Monday, 30 September 2013

The Conservative Party Conference - The Badger Cull Protest & NHS Protest

The weekend before my week off was filled with lots of fantastic things, friends, family, fun and protesting.  It was the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester on Sunday - so I woke up, bright and early (after an hour's sleep) and jumped on a train with my mum. My family are avid wildlife fans, I've been brought up with a respect and love for every animal - but my mum is probably the most inspirational of these - and the most hardworking.  She fights every day for the things she believes in - and that is truly the only thing you can do in this hard, cold and increasingly corrupt and tangled world.

 So, we knew roundabouts where we were meeting (the guy who organised the march for the badgers was actually sat somewhere in Gloucester in the cull zone so couldn't be there) but organisation wasn't my concern, as long as we were there and we fought for our beliefs, we demonstrated that we wouldn't back down or sit down or shut up and accept this cruelty and corruption, I was okay.  It was a lovely sunny day in Manchester, a bit cool and breezy but we made our way to Deansgate and on to the main street where the other marches were rallying. Plenty of representation for socialist worker, teachers' cuts and the NHS cuts - banners were being handed out, placards, leaflets.  Huge bulbous balloon type things plastered with the names of the National Teachers Union and Unite, various trade union bits and pieces.  We walked to the bottom of the road and there was our meeting point - with a few lonely badger supporters looking slightly confused. After my mum explained that some people were also taking part in a static protest (she explained everything about six times to these people!) we decided to stay and wait and take part in the city march (as the organisation was quite off so we weren't sure which location would best represent our numbers and our cause). There was a lot of support for the NHS and various other cuts and unions - as you would expect. As a healthcare professional, I was there to represent my NHS too.  

Slowly but surely, a few people at a time, mostly dressed in black and white, the badger supporters arrived.  Stickers were handed out (and I finally got my Green Party anti-cull poster!).  I was wearing my Brian May/Brian Blessed Team Badger shirt (as were many others). By the time we looked up again, we were surrounded by lots of badger dressed friends! 

It felt empowering to be surrounded by so many people who share the same beliefs and values, to such a passionate and active extent.  Apart from my mum, I rarely socialise with anyone who supports this cause and spend most of the time defending it to people who either try to wind me up or don't actually understand the facts (or maybe they just don't care - who knows). But I urge any naysayers to watch Dominic Dyer's speech (either in Taunton or Manchester) and try to disprove his knowledge. 

Shortly before the march set off, Dominic Dyer (as mentioned above), policy advisor for Care for the Wild International, gave a very empowering and passionate speech about the badger cull.  The small minority that is the NFU (who have big power and control over the government) don't actually represent the good farmers and good farming practice in this country.  Instead of changing their practices or maybe asking supermarkets to charge a little more for milk and dairy products (so they can put better bio-security measures in), they're spending millions of pounds on a cruel and unscientific badger cull.  That was his basic message in summary.  He told us to keep fighting for our beliefs and standing tall, we are better than anyone who tells us we're wrong. With that passionate assurance in our ears - we set off through the streets of Manchester.

The march was an interesting one, long and lots of stops and starts along the way.  Fellow badger supporters were leafleting and I witnessed the most horrendous and hardfaced response from some passers-by (and the few security and door men offered leaflets and their rude and callous responses). Despite a rant from a Tory MP that he was racially insulted and abused and protesters were violent (which obviously wasn't acceptable if it happened) but I saw no violence of any description and everyone was polite, amiable and there to stand up for what they believed in.  This MP basically wrote off an entire march on the basis of one (or a few) people's behaviour. Not to mention he only referred to the march as being about 'the cuts'.  It wasn't just about that, our badgers were not mentioned in his article at all, nor on the BBC's news. They deemed it more appropriate to report on news that nearly happened but didn't quite - never mind 50,000 people in Manchester standing up for their beliefs and ultimately, their (and animal) rights. 

Even the police were calm, polite and many were interacting in a friendly way with the marchers. But in all honesty, their services must come under some pressures and cuts from this government.   We were not their to create chaos and try and overthrow Cameron and his hideous ingrates - we were there to shout our beliefs and our feelings and to try and make those toffee nosed people at the top, who were drinking £45 bottles of champagne, realise that this country is struggling.  The same £45 that they make disabled people may extra a month for having a 'spare' bedroom. 

BBC coverage was slack and scanty at best. A tiny news article which only referred to the 'cuts' and implied that some violence had occurred somewhere. Let me add, there were NO arrests. No mention of badgers or any other cause. Very lax, BBC. 

However! All in all it was a very positive, knackering day! We got to fight for our beliefs and listening to other badgerists and Dominic's speech empowered me to act more, to do more and fight for this cause harder than ever.  

My forthcoming wounded badger patrol will be a different and hopefully positive experience. 

Ultimately, what I gained from this experience was more knowledge.  The NFU lobbied the government to go ahead with this cull for a sizable time and what's worse, it's partly due to bad farming practices (not all farmers are bad and not all support the cull, and I thank those nice farmers for caring and considering). We've learned that the cull isn't working. Secret World Wildlife Centre found badgers shot and still suffering. That's not a clean, humane kill. This hasn't worked and their ideals of postmortems on a small proportion of those killed is no way to test whether something is humane. 

Sadly, the next step is research into gassing badgers in their setts.  Badger friends, please don't back down. You can visit my other posts on this blog for more information on how you can help.

Furthermore, sign the new petition here:

Thank you for reading

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