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Liz Truss is no friend of Mr Badger

17 July 2014

What some people seem to forget is that Owen Paterson wasn’t (and Liz Truss isn’t) just Environment Secretary. As well as having responsibility for the environment, the role also covers food, fisheries and rural affairs. Paterson was one of the few people in Government that many farmers thought of as being ‘on their side’. As Secretary of State at Defra, he always appeared to have the interests of the rural community and the countryside at the centre of his decisions.

As Melissa Kite argues in her cover piece this week, Cameron appears to have given in to ‘the animal rights lot’. As she rightly says, ‘They wanted Owen Paterson’s head on a platter and Cameron has given it to them.’ Friends of the Earth’s Andy Atkins has already been quoted as saying that ‘David Cameron is right to give Owen Paterson the boot – he’s the worst Environment Secretary the UK has had for decades,’ and it’s no surprise that they’re pleased he’s gone.


Will Liz Truss be a minister in the Paterson mould or will she side more with the green lobby? Her past form would suggest the former. Although she doesn’t appear to have a rural background, her constituency of South West Norfolk is most certainly a rural one, and she seems keen to fight for her constituents. Her website has previously stated that:

‘Elizabeth has a number of concerns about the use of agricultural land for solar or biomass plants and the subsidies for these operations…She does not want to see the UK’s food security jeopardised; food and farming is the largest manufacturing industry in the UK and she is keen to see that the importance of this sector is recognised.’

She has twice voted in favour of the pilot badgers cull — one of Paterson’s most controversial decisions in the role. And she has also been a firm supporter of a third runway at Heathrow, something that environmentalists, including Tory MP Zac Goldsmith, are staunchly against.

Many of her previous stances on both the environment and rural policy have been focused on addressing the concerns of her constituents, which is no bad thing. Flooding has been an issue in the area, and her website states that she ‘has long argued that the £1:£8 cost benefit ratio formula provided by the Environment Agency for the funding of flood prevention schemes do not value farmland high enough.’ It isn’t just the residents of South West Norfolk who will appreciate this stance, but many rural communities.

I’m not going to argue that Liz Truss is the best person for the job — or deny that she might have been better placed elsewhere in government. But, at the same time, she’s perhaps not going to be the ally that the likes of Greenpeace and Brian May might have wished for.

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  • Gizzard Puke

    I have no strong opinions about badgers but I respect the campaigning of the great Brian May on the issue.

  • itdoesntaddup

    Perhaps the more important appointment is the replacement for the
    hapless Chris Smith at the Environment Agency. A big win for Paterson
    now it has just been approved:

  • Smithersjones2013

    Is this some sort of strange Tory $exual code?

    Should the response be? :

    “But she is well regarded in beaver circles”

    Given the appallling state of Water Management in this country, the damage HS2 will do, the damage windfarms are doing and the whole shale debate one would have thought banging on about Badgers is a ridiculous trivialisation of Truss. That another woman has done it demonstrates just how trivial ‘Cameron’s Cougars’ are viewed

  • dalai guevara

    Yes, all these distinctly underperforming ministers have now gone. Paterson was clearly the archetype, the blue print of repeat failure. Of course, if these women are as clever as they appear to be at first sight, they will do everything to continue the work in their predecessors’ footsteps. Why think for themselves? All the hard work has already been done for them, lessons learnt and so on bla bla bla. Oh why do women always demand having everything presented to them on a plate?

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …and you are not an environmentalist, you are a socialist nutter .

  • swatnan

    We need more people like Harry Hill, Friends of Badgers to take on the fight for Badgers Rights.

    • Conway

      I’m sure if they burrowed under your foundations you’d be less impressed to find out that they had more rights than you do.

  • Tim Baker

    Liz Truss would make a great Tory leader one day

    • an ex-tory voter

      Irrelevant to this article.

  • Roger Broad

    This is not as you say pandering or not to the Green lobby. If there is a serious infectious disease in the Farming Community out there. Then it more a case of listening to and acting upon the available science and its experts. As opposed to showing contempt for the electorate and a prejudice against such Science. Paterson did all of that. Warwick University has recently added to that Science in a report of July 2014.” whilst badgers form part of the environmental reservoir they only play a relatively minor role in the transmission of infection.” “The study suggests that improved testing, vaccination of cattle and culling all cattle on infected farms would be the most effective strategies for controlling the disease.” Will Ms Truss follow Paterson and the Gun Policy or understand the available science and its experts. You are unlikely to eradicate an infectious disease with a Bullet.

    • an ex-tory voter

      Typical of the environmental lobby. Will Ms Truss “understand” the available science and it’s experts?
      In other words we know better, not only that we but know better than those who have farmed the land for generations. God save us from experts!!

      • Roger Broad

        You can provide the evidence of what killing some 1900 Badgers last year actually contributed to the eradication of Bovine TB. How many of those Badgers were BTB infected ? And the Comparison is Wales where no controversy and vastly lower costs and no Badger Slaughter produced significant results in the number of cattle slaughtered for BTB. Sometime in your life Farmer or not you will “Understand” the contribution of Science to many areas of Human and Animal science. The article was titled Ms Truss is no friend of Mr Badger. The comment made is relevant. Ms Truss has some 8 Months leaving aside the parliamentary recess to absorb, understand and act upon the raft of environment issues before another election. It is like a Football manager putting all his Subs on the Pitch with only 5 minutes to play. Maybe you strike lucky.If they were that good you would have brought them on at half time. Not Gambled on results.

        • an ex-tory voter

          The relevant comparison is not Wales versus any other area, the comparison is “before and after” Badgers were designated a protected species.

          I stand by what I said.

          • Roger Broad

            You provide the evidence of how many Badgers Killed last year had BOVINE TB . And you are welcome to challenge the findings of Warwick University. “whilst badgers form part of the environmental reservoir they only play a relatively minor role in the transmission of infection.” “The study suggests that improved testing, vaccination of cattle and culling all cattle on infected farms would be the most effective strategies for controlling the disease”

            • an ex-tory voter

              I do not wish to challenge what is an irrelevance. Let Warwick come up with an analysis of past and present levels of Bovine TB in cattle with reference to the introduction of the ban on killing Badgers and I will be interested.
              As for inoculation and culling, these “solutions” are typically leftist as they will be funded from the public purse, whereas control by the farming community was funded by that community alone. Let Warwick suggest something which costs the public purse less.

              • Roger Broad

                You can make the comparison yourself some £4000 per badger killed by DEFRA /NFU around £8 million pounds and less than £1 million per year in Wales . In England almost nil reduction in Bovine TB in Cattle. In Wales (no badger killing) a drop in bTB slaughtered cattle of some 40% + You need Competent Science and Competent politicians. So the public purse gains if you reduce the Number of BTB Cattle slaughtered But if you dont want to eradicate long term Bovine TB. and prefer killing healthy Badgers then join Paterson and the new thinking at the Environment Dept.

                • an ex-tory voter

                  There are lies, there are damn lies and there are statistics.

                  As for £4000 to kill a badger, outrageous. The farming community have controlled the badger population for centuries at a cost of £0 to the public purse. Now we have DEFRA involved it has escalated to £4k and that ignores all the “experts” sucking at the public teat in support of DEFRA and the cuddly badger lobby.

              • Clued-Up

                The Warwick model looked at ALL measurable factors potentially influencing the amount of cattle bTB and the pattern of the spread of disease within the UK. They were guided by around 15 years high quality national and local data.
                On the basis of this data, the model they developed was able to predict very accurately ON THEORETICAL GROUNDS ALONE the changes in cattle bTB that records show actually happened.
                What the Warwick model shows conclusively is that “cattle” factors provide a complete explanation for the spread and maintenance of bTB in UK cattle herds since good records first became available. .
                The researchers did have a broad-brush category of “environmental” factors in which the possible role of badgers in bTB spread was considered. The badger data wasn’t up to much (the evidence basis implicating badgers in bTB has always been extremely flimsy and not enough to justify ANY badger cull). That said, the researchers probably over-stated any possible implication of badgers in spreading bTB to cattle when constructing their model.
                What the researchers found was that cattle factors are enough in themselves to explain how the disease has developed and sustained itself within the UK. Badgers either don’t spread cattle bTB at all – or they spread such infinitesimally small amounts of the disease that they’re not worth worrying about.

                • an ex-tory voter

                  Only 15 years data, conveniently ignoring the period prior to the classification of badgers as a protected species. The only relevant data is that which includes the period prior to the protection of badgers.

                • Clued-Up

                  The model explains virtually ALL of what’s been happening as regards cattle bTB over a 15 year period and says cattle factors alone explain near enough 100% disease spread. Can’t you see those facts make the NFU / DEFRA fixation with badgers a nonsense?
                  You’d have to ask the researchers whether they ran the model to cross-check its predictions on old records about cattle bTB from the 1950s and 1960s onward. If good enough records exist then the researchers probably did check how well the model explained all the historic data.
                  Insisting that badgers are of any importance in the spread of cattle bTB against solid evidence (from the Warwick model and other research studies) that they do not is akin to believing that witches spoil the milk.

          • Conway

            The 1972 Wildlife Act was an exercise in unintended consequences.

          • ButcombeMan

            And you are correct but broadening the argument out to include other wild life is surely the way to win this.

            Badger are vermin.

        • Dougie

          The ploy seemed to work with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, why not with Liz Truss?

    • ButcombeMan

      Irrespective of TB transmission, we should remove the general protection from Badgers for a three year experimental period, to lower overall population levels, while of course, maintaining a ban on baiting and digging out.

      Badgers are now vermin, causing huge damage to hedgehog, bees and wasps

      The damage to wild bees is quite astonishing.

      The only predator of badger is the motor car, too many are maimed every evening to crawl away and die in a ditch. A smaller badger population would be healthier and much better for other wildlife.

  • an ex-tory voter

    No matter how sympathetic Liz Truss may be to agriculture and rural communities, she is “not” Owen Patterson. His removal says far more about team Cameron and it’s priorities / principles than does her appointment.

  • The Bellman

    But the re-shuffle has already sent a clear message: if the blobs in your policy area can create a plausible ‘narrative’ that you are unpopular with their members/teachers/parents/’scientists’/etc, eventually Cameron will sack you. I’m sure Ms Truss has many admirable qualities, but the background to her appointment has not exactly set her up for success.

    • SimonToo

      Were Cameron being crafty, he might be removing the ministers against whom, over the years, the blobs have managed to fuel a widespread personalised objection with like-minded newcomers, against whom the blobs have less than a year before the general election to try to personalise a campaign.


    • John Matthews

      well the science minister was v popular with his ‘blobs’ and has gone same can be said for the attorney general.

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