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Tory MP attacks Labour's links to anti-badger cull lobby group

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 31, 2013

Neil Parish MP

Comments (21)

A Westcountry MP has branded as "disgraceful" the revelation that the Labour Party accepted tens of thousands of pounds from a group with links to animal rights campaigners fighting the badger cull.

Neil Parish, who represents Tiverton and Honiton for the Conservatives, spoke out after Electoral Commission records emerged showing that Political Animal Lobby Limited had given nearly £140,000 to the party since 2001.

The company has strong links to Network for Animals, a pressure group which campaigned against British farmers who supported the badger cull.

The revelation instantly led to accusations that Labour was involved in a "cash for policies" relationship, although the party insists it has done nothing wrong and no donor exerts influence over their policies.

Mr Parish however was not convinced.

He said: "Labour Party policy has always been dictated by its Trade Union donors and now it seems Animal Rights organisations are doing the same.

"Under the last Labour government the number of cattle slaughtered because of Bovine TB rose six-fold from 4,102 in 1998 to 24,000 in 2010.

"During their years in government they refused to follow scientific evidence and carry out a controlled cull of badgers.

"That in opposition the Labour Party is taking funds from animal rights organisations in exchange for policy is utterly disgraceful instead of taking a scientific position on the badger cull."

According to the Electoral Commission, the most recent donation made by the Political Animal Lobby Limited was £50,000 in May last year.

In August, Mary Creagh, the shadow environment secretary, unveiled a campaign which aimed "to demonstrate the huge opposition to the Tory-led Government's plans to allow farmers to shoot badgers as part of measures to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis in cattle."

The following month she wrote: "Bovine TB is a terrible disease that needs to be controlled. This cull is not the way to do it."

In October the Government announced that it was suspending its plans for a badger cull, including one pilot zone in West Somerset, until later this year.

The Labour Party rejected the accusations and said they had opposed the cull since 2008.

A spokesman said: "We are grateful for the support of all our donors, however no donors have undue influence on our policymaking which is done in a transparent way. All donations are declared in line with Electoral Commission rules."

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  • fischadler  |  February 05 2013, 11:59AM

    SECTION 1.:- FIVE MAIN REASONS WHY BADGERS ARE NOT THE PROBLEM ! :- A TO E; 1. Cattle is 100% from other cows Lesions almost entirely in lungs and pulmonary lymph nodes (bronchials and mediastinals ; Liebana; 6 a,b; 8, 15, 16, 19). Prolonged contact needed, one school study required 130 hours of shared classes to achieve transmission. Badgers popping into a barn for a drink and snack of cattle nuts wont "cut it"; besides, most badger barn visitations in summer when cattle out at pasture anyway ! Afraid that the widely held belief that cows catch TB from badger urine with 300,000 bacilli/cc is wildly improbable. Some 99% drains straight into soil; rest disinfected by UV in sunlight within 3 days, so a cow most unlikely to ingest the minimum dose of c. 1 million bacilli, ie. 3 cc of fresh urine .. amusing anyway, that special pleading of conversion of ingested bacilli to aerosol by eructation ie. burping of rumen gases is also implausible(8). Francis (6) was very clear, cattle do not usually catch TB from contaminated pasture, unless via un-composted/bio-degraded manure/slurry spread direct ; indeed dont catch TB until they enter the cowshed when first calving . Slurry risk, Maddock/Schellner, in 8,20. NB. a huge difference from respiratory TB which CAN be via a single bacillus direct to thin walled alveoli. Ironically all this was clearly understood from a classic study a century ago :-Svensson 1904 , 13 calves caught airborne TB in a barn, separated by 6 metres from the main TB herd, 5 reacted by 6 m, other 8 after 1 year ..Contrast, badgers in a very artificial close confined yard experiment, DID give calves TB :-But, 4 exposed under 1 m didnt get TB, the other 5 reacted after 6 m (16). 2. Cattle ARE major self-maintaing "HIDDEN" RESERVOIR OF TB (see cases "below "c" =Sea, Confirmed level in Two pyramids" figure ). Badgers are merely a spillover host, like dirty feeding pigs, wild boar, and locally commonest deer ; Sika Purbecks, Scotland; Red Exmoor; Roe Glos, Wilts even 1 Hants recently ;Fallow Chilterns, Hereford; 1 Muntjac Glos., and TB dies out when not topped up from cattle . SEE Section 2 (3) below :- Cattle pose a risk to badgers. 3. Cattle Crisis is NOT mostly due to badgers since Despite UNBelievably , according to farmers/vets cattle-to-cattle spread is UNimportant.. it is simply an explosion amongst cattle (Surely they must realise this in bad herd breakdowns with 1/2 to 3/4 herd affected ! ?); It was just about plausible that at the low point Map 2, with 100 breakdowns/a, and similar numbers of TB badgers ; badgers might be the hidden self-sustaining reservoir ; BUT SINCE spread way beyond the supposed tiny badger TB hotspots in the southwest (maps 2 to 3-4 ) .. badgers are not moving outwards by 10 km a year, 99 % die in their natal clan territory.

  • fischadler  |  February 05 2013, 11:55AM

    B. BADGERS "New Science "Shock .. BADGERS INNOCENT .. ANY CULL/VACCINE HENCE UTTERLY POINTLESS (WHY shoot the messenger , miner's canary to cattle problem). Rather depressing that the 25th October debate whilst very well-intentioned, was badly misinformed, both on Perturbation and vaccines, Irish already well advanced on an ORAL badger one; the 3 year Kilkenny field trial of a badger one just ended, but 500 or so badgers in 755 sq.km. ( 1/ 1 1/2 sq.km.) vaccinated wont have made any difference to cattle TB (10 , 5 Dec. 2012 first results in Plosone e 50807 online ). ABSOLUTE KEYSTONE/CORNERSTONE TO WHOLE GREAT BADGERS AND TB DEBATE :-Gallagher in Zuckerman 1980 p.86, 94 ... Cattle "Open lesion" infECTIOUS cases ; only 21 in 1000 reactors, 2 % SO ""In the context of the total bovine population, the number of cattle excreting bovine tubercle bacilli appears of no consequence in the maintenance of tuberculosis in badgers, and of very little consequence in its maintenance in cattle ".

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  • fischadler  |  February 05 2013, 11:53AM

    A . CATTLE 1. VACCINATION. TB is like "Consumption or phthisis" in man, entirely a (broncho-) PNEUMONIA, acquired via droplet infection (think swine flu !) by prolonged contact with other cattle over-wintering in enclosed barns/yards,or in milking parlours; exactly like other Pneumonias especially of calves, be they viral :-IBR, PI3, RSN, BVD; bacterial: Pasteurella, Mannheimia, Haemophilus; or Mycoplasma..the pleuropneumonias. Vaccination of calves at birth with rearing isolated from main herd is commonsense. The VLA trials abroad of BCG show up to 75 % effectiveness, and the DIVA test distinguishing vaccinated from infected cattle has been available a decade :- depressing that an application to the EU for approved use not made long ago.. already clear EU would regard such favourably (G.Watson MEP pers.com.) procrastination just like " novel" IFN testing; or FMD pen-side test 2001; Why not get on with it !? 2. CHRONIC HERDS/ANERGY. These are the pivotal problem underlying recalcitrant local hotspots : - 3 elderly cows non-reactor to skin tests ie. "anergic" caused 18 herd breakdowns or 10 % of breakdowns in the West Penwith (Lands end) study (20), so not surprising even this problem area went clear in 1985, with depopulation of a few key chronic herds (maps 2, 5, 6). Gopal's restocking study in northeast England found c. a third of breakdowns came from one Cheshire herd. With some 2000 herds currently been under restriction 10-16 years its disgracefully incompetent of DEFRA not to be tacking the matter urgently with different tests .. depopulation of very large herds, an uneconomic last resort. The active spreader anergic culprits could be found within DAYS using either and Antibody test or PCR :- Ireland routinely use the Enfer Chemiluminescent Multiplex ELISA ; the OIE have recently approved the IDEXX M .bovis Ab test. Cows with advanced TB may shed 38 Million bacilli/ day in 30 lbs of faeces (6a), so PCR on faecal swabs would provide a rapid resolution.

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  • Kindanimal  |  February 05 2013, 9:22AM

    Such outright hypocrisy - the Countryside Alliance not only supports the Tory party but also work to get pro-hunting candidates into government. At the last General Election the Countryside Alliance organised a group of pro hunting Tories - Vote-OK - to lobby in all the marginal seats in order to get Cameron, a hunter, in power and get the Hunting Act repealed. They were instructed not to mention the fact that they were pro-hunting. This in spite of the fact that up to 82% of the country do not want a repeal. Jake Blake is right - we have a corrupt political system.

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  • Charlespk  |  February 04 2013, 4:48PM

    Please read this and familiarise yourself with the subject. . Let me assure you I have lived in Somerset for the majority of my 68 years and have been studying the subject far longer than most. . If you really care about deer, badgers or our national beef herd you will support this cull. THE NATURE OF TB IN BADGERS "1.Tuberculosis has a different manifestation in most species . In the badger it is fundamentally different from TB in cattle essentially due to the lack of development of a hypersensitivity response which is a prime feature of infection in cattle. Thus small numbers of organisms infecting cattle produce a vigorous cellular response which results in extensive cell death and the development of large cold abscesses in the affected tissues usually the lung and respiratory lymph nodes . This is in fact the host immune reaction to TB. Whilst causing disease and disruption to the affected organs the changes inside these abscesses strongly inhibit the TB bacteria and kill many of them. The badger does not show such a vigorous destructive reaction but rather a slowly progressive proliferative reaction which eventually results in cell death as numbers of bacteria increase markedly. TB lesions are thus relatively much smaller but contain relatively vastly more bacteria than those of cattle. TB bacteria do not produce toxins but rather cause lesions as a result of their highly antigenic cell walls to which different hosts may respond with greater or lesser aggression. PROGRESSION OF INFECTION 2. Once a badger develops disease all the members of that social group are likely to become infected due to the confined living space in their underground tunnel systems, their highly gregarious nature and constant mutual grooming. But that seed of infection (the primary focus ) will usually only progress to produce disease and eventually death in a minority of cases. Latency is a feature of TB in many species and this is so in badgers and cattle. The bulk of infections in badgers, usually 70% or more will become latent or dormant. A small number of badgers may resolve the infection completely and self cure. But the latent infections remain fully viable and may breakdown under stress which may be of nutritional origin, intercurrent disease, senile deterioration or social disturbance and disruption. Some badgers may develop fulminating disease (Gallagher et al 1998). Badgers with terminal generalised tuberculosis can excrete vast numbers of bacteria particularly when the kidneys are infected. Counts of several million bacteria in a full urination have been recorded (Gallagher and Clifton-Hadley, 2000). When infection is acquired by a bite wound from the contaminated mouth of another badger, the bacteria are Inoculated either deeply subcutaneously or intramuscularly and rapid generalisation of infection usually occurs, causing progression to severe and often fatal tuberculosis which may develop in a matter of several months (Gallagher and Nelson, 1979). Respiratory origin infections have a longer duration and cases in an endemically infected population (Woodchester) have been monitored showing intermittent excretion of infection for a year, with the longest recorded case excreting for almost three years before death. The above ground mortality due to TB is estimated as about 2% of the population per annum. Thus in the South West alone with its now extensive endemically infected areas the annual deaths due to TB will be of the order of at least 1000 to 2000. Tuberculosis has an unfettered progress in the badger population and the cycle of infection and disease in the badger has long been known to be self sustaining (Zuckerman 1980). Over time the badger has become well adapted as a primary reservoir host of bovine TB infection." By Dr John Gallagher, a veterinary pathologist since 1972

  • Charlespk  |  February 04 2013, 4:33PM

    If you check the historical situation of any TB prevalence in deer, you will find that the prevalence in badgers and increase in badger numbers, any the subsequent increase in reactors in cattle came long before. . The Deer Society stalkers who were spotting more and more ailing deer, were warning of this and the threat to the Roe Deer the only other British native species, and the asiatic species like the Muntjac. People just kept ignoring their warnings when they were repeatedly told that more deer as well as badgers would have to be culled if they didn't act. . The rest is history. . They didn't act and they just pandered to AR to 'buy' votes. There are none so blind as those that just will not see.

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  • steveyandall  |  February 04 2013, 3:00PM

    Anyone that checks the facts knows that two areas of Somerset contain wild deer with a disturbingly high incidence of TB and that deer low density has been an historic factor in low transmission.The national average amongst deer is under 5%. We are facing a conflict in that deer/cattle densities are higher than in recorded history and their interaction is growing as is the national deer 'herd' thus creating stress and cross over pressure. The above is an aside however as the BVT problem is international unlike badgers.The common denominator is cattle.I CANNOT deny cross contamination but do strongly believe that the proposed cull is a cover up for years of research neglect/low investment by successive administrations and that the proposed cull is a placebo being foisted on a farming community that deserves better.The admission by the EU that a vaccine is 10 years away is,to me,an indictment of central inactivity.

  • Charlespk  |  February 04 2013, 12:33PM

    Quote:- "The focus on badgers denies the possibility of deer being a far more important long term vector of TB." Anyone who knows even the first thing about the epidemiology of the M.tuberculosis genus of bacteria also know that Deer, although sometimes a vector and spill-over casualty of the spread of M.bovis by badgers as with alpaca, will never become a self-maintaining host except perhaps in a captive herds if they are not regularly checked. . As long as we use any Reactor cattle as the 'canaries' when any outbreak occurs, and then also deal with any outbreaks in the wild as they do in the USA and elsewhere, we can maintain clean deer herds as we have done all over the centuries.

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  • steveyandall  |  February 04 2013, 12:00PM

    It appears politics,science,animal welfare,commerce are admixed to an extent that denies transparency?Business as usual then! Discount funding partiality as all governments fall at that hurdle(look to the DEFRA admission that they were funded by an incinerator company ,as an example,whilst their 'offspring' gave evidence at inquiry withour a declaration of interest). Discount science as all too often in the past we have been totally mislead by those we should most rely on. What have we left? The practicalities of culling and the 'dark unexplained corners'! 1.In the Duchy of Cornwall we have circa 1400 sq miles of land.At a rate of 1 sett every 5 sq miles we may thus have 280 setts.To reach a 70% cull figure about 200 setts would have to be cleared. a.how are 200 'kill zones' to be set up within an intricate network of towns/hamlets/roads/footpaths and public access areas within an area frequented by a huge number of tourists whilst firearms have such a long range? b.how are H&S assessments to be made? c.how can the 'effectiveness' of culling be assured when exclusion will be utilised by many landowners and shooting cannot be undertaken on Common Land(also no insurance company will insure our Commons) whilst setts in towns are also 'no go' areas? 2.The removal of badgers presupposes that DEFRA have undertaken an Environmental Assessment of the removal of a higher lifeform from an ecosystem thus causing a widespread inbalance? 3. The focus on badgers denies the possibility of deer being a far more important long term vector of TB.Currently Somerset has two very serious deer infection areas whilst nationally infection levels are low however the exponential growth in deer numbers is likely to lead to increased infection rates throughout the UK. 4.In my area,the only reality is anecdote.Before herd isolation was removed via the DEFRA/NE HLS scheme to introduce conservation grazing decades of BVT free herding had been established.Coincidentally the introduction of new stock in previously ungrazed areas was followed by BVT outbreaks in clean herds. 5.Environmental diseases are of great concern to academics and are exemplified in humans by rises in a huge number of illnesses that run parallel to pollution/stress and lifestyle changes.Is BVT indicative of our fellow travellers suffering in a similar way and our demands on stock productivity lowering immunity? DEFRA have so many questions to answer and have had so much time under multiple administrations to create sound science that I doubt their competence under such circumstances.

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  • Charlespk  |  February 03 2013, 8:38PM

    Quote:- "(it's called 'bovine' for a reason)" The only reason it is called 'bovine', (M.bovis), is because when the pathogen that was causing this disease, tuberculosis in cattle, was first identified it was called after them as was the practice. But it has subsequently been proven that in reality, human tuberculosis came first (M.tuberculosis), and M.bovis most likely first appeared in other mammals, vermin or the like that scavenged at mans' "dustbins", latrines or graves; and not the cattle. That governments have allowed badgerists to perpetuate their myths and very basic non-understanding of this disease is the reason this problem has been allowed to escalate to the level it now is. . The Labour Party is primarily at fault for this escalation and delay in dealing with it, but all politicians must accept their share of blame. Badgers have proven themselves to be a perfect self-maintaining vector of this disease with a a lifestyle that makes them a perfect breeding ground to incubate the insidious, perpetual clonal expansion of these very slow growing bacteria that are extremely difficult to prevent growing, let alone kill once they find a host. . This is the reason 'reactors' always have to be slaughtered and now badgers also have to have their numbers severely reduced in the hope that we can we can achieve a healthy badger population once again. Spoligotyping, VNTR profiling and Mapping now proves conclusively that badgers are the primary vectors of any outbreak wherever it occurs. . Not wanting any culling of badgers is purely an emotional response to an unfortunate, but now extremely necessary course of action to safeguard all other mammals. (especially humans)