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Contradictions …I’m as “country as you” ..a view from the #badgercull

October 6, 2013


This evening I will go to the Harvest Festival Supper in my village hall after reading the lesson in the local church ….. I am not a Christian……..afterwards I will drive straight away to continue the #badgercull  nightwatch at # Forthampton as the last week of the scheduled cull begins.

I live in the heart of the Cotswold farming community and have worked in the Gloucestershire countryside most of my life bringing up two children in the Stroud Valleys and  playing cricket for Sheepscombe on Laurie Lee’s ground overlooking the Slad valley …try being more Cotswold than that.

These days I write about climate change and environmental issues..

My point I am a countryman but not insular. I have travelled extensively but unashamedly always returning to my first passion the #Cotswolds and West Country.

To dispose of the church involvement. I love the theatre of evensong and like Phillip Larkin *1 recognise that many of our ancient churches are repositories of a cultural history that’s far greater and often exceeds their tragically neglected state of repair and the last vestiges of rather poor Christian  attendance.

The harvest festival is a celebration of the rural economy and I refuse to be pigeon-holed or isolated in my community preferring to take the jibes and sharp humour that sees me as unusual and with unpardonable radical opinions; but I am as “country” as them and hold my independence and right to express a different perception of the countryside immutable.

Even to-days omnibus edition of The Archers on #BBC Radio Four has David Archer complaining about badgers in a very boorish simplistic way for trampling crops like some version of Armageddon , that increases the accepted negative view without any balanced  counter argument.

I am not a Christian despite being brought up in the Church of England as I am not a communist despite being surrounded as young man by the pantheons of socialism. I protest my right to be difficult and not easily labelled but I resent those in the rural community and organisations like the NFU who would gather the clothes of country people as disguise for their barely concealed commercial self interest that disregards Nature accept when it is a convenient prop to justify their authority. It has no substance and is fabricated pretence.

The NFU has come to the fore as a representative of a significant minority of farmers and trades in repeating unscientific half truths in the hope that by repetition they are more believable.

In one House of Commons Select Committee minutes the revelatory opinion is recorded that it will be hard to change the received wisdom within the farming community because the prevailing views are so entrenched .It is this engrained prejudice that  the NFU trades upon cosseting itself in its own self re-enforcing myths ,merchandising them like a product in concert with The Countryside Alliance that appears at every agricultural gathering to canvass membership fees in return for perpetrating the same recycled opinions  again and again in a closed loop of values .

Why do hard working farmers continue to allow this self deception ?   Probably because they work hard and are relatively isolated from contrarian views and challenges of the wider community. They might need to get out more!

Working hard is a virtue but not a divine trump card to squash other perspectives  and reason.

Holding shared views that feel comfortable and have persisted for many years without challenge reinforces farmers sense of connection within the community of other farmers and thereby their own sense of orientation within a system of values.

Asking awkward questions and holding unorthodox views doesn’t make you popular ….trust me I live in the middle of a farming community. Their primary defence for this insularity and conservatism is a self perpetuating group dynamic which the NFU feeds off to justify its own existence.

You are rarely favoured by those you purport to represent if you are critical or threaten the status quo  with fact based change.

My point  remains that we all have contradictions and that conflicting awkward ideas introduce an essential dynamism to a seemingly closed loop which the NFU at this time chooses to  perpetuate rather than explore the possibilities.

So badgers spread bTB , badgers are responsible for poor bio-security ,badgers  threaten our livelihoods. Repeat this mantra until science is silenced and what you end up with is the fiasco of a van load of Metropolitan Policemen, last Friday night, driving around the country lanes of Gloucestershire at the ratepayers expense reinforcing the prejudices of a Minister of State  against individuals who have sought to defend the scientific reality of bovine TB

I am exhausted  and need to sleep before I return to continue the last week of the resistance to this absurd and increasingly chaotic culling of badgers .

I just hope the humour in the village hall tonight remains within the bounds of common decency or someone might just receive the sharp end of a tired  badgerists thoughts. I hope not !!

Asthall Leigh  6 October 2013

In haste.

1.Larkin Church Going


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