BY NIGEL BEAN & PAUL READ
An Open Letter to Conor O’Halloran
I am writing to you regarding your recent paper titled ‘An outbreak of tuberculosis due to Mycobacterium bovis infection in a pack of English Foxhounds (2016 -2017)’. I am pleased to see none of the contributors, including yourself, had any conflict of interest and I believe this to be true and don’t wish to doubt anyone’s integrity. However, we are living in a complex world driven by ideology, iffy opinion polls and fake news and so if we take that into consideration the balance of the paper appears to be somewhat skewed. For example, the RSPCA, who are hardly lovers of hunting, were quick to pick up on the paper and arrange a news story in the Times asking for hunt kennels to be regulated.
All over social media anti-hunting/AR fanatics are using the paper to further their demands for an all-out ban. I am sure the paper was never intended to support a tiny minority of fundamentalists determined to force their world view on the populace through animal rights propaganda and their own uncanny inability to reason consequence, so I would like to balance out the paper with the following information:
In the discussion paragraph you state the source of the infection was unknown. Actually it is known, in fact very well-known and by a great many people. The source involves the activities of animal welfare groups and charities and that means only one thing – the source is the filthy lucre, or money to be precise.
Explanation – Badgers were given protection in 1992 but still could be culled under licence if they were seen to be spreading bTB or causing damage to building foundations etc. This protection was given after a sustained campaign from animal welfare groups and Labour MPs, many signed an early day motion calling for a full ban in 1992. An EDM was proposed by Tony Banks and seconded by Elliot Morley. (Remember those two as their names come up later.)
“That this House notes that there is no evidence that the Ministry of Agriculture’s badger culling programme, at an annual cost to tax payers approaching £500,000, is having any effect on the incidence of tuberculosis in cattle; further notes that there is scant scientific evidence for the transmission of tuberculosis from badgers to cattle and that there is probably more evidence for the transmission of tuberculosis from cattle to badgers; believes that the additional cost to tax payers of compensating farmers fully for infected cattle, at about £400,000 in a bad year and less than £300,000 in a typical year, would be less than the cost of continuing the badger culling programme; and calls on this Government to impose an immediate moratorium on badger culling pending a review of the situation and to reconsider the level of compensation paid to farmers for cattle infected with tuberculosis”
That’s fair enough if their sums are correct although you ignore the fact farmers and their representatives had warned any protection afforded the badger will see a marked increase in bTB cases as time went on, and by 1996 we do see the increase in bTB cases.
By 1997 we have a Labour government in charge of the country and Elliot Morley has been placed in charge of MAFF, now DEFRA. With the increase in the number of bTB cases and the fact Morley now has, what was then, wise counsel at his disposal in the form of the British Veterinary Association, they in turn had submitted evidence to the ongoing Krebs review in support of the continuation of culling. So surely Morley would relent?
Well no, Morley was working closely with IFAW and didn’t even wait for the findings of the Krebs review to be announced in Dec 1997 before placing a moratorium on the culling of badgers.
So why ignore experts and the evidence and not even wait until Krebs reported his review?
Elliot Morley and Tony Banks were fanatical International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) supporters and both received financial assistance from IFAW to pay for secretaries and researchers. Morley had enjoyed their hospitality on a number of occasions – one being to attend a whale watching expedition. Both had signed up for the RSPCA’s – soon to be debunked – science surrounding foxes controlling their own number, but that was still not the main reason.
In the early nineties IFAW started up a company called the Political Animal Lobby (PAL), their sole purpose was to remain low profile and donate large sums of money to Labour to push through animal rights legislation. IFAW’s name would not be now stained with corruption. So a one million pound donation was made to Labour for a fox hunting ban in 1997 – best described below in a letter read out in Parliament and documented in Hansard from Mr Stanley Johnson, a well-known environmentalist, a senior paid advisor to IFAW and a one time member of the European Parliament:
”Tony Banks benefited from IFAW’s largesse for a substantial period during the 1990’s in the sense that his research assistant at the House of Commons was paid for by IFAW. (So by the way was Elliot Morley’s . . . .) Moreover, Banks was directly involved in the negotiations which led to the gift of one million pounds by the Political Animal Lobby (at that time a wholly owned subsidiary of IFAW) to the Labour Party in exchange for a manifesto commitment on hunting.
Don’t let anyone tell you this was not a quid pro quo exchange. It was. I have the clearest recollection of having lunch in the garden of my farm in Somerset and answering the telephone from the United States to be informed that IFAW officials had done a deal with Peter Mandelson and Jonathon Powell whereby IFAW would put up one million pounds and the Labour Party would make a manifesto commitment on hunting. I came to the table and announced as much to my horrified guests”
Only now do the pieces of the jigsaw fall into place – Morley blocked the issuing of a badger culling license effectively placing a moratorium on the culling of badgers, thus preventing comparisons in the upcoming hunting debate. Meanwhile Michael Foster announces his fox hunting banning bill. Now the pro hunt lobby are prevented from highlighting the sheer absurdity and duplicity of the argument forwarded by animal rights groups whereby mounted hunting can be replaced with effective and humane shooting with rifles. Then, in a spectacular volte-face claim, ineffective rifle shooting will leave badgers languishing around at the bottom of ditches, dying slowly in agony from bullet wounds. The concern over badgers gave way to the ludicrous invented concern over how we kill foxes – ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune’.
Of course this now spotlights the major reason for putting off a cull and that is the unsuitability of having two high profile campaigns running simultaneously. They are unlikely to bring in double the revenue as they tap into the same resource. Those members of the public highly receptive to animal rights propaganda are unlikely to donate double the amount for two causes. They need to be separated by time and folk will soon forget the argument put forward for a ban on mounted hunting. As the old adage goes, a week is a long time in politics.
On the 16th December 1997 Prof Krebs finally published his review and all other suggestions to a solution to the badger crisis were conveniently ignored for a long term study as the Michael Foster ban fox hunting bill stalls in parliament, this finally ran out of time in March 1998. The moratorium on culling badgers cannot be lifted as the debate is still ongoing.
The animal welfare/rights groups comprising IFAW/LACS and the RSPCA come under the umbrella of the Campaign For the Protection of Hunted Animals and change the umbrella name to Deadline 2000. The big push was on to ban hunting in the historic year of 2000, the new millennium year, a fresh start to the century in the eyes of the fanatics. And to make sure, Morley* deliberately dithers on setting up the badger trial culls by offering low wages to contractors blaming poor weather and activists conveniently locating and then smashing up cages.
Then disaster strikes for our dithering Morley and his chums in Deadline 2000, Blair* takes a holiday and bumps into a hunt master who informs him fox hunting is the fabric of rural life. He returns home, reevaluates the situation and finds out the animal welfare groups have been relying on debunked science from Bristol University. He calls for a Government inquiry.
And still the moratorium remains in place even with incidents of bTB rapidly rising. On Feb 10th 2000 the inaction had reached such a point that a meeting of the select committee on Agriculture was held to discuss the dithering as noted in Hansard. Nobody should be surprised to learn Labour/MAFF under Morley tried to scupper the meeting.
The Government inquiry findings were reported in September 2000 in Parliament, and various options to be considered regarding the severity of a ban were put forward. Then foot and mouth broke out in 2001 causing further delays – another utterly ridiculous situation develops whereby Labour/MAFF could not locate enough slaughter men as foot and mouth spread rampantly throughout the countryside. Labour had a pool of over 250 licenced slaughter men in huntsmen, but were put off asking them because they might expect to be left alone in return. Labour invited the army to take over the cull so, instead, they could ask the huntsmen to participate in the cull.
Finally, hunting was banned in 2004 and this came into effect the following year in 2005 and still farmers could not apply for a license to cull badgers. Krebs reports his findings in 2007 and by 2010 David Cameron finally agrees to start culling.
If we take into consideration all of the above information and Labour’s time in office (1997 – 2010) and compare that to the maps from DEFRA showing the rapid spread across country and the leap in bTB cases from 2,541 in 1996 to 28,541 in 2010, the source of bTB in the Kimblewick hounds becomes very evident.
And just when you think it cannot get any worse, the RSPCA started a campaign in 2012 against the badger cull, this campaign surrounded publicly shaming farmers and accusing them of soaking their milk with the blood of badgers. Satan would be proud of them, they helped spread the awful disease so they could have a campaign from which to make money regardless of the suffering caused to farming families forced to watch their livelihoods and herds destroyed.
The farmers are forced to pay for them through their taxes and so fund their own abuse meanwhile the public pick up the billion pound tax bill so the RSPCA can make a few hundred thousand from the tawdry campaign. This was only stopped in 2016 after an internal audit suggested they had become too political.
While no single cause of infection has been identified, it is known that TB is zoonotic, ie capable of passing between species. Hitherto, of course, transmission of TB to dogs has been considered extremely rare and, as such, the authors noted that no validated canine ante-mortem tests currently exist. However, the significant increase in bTB in the area concerned is likely to have been a major factor. Had this increase not occurred, the likelihood is the hounds would not have been infected.