VEGA News Item

Conservation and Conservatism - 07/04/2010

Broken Britain and its Countryside Deserves Better Than Hunting with Dogs

1.  Apparently a number of industrialists and businessmen have written a letter to the papers claiming that the present government’s plans for taking the UK out of the Recession are exaggerating the severity of the austerity and economics that will be needed.

2.  Oldies among the voters can moan that we’ve been through all of this before: in the early 1950s and late 1940s beggared Britain rose to the challenges of hunger, famine, and disease, not just in Europe, but across much of the planet and territories that were still colonies or dominions of the European nations. There were not only the major foes, some now newly turned to join the united nations who had sided with the victors or who had been neutral (such as Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland), but others (such as France, Belgium, and Italy – as well as Germany) who had looming problems as they strived for independence. Britain and France were at war for 2 years in the 1940s after the surrender to Germany. Churchill complained that the French fought more effectively against us than in their resistance to Germany before the withdrawal of our army from Dunkirk.

3.  Analogies can be found everywhere. British attitudes to French and Belgian eating habits saw an almost veggie Britain, almost on its knees, halting exports of live equines to continental slaughterhouses to be killed for their meat. This was easily achieved by a curious coalition of hunts and animal welfarists and haulers and businessmen opposed to a traffic that has extended to other species and is still not fully resolved. In the post-WW2 years minimum value regulations and the restraints of “free” trade allowed minimum value rules to be set up, so that vanners, pet ponies, and worn out horses could not be exported for slaughter; however, they were killed in the UK and the meat was exported. Lord Dowding, hero of the Battle of Britain, began the attack on methods of ritual/religious killing for meat, in the hope that such alien customs would not take root again in the UK. He was shot down in the Lords on this, but at least it showed that in our finest hours we had time for decent behaviour towards our domestic animals and wildlife.

4.  By 1973 the RSPCA’s campaign succeeded in halting the exports of live calves, but the trade in “heavy cows” (barrenners) continued and a minimum weight restriction was applied, but at 50kg some calves were born over this weight, so it was not effective and the RSPCA and other animal-welfare organizations began attempts at reforming the movements of surplus livestock from the dairy-industry or, as BTB returned, culling. A decision is imminent on the prospects for a TB vaccine that for various technical reasons will entail immunization of all badgers in the UK or certain regions. So politicians may be forced before the General Election to pause before rushed actions on the anti-Hunting Act and connotations in conservation and conservatism and the costs of land for leisure, recreation or food production, holiday homes, and hotels. These are matters in which the conservatives’ consortium of businessmen and industrialists could offer serious experience in the wellbeing of town and country. And the spite with which the PM is being assailed does not auger well, especially for the oldies who remember those reforming earnests of 60 or so years ago.

5.  We may also bewail the inability of UK United to duck responsibilities to the stricken populations of Haiti. The island is nearer to the West Indies than marginal seats in the new overfed rotten boroughs of such resources that might be scraped together by the Bankers of Belize. The French have also raised a South Atlantic poser: the islands of Reunion and Guadeloupe for instance, rank as parts of the EU, rather as the Isle of Wight and the Shetlands are to the UK and EU. Argentina has a different status and is at southerly latitudes with a lot of harsh weather and hardy sheep, but the Malvinas are attracting attention for their value for oil and their challenges to the armed forces expensively disposed again in faraway places.

6.  Much land in the UK is now being reserved for industrial use and improved transport services and leisure activities. The price of land is steadily rising and space is being held in reserve for shopping, markets, and business purposes. Less and less can accommodate farming, horticulture, and associated pursuits such as hunting, shooting, and fishing and by ownership of large estates. Therefore future governments must plan to accommodate these activities, possibly resorting to the usufruct of “ghost acres” overseas, such as South America for meat, food, and feed, unless radical economies are made in diet (for which we have been preparing plans for the Food Standards Agency and DEFRA).

7.  Therefore the anti-Hunting legislation deserves much more consideration than a trivialized repeat. It needs revisions and extensions suitable for repair of the damage done by ignoring the earnest consideration of values that certainly older inhabitants cherish from the aspirations of WW2.

8.  Confidence in the pound has gone and trust in the City bankers and income from “intellectual property” and research will have a struggle to be regained. If we have lost confidence in the City how can we expect investments from overseas or travel through our “hubs” when our chances of repairing broken Britain are better challengingly underestimated rather than fecklessly overlooked.


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