If ever there was evidence needed for the importance of hedgehogs, then it has come with the launch of the Labour Party election manifesto. We now have broken out of the niche – hedgehogs are mainstream …
It is only a matter of time that ‘Support the hedgehog’ becomes ‘Save the hedgehog, save the world’ … and at that point I will know I have been well and truly thieved.
Should it bother me? Well, it is easy to see why the Labour spin doctors have chosen the hedgehog – they see it as the most charismatic and benign of the country’s fauna – everyone loves a hedgehog.
But who would a hedgehog vote for?
Even though I have a recollection of the Monster Raving Loony Party calling for the lowering of the buttons on traffic lights, to enable hedgehogs to press them and facilitate their crossing … I am not sure there is quite enough coherence in the overall environmental and wildlife strategies to seduce most right-thinking hogs.
Tories? Well, there is a streak of green running through that party – the old-school conservatives were and are frequently into many of the things that hedgehogs like – countryside, hedges etc – even if the motivations are rather suspect, driven more often than not by a desire to kill something for fun. But – arch-Tory Ann Widdecombe is a very keen hedgehog supporter. She insisted that on her 60th birthday her friends did not give her presents, but donate money to the BHPS. I met her and chatted about this – she is, despite some rather less-pleasant views, a delightfully intelligent and slightly intimidating woman with more than a toe slipping over the line between animal welfare and animal rights. Another surprising Tory supporter was that ‘semi-house-trained polecat’ (thanks Michael Foot for that) Norman Tebbit.
Though I wonder whether the Tory love of nature may in part be motivated by a general misanthropism.
Liberal Democrats should be pretty green, mainly with envy at the other two main parties hoarding the votes, but their local track-record is not as pleasant as it should be given the generally benign nature of their presentation. I will need to read a little more about them to see if they really do have anything to offer the hedgehog.
Labour? Well, the closest they have come to supporting hedgehog-rights is in their video! Though under their leadership the hedgehog has been upgraded to a priority species on the Biodiversity Action Plan (even if this means nothing unless I and my colleagues get on and do something about it).
But none of the three main parties seems to have grasped the bigger picture – that will appeal most to hedgehogs (and wildlife around the country). It is impossible to have a sustainable environment – one in which wildlife is able to flourish and is not at risk of being wiped out by development and climate change – without addressing the central tenet of capitalism. Growth – growth cannot go on forever – it is a biological imperative – growth has to stop at some point. In our body, when there is growth that does not follow basic biological laws, we have CANCER. Society that is driven to consume more and more – and industry that collapses without continual growth – is all completely doomed to failure.
The big problem for us is that politicians do not give a damn – they are going to be in power for a brief moment – and they want to hold onto as much power as they can in that time. They are not giving a thought to what is going to happen to their children’s children. Politics is so obscenely focussed on the short term interests of the greedy and so depressingly ignorant (or uncaring) of the long term impacts of their actions that it is hard to find a voice to turn to …
And that leaves the Greens. Can they? Will they earn their first seat in the House of Commons? In Brighton there is one of the most honest and hard-working people I have ever met – Caroline Lucas. And she is in with a real chance. We are not going to get a Green government any time soon – but I think it is to the Greens we must look if we want to find a party that is truly on the side of the hedgehogs (oh, and the rest of us too!)