A story that will inflame far more voters than today's headlines
By Paul Goodman
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The Independent reports this morning as follows:
"Sometime very soon the Prime Minister has to take a decision – if he hasn't taken it already – which will be immensely unpopular with a large section of British society, and which may even lead to problems of public order. He has to decide whether or not to kill badgers.
He will have to sign it off; in essence, he will have to take the decision upon himself, just as he has already done twice this year with two other contentious Defra proposals – the public forests sell-off, and the banning of wild animals in circuses."
The paper goes on to say that "the possibility of a third such Defra disaster with badgers is concentrating ministerial minds, not least with the Liberal Democrat members of the Coalition, whose supporters are not temperamentally suited to shooting things."
As it points out, Cameron will be "damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't". It would be simplistic to label this as a town v country issue, but Tory activists in the countryside are likely go one way and urban floating voters the other.
The farmers and their friends are usually far better informed, but one thing is certain. The decision will arouse more passion and provoke more division than any media misdeed or Government enquiry. MPs and staff: prepare to sink beneath a blizzard of e-mails, phone calls, letters and surgery visits.