824; or the politician and Conservative MP Neil Parish, a member of a government that up to 31 May 2012 had performed 29 U-turns?" One might well instead have asked "If the government and Conservative MP Neil Parrish have a monopoly of intelilligence, how is it that they have had to perform so many U-turns? Last, but not least, it was the governments inability to count badgers accurately, and comply with the Natural England Cull Licence parameters that produced the delay; not any generosity to those against the cull.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  November 18 2012, 1:26PM

    @eyeopener Oh and BTW Just because certain people i.e. Neil Parrish are capable of stringing, intelligent, knowledgeable aguments together, without having to resort to reading them from reams of paper, makes their side of things infinitely more believable. Oh and as to your rather naff comment about government "U" turns......I would think that you and others would do well not to continually draw attention to them, (the "U" turns,) because it might just make them dig their heels in with regard to the culling of badgers. They won't want to look weak by doing yet another "U"-turn, after all, will they????? Here endeth my lesson for the day!!!!!

  • 2ladybugs  |  November 18 2012, 1:13PM

    @eyeopener You really do have a strange way of assimilating comments. Where did I mention anything about poor old Jennypenny red arrowing anybody??????? I can only assume that the person who green arrowed me last night (for which I thank them) was taking pity on me, me being the only person here who has not posted anything biased in my comments when giving information regarding the bTB problem. Now if I post something biased like "there has to be a cull" or "certain restrictions should be removed from the protection of badgers" then I will of course expect loads and loads of red arrows. However my last comment (12.10) will have rankled the pro-cullers and the anti-cullers so I can't really win.:((( So off you go everybody both for and against, as this comment is certain to upset both sides.......red arrow heaven, here we come. ...:))

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  • eyeopener  |  November 18 2012, 12:43PM

    @ 2ladybugs "@Jennypenny, that just goes to show you how pathetic some of you anti-cull lot are. They think that by red arrowing anybody that tells it like it is it will change things and that bTB will miraculously vanish from our countryside." Where is the evidence that Jennypenny red-arrowed anyone? I could be equally unfair and observe that the moment you posted on this topic all the arrows pointed the other way. Do these red arrow occurrences do anything other than make the case for abolishing the green and red arrow system? Its frequently manipulated and does anything but indicate reader opinion.

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  • eyeopener  |  November 18 2012, 12:35PM

    @2ladybugs It is quite funny to see that this is seen as a political problem when in fact it isn't. This is a health problem as bTB is a notifiable disease, i.e. the Health Authorities are notified. Regarding the political side of it, in the Commons debate, members from the opposition party were as much in evidence putting the case for a cull so it was by no means just a one-party affair." --- Bovine TB is a health problem but how you deal with it is political. It's true as you say that there may have been members from the opposition in favour of a cull just as there were Conservatives against the cull as well. However the NFU who are a wealthy industry pressure group have lobbied the government and as a result the government is trying to implement a cull. That means anyone disagreeing with the cull, not only has to marshall and present scientific evidence to influence public opinion against the cull; but they also have no choice, but to engage with the political process. Engaging the Conservative MP Neil Parish to speak at a meeting of farmers to rubbish the leader of the RSPCA was classic political spin; and it seems the pro-cull supporters are quite happy to use their political influence to get their way, but are extremely embarrassed if anyone says the issue is political. Of course they, and the government know that the public is against the cull; and the last thing they want is for the public to have a say.

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