The controversial badger cull is ‘despised’ and should be ditched by the Government or it will cost West Tory MPs votes at next election, a group of Conservatives have warned David Cameron.
The ‘Blue Badger’ group of animal rights-supporting Conservatives in Westminster has told the Prime Minister that the Tories could ‘face a backlash of lost votes from Middle England’ if they were to include a roll out of the badger cull in the party’s manifesto for the 2015 General Election.
Blue Badger, a parallel organisation to ‘Blue Fox’ are made up of Conservative MPs, candidates and councillors who support the ban on hunting and are against the badger cull trials that took place in west Somerset and the Forest of Dean last autumn.
Their founder, Lorraine Platt, said told ministers that they risked the badger cull being a vote-loser – even in rural Tory seats – and cited a YouGov poll carried out at the height of the badger cull, which said that only six per cent of voters would view a candidate supporting the badger cull ‘more favourably’ because of it.
The poll showed that almost half of the voters polled said their view of any parliamentary candidate would be altered by their position on badgers, bTB, culling and vaccination – and that more than a third would look on a candidate favourably if they wanted vaccination rather than a cull.
As the Government revealed the cull in Somerset was set to continue later this year, and questions were being asked about the relationship between the police and the cull company during last autumn’s cull, Ms Platt said ministers should be wary of including a badger cull in the Conservative manifesto, because ‘Middle England’ was on the side of the badger.
“The polling is revealing,” she said. “We urge the Government to rethink its plans to continue the cull this summer and the future roll-out free-shooting of badgers in favour of a more sustainable and humane approach to eradicating bovine TB through vaccination.
“The badger cull policy has been highly disparaged by scientists, MPs and the public alike. We advise the party leadership to listen to the scientific evidence against the badger cull and focus on vaccination which is carried out by the Welsh Government instead of culling.
“The General Election is around the corner and the unpopular badger cull policy is loathed with widespread public marches against the cull taking place across the country. There is a perception that the Government is not listening to scientific evidence on the issue but placing the cull in a political context.
“The party leadership already suffers unwelcome criticism for its support for a repeal on the ban on hunting with hounds. It can ill-afford to further enforce a negative image on wildlife issues and dismiss the huge scientific evidence against the culling of a cherished protected species.
“The Conservative leadership should take note as come the General Election, the badger cull policy is a vote loser and may drive Middle England voters away,” she added.