26 October 2012
The Weekly WHIP 26 October 2012
Brian May declared it was on a par with playing for the Queen atop Buckingham Palace as the government pulled the brakes on the planned badger cull. Not quite a u-turn, more like of an emergency stop, as the process ground to a halt and opponents claimed the victory. The cull planned for this autumn to kill 70 per cent of the badgers in Somerset and West Avon would take six weeks and the government have followed the advice of the National Farmer's Union and postponed it until next summer.
The former Queen guitarist had become the front man to save the badgers and after dashing around Birmingham was in parliament this week to hear the news his black-and-white friends were sett to live a little longer.
Prison: vote for retribution
A big news week for prisons with David Cameron giving his first speech on crime and prisons since becoming prime minister. The WHIP was surprised when he heard that too. Cameron called for a tough but intelligent approach that included both retribution and rehabilitation. All of this was part of the prime minister's attempt to rehabilitate himself with the country after a rocky few months. We are loathe to assume this was just a PR stunt especially when he spent an hour in jail and returned to face the cameras and say: "I've just spent some time in a cell with an excellent drug...rehabilitation charity."
The European Court of Human Rights gifted the prime minister with a chance to play tough as he continued to defy their judgement that stopping all prisoners voting is illegal. The government have until the end of November to respond to the court's ruling and the UK attorney general has warned that the UK had a legal duty to implement the judgement and Britain's reputation would be damaged if it did not. With most coalition and Labour MPs backing the current ban which applies to all prisoners serving custodial sentences, any movement would be controversial and damaging to the government – both with the public and back bench MPs.
Police and crime commissioners
Maybe a bit of controversy is what's needed to get the country excited about the elections for police and crime commissioners coming up in just a couple of weeks. With turnout feared to drop below 20 per cent there are concerns the 41 elected police chiefs in every area of England and Wales except London will lack legitimacy and public support. Which was exactly what their creation was intended to achieve. The Association of Chief Police Offices even described it as the biggest change to policing since 1829!
Maybe the government should be a bit worried when the country's former top cop tells people to boycott the vote to show how much they don't want these elected figures. The WHIP says find out what's going on; a leaflet is due through your door any day now, and vote on November 15 if you have a chance.