Tuesday, 16 May 2017

'Mon the fox

Its easy to forget how great foxes are. So common and suburban, so much abused in agricultural folklore and the media, this perfect little predator is rarely given its due.

Their orange-red fur is the match of any dhole or jackal, particularly in winter when they have their thickest coats. I once saw one tracking down geese at first light on Dartmoor, and it struck me that this was the equal of any small hunter I had seen on the plains of India. 

Anyway - here are a few pieces of footage of a fox which appears to frequent my field, taken over a couple of weeks just after Christmas. Hunting, calling, running from the rain. I'm glad I can help provide a refuge.

As a final aside fox hunting back in the news with the soon to be PM Theresa May saying she will have a free vote on the issue. I don't want to get into the issue over whether predators need 'control' but two things are clear. 

If we eat less meat then fewer predators will need controlled. 

Fox hunting is wrong. Yes, animals get killed violently all the time, and that's just the way it is, but why would we wish to inflict that horror on another living thing for no reason? Those - like Jacob Rees-Mogg - who have tried to claim that hunting with dogs is more humane than say, being shot with a rifle, are lying to themselves to justify their support of hunting. We should ask them whether they personally would rather be shot with a high powered rifle, or chased by a mob and torn apart by dogs. Didn't think so. 

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Tactical voting around Bristol

For the progressive in Britain, these are dark times. Theresa May has called an election to win herself a big mandate. For what exactly we don't know, but she is banking on the short turnaround, dislike of the Labour leader and general confusion to win her the vote. And she is probably right. Let's be clear that the Conservatives will almost certainly win this general election. The question is by how much, and if there will be interesting upsets along the way.

The job for those of us who disagree with her politics, and who want a more pro-Europe, pro-environment and generally less xenophobic and authoritarian future, is to try and blunt her victory and hope that something unexpected happens. Given that she is looking forward to a huge win, anything less will be a big blow.

So we need to swallow our concerns over parties that will probably not be in government anyway. We need the Parties to make deals too. They need to grow up, and we need to stop worrying about what happened with tuition fees or Iraq. Neither matters in this election.

Where I live in Bristol this means tactical voting, and pushing the Parties to talk to each other. Here are the constituencies near me, and voting suggestions.

Bristol West - Suggest Green
In Bristol West we are lucky to have a three way fight between the Greens, Liberal Democrats and Labour. Both Greens and LDs are pro-Europe and have offered a ratification referendum on whatever deal is agreed. The sitting Labour MP is pro-Europe, her party less so. They accept Brexit but will likely want a better kind than the government. I will be voting Green (Molly Scot Cato), because they can win, and more Green MPs would be a good thing. Personally I think the LDs should withdraw in exchange for the Greens stepping down in Bath, but that's another story.

Bristol NW - Probably suggest Labour
Like Bristol West this was a remain voting area. But it has a hard Leaver Tory MP called Charlotte Leslie. I would vote to get rid of her. The best bet for that seems to be Labour's Darren Jones. The seat has always been either Conservative or Labour, so while I am not 100% certain, I think its the best bet. He is pro-European and pro-environment. If the Greens step aside he will have a better chance. If I was a pro-European conservative who could not bring myself to vote Labour, I would stay at home or vote Liberal Democrat, assuming they do not pull out, which they probably should.

Bristol East - Suggest Labour
Bristol East has a pro-European Labour MP called Kerry McCarthy. She is also good on the environment. I would vote for her. The Conservatives really want this seat. Greens and Libdems will not win and should step aside.

Bristol South - Suggest Labour
Bristol South has a not very pro-European MP called Karyn Smith. She has quite a big UKIP vote in her seat. The Conservatives could win it. I would reluctantly vote for her, as her Party is more pro-European and pro-Environment than the conservatives. Greens and Libdems would be unlikely to win.

Bath - Suggest Liberal Democrat
Outside Bristol the LDs are the main opposition. I would vote for them in Bath where they topped the recent Metro Mayor polls (albeit on a low turnout) and have a good chance of winning. Greens and Labour will not win here and should step aside this time.

Thornbury and Yate - Suggest Liberal Democrat
Pretty much the same as Bath. Again Greens and Labour should step aside or de-escalate their campaigns.

North East Somerset - not sure, perhaps Lib Dems, perhaps Greens to build long term alternative
Jacob-Rees Mogg's constituency. Yup the Conservative party's own right-wing Kermit the Frog. Just do whatever you can.

North Somerset - Suggest LD or possibly Green/Labour
This is Liam Fox territory, with UKIP, Labour and LDs all on a similar vote. LD were the main challengers before their collapse in 2010 and so would seem the most likely to re-emerge in future.

None however is likely to beat him this time, so vote for which ever you would like to help build a base in the longer term.